How to Not Let Depression Ruin Your Relationship: 9 Ways to Help Manage Your Depression
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HOW TO NOT LET DEPRESSION RUIN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Can depression ruin relationships? Short answer, yes. Long answer, there are symptoms and behaviors that result from depression that put relationships at risk that require honest and open conversations from people who are willing to make the relationship work.
This article is a combination of how to not let depression ruin your relationship as someone who has depression, and what to do when your spouse is depressed as someone who is in a relationship with a person who suffers from depression.
1. TALK TO YOUR PARTNER
Keeping an open communication line when you have depression is one way that you can not let depression affect your relationship. When you express how you feel to your partner, it gives them perspective on where you are mentally and it is much better than when you shut them out and leave them wondering what you are thinking, where you are at mentally, and what is going on with the relationship.
On the other hand, if you think your husband’s depression is ruining your marriage, the best thing to do is to talk to him. Let him know that you are open and willing to listen to him. Create a safe space for him to talk about his feelings and express to you how his depression is affecting him in the different aspects of his life.
2. GO TO THERAPY
Depression affects our relationships in different ways and one way we can avoid this from happening is when we seek help once we notice a pattern of broken relationships in our wake. Seeking help for depression is the first step we take into coping with it and living a positive and healthy life. Therapy gives you the tools to cope and adapt to life living with depression. It will also help you navigate the various relationships in your life and how to effectively communicate with them and set healthy boundaries that allow you your personal space but also let them know that you are a present friend, partner, and child in the relationship.
3. HAVE HOBBIES
A big thing that depression does to you is to convince you that the world is joyless and that everything is dead, therefore making it hard for you to enjoy anything which leaves you cooped up in your own head, not caring about anything. Finding a hobby helps you find a thing to be passionate about and eventually care about. When you care about something it makes it easy to be less depressed in a relationship and eventually it will help you fight your depression and start sorting out your marital problems. Some of the hobbies you can invest yourself in can be art, gardening, jogging, music (writing and playing), and birdwatching. The more outdoorsy the activity, the better because spending time in the sunlight helps you get some much-needed vitamins that can help elevate your mood. You can also pick up exercising because it releases endorphins that can help elevate your mood and help you feel better. Here are a few ways to stay motivated to exercise when depressed.
4. WORK ON SELF CARE
Depression destroys relationships especially when you let yourself go. This does not only apply to your physical appearance but also pertains to your mental wellbeing and overall self-esteem. When you fail to take care of yourself, you fail to take care of other people and that is how depression affects your spouse. When you make the effort to start working on yourself, you make yourself better, and therefore it is easier for you to show up for other people in your life, including your spouse. Working on yourself is a good way to get yourself out of a depressive rut. Take yourself out on a solo date, have a spa day, visit the beach on a sunny summer day, do whatever you can to make yourself feel better, and help take care of yourself. Here are some tips you can use to take care of yourself.
5. ENGAGE IN INTIMACY
One of the major things that can destroy a relationship is a lack of intimacy. Having a partner with depression often means that they suffer in silence and will withdraw themselves from the world every so often and by extension, this means that they will withdraw from their partners, too. As their partner, you can try to bring them back to the real world by engaging them in intimate touches – holding their hand, giving them a shoulder massage, rubbing their feet, cuddling them, hugging them, and so on. These little acts of intimacy will bring you closer as a couple and will also act as a comforting mechanism for your spouse.
As someone who suffers from depression, engaging in intimate touch with your partner is guaranteed to help elevate your mood because science says that hugging and touching the people we love releases endorphins that make us happy. Therefore, instead of shutting yourself out (or if you notice that you have slipped back into yourself and you are shutting everyone else down) make active efforts to try and hold them whenever you can both for your own sake and for theirs – so they do not feel alienated or abandoned in the relationship.
6. GET A SUPPORT SYSTEM
As someone who is depressed, it can be hard to sope with your symptoms especially when you are in a relationship. It is quite easy to just let the depressive episodes pass when you are on your own, however, this is not something you can do when you are in a relationship. It is also equally not healthy to rely solely on your partner to get you out of your depressive episodes whenever they happen because this creates codependency. This is why it is important to have several people around you who you can turn to whenever you are not feeling well, these people are your safe space and your support system. They help you navigate through the big emotions that often overwhelm you and bring you back to reality.
As someone coping with a depressed spouse, having a support system is also important. A support system helps you navigate your own emotions and concerns when it comes to your spouse. You need people you can confide in when you are going through a rough patch with your spouse because of their depression. This could be a therapist or a trusted friend or friends that are safe to talk to. For more help, look at these ways to help a man with depression, which you might need as a guide to helping your husband fight depression.
7. UNDERSTAND YOUR DEPRESSION
As someone who suffers from depression, it is important that you understand the impact of depression on relationships especially if you are trying to make yours work and the only way you can do this is by first trying to understand your depression. For most people who suffer from depression, they do not know or understand why they get depressed sometimes and are okay other times. It takes time and observation to understand your triggers and how you can deal with them to minimize the impact that they have on you. Once you understand what your triggers are and how they affect you, you can begin to understand and inform people on what they can do or say around you, what makes you uncomfortable, and what they can do to help if you fall into a depressive episode (should they be willing to help). Understanding what kind of depression you have helps you help yourself but also acts as a guide for the people around you on things you can or cannot do. Below are some of the most common depression variants amongst men and women.
How different types of depression affect men and women. Source: Who.int
8. ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
We know it feels like you can handle your depression in a relationship all on your own, but it is perfectly okay to accept that you are unable to and ask for help from those around you. When you are going through a hard time, your partner will want to help you out and it is okay to let them. This will bring you closer and help you understand each other better, and therefore creating a better, stronger relationship.
When dealing with a depressed partner, it is important that you offer to help them even before they ask because 9 times out of 10, they are not going to ask for help because they do not want to seem weak or needy. Work as a team.
9. SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH LOVED ONES
Dealing with depression in a relationship can take a lot out of a person and it is easy to feel like you are bothering your loved ones with your needs and lack of motivation, and whatever else your depression presents itself as. Instead of putting yourself to sleep and distancing yourself from everyone else, it is important to remind yourself that you are surrounded by people who love and care about you and who would do anything to be with you. So try to spend time with them. It doesn’t matter how much time you put out, 10 minutes or 2 hours – just be there, be present, show up. It will mean a lot to them and probably work wonders for your mood, too.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Help, my depression is ruining my relationship!
If you have ever felt or thought to yourself “my depression is ruining my marriage” you are not the only one. Many people who suffer from depression find themselves wondering if the reason that their relationship is falling apart is because of their mental issues. To be quite frank, your depression is not ruining your relationship, however, having a partner who does not understand what you go through might be. Or maybe your communication skills are not the best and you do not know how to express yourself thoroughly, or maybe there are other underlying issues in your relationship that have not been addressed and they have all boiled down to your depression. Sometimes you may even get depression that is caused by relationship problems. Whatever the reason that your relationship is failing, it is not because you are depressed. There are a lot of factors that go into a relationship not working out and your depression is not on that list.
2. My girlfriend’s depression is ruining our relationship. What can I do?
If you feel like your girlfriend’s depression is ruining your relationship, then here is what you need to know. First of all, depression is a mental disorder and therefore it cannot ruin your relationship. However, there are some symptoms that present themselves because of depression that you may not appreciate in your partner. That being said, the best thing to do would be to attack the disease and not your partner. Talk to your partner about the things that bother you, do they tend to isolate themselves? Do they lash out at you? Do they shut you down? Communicate with them all these things so that you can open a dialogue about how to navigate these situations together. When you do this, you will get one of these two responses but either way, you will get a clear answer on what to do. On one hand, you will get someone who is willing and open to talk about how they can handle the situation better, and on the other hand, you will get someone who calls you selfish for having needs and needing more from a partner and blame their depression for how poorly they treat you. If you get the second one, leave that relationship because this person is using and will continue to use their mental health as a reason for not being a good partner.
In conclusion, there are many ways in which you can stop depression from ruining your relationship. Learn how to talk about your feelings, validate each other’s experiences, and most importantly, set healthy boundaries with each other so that you can both have time with each other and also enjoy some alone time separately.
Coping with a partner with depression and choosing to help a significant other with depression can take quite a toll on you. Make sure that you have a reliable and strong support system and maybe even get to see a therapist for yourself to talk about all the things you want to talk about but can’t because you are afraid of being judged by others.
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