Loving someone in general can be hard, so you better believe it that loving someone suffering from depression is even harder. The experience is not only painful for the person with depression, but is also painful for loved ones of the depressed individual. Just ask anyone who has loved a family member or partner who has dealt with depression. They will tell you the experience is on a-whole-nother level.
In any type of healthy loving relationship there has to be a two-way street...Reciprocation, where the needs of both parties are met. Unfortunately when one or both people have depression, both parties' needs often aren't met. One person becomes the caregiver or both end up with the short end of the stick. Isolation, anger, frustration, fatigue, sadness all prevent needs from being met consistently. It can be devastating, and some rely on outside sources as a means to "escape" the mental anguish. However, the end result is usually a larger disconnect created between loved ones.
When we think of mental illness most people envision something more severe like schizophrenia, but medical professionals classify both mild to chronic anxiety and depression as mental illnesses as well. Both anxiety and depression are very common, affecting millions of people every year in the United States alone. While anxiety and depression are treatable, it does not take away from the damaging effects they can have on a relationship.
I certainly know from experience. I have dealt with anxiety and depression personally in my past after traumatic events occurred in my life. I have also been in a long-term relationship with someone who battles with depression. It is true that some people work through these mental health obstacles more easily than others. If someone else's struggles are ongoing and become a form of abuse, GET OUT NOW. Don't stay and endure behavior from someone that causes you unnecessary pain and stress, taking years off of your life. For help to get out of an abusive relationship CLICK HERE.
I know it is tough...especially knowing that, as a person who loves someone with depression, you do not have ANY control of that person's mental state. You can never "fix" someone. The person has to go through what he or she is experiencing and find healthy ways to cope on their own. What you can do though is help and support as much as possible by doing the following...
BELOW ARE, IN MY OPINION, THE BEST 10 TIPS ON HOW TO LOVE SOMEONE GOING THROUGH DEPRESSION
1. Stay Positive
Be the bright light in their darkness. If this person was the one you told all your woes and problems to, he or she is probably not the best option for this when they are depressed. When you interact with them, leave out the negativity and venting. You will have to be their rock now. Be kind, compassionate, and positive. Smile when you see them and give them affection if they seem receptive to it. Create an atmosphere for healthy communication and speak positive and honest affirmations around them.
2. Give Them Some Space
Sometimes conversation and being too happy around someone who is depressed will make them angry or frustrated. If they do not feel like speaking casually, then let them be. Give them time to relax, process, and heal mentally. The space is often great for both parties. If you rely heavily on the depressed individually or have pressing matters to discuss with them, it is important to be gentle and patient and to consider consulting others (like, family, friends, life coach, therapist) if possible rather than pushing for action from the person who is depressed. You can also consider communicating via text or email...yes even if you are in the same house. Use this method to communicate important matters and still give the person space.
3. Encourage Healthy Habits
If you enjoyed working out or going on walks with your loved one before depression hit, then encourage that to continue. If they don't want to join you, still go...either by yourself or with another family member or friend. Have healthy meals, stretch, meditate...Strive to maintain as much of your normal routine as possible. If it is a physical relationship, maintain that sexual chemistry, emotional intimacy and closeness.
4. Reassure Them
Confirm your presence by communicating that you are there for them. You are supportive and understanding, so let them know and show them this fact. Reassure them also of their ability to recover by complimenting them on improvements and small successes.
5. Take Care of Yourself
It is not good if you both end up depressed. Make sure you put your well being first. It is easy to lose yourself or put your needs to the side trying to help someone else. Do not let your empathy be your weakness. Be supportive to the depressed individual, but also supportive to yourself. This is no easy task, so allowing yourself to have breaks is imperative. Exercise, rejuvenate and pamper yourself!
6. Don't Panic
Being frantic, neurotic, tense, jumpy, or short will be no help here. Leave these traits at the door. Panicking won't help the situation, actually, it will make it 100 x's worse. Stay calm. Practice deep breathing to control your anxiety. You got it!
7. Hold Down The Fort (remain stable)
Plan accordingly, your loved one is suffering, but you are not going to go out of business and lose it all. Ensure your responsibilities are taken care of. Delegate responsibilities at home or work if possible, you do not need extra on your plate. Pay bills on time. If you foresee a future financial hit due to job loss or debt, then plan accordingly. Get on top of your situation to lessen the blow. You will get through this! It is only temporary.
8. Create Boundaries
Your loved one is dealing with mental distress, but that is no excuse for them to treat you poorly, take advantage of you, or ignore responsibilities that affect you or the family. You may be taking on a lot more to compensate for your loved one's depressive state. Do not let it become a habit or the norm because then you are enabling the person to stay "down in the dumps". They need to recognize that they have both the strength to recover and responsibilities to uphold still. You are there to help but not do everything for them.
9. Consider Counselling
If you have done all of the above, and it has been months, and nothing has changed...please consider counselling. If you love the person and believe the relationship is worth salvaging, then bringing in additional help is a wonderful choice. If you choose to go this route, prepare to be consistent with visits ( in person or virtual ) and consistent with the actions you take outside of the therapy room. Just a trip or two to the therapist won't solve all your problems.
10. End the Relationship If Necessary
Not every relationship is worth keeping intact. If you are doing all of the healthy and positive things listed above and your loved one still does not respond well, then the sign may be to part ways indefinitely or maybe even permanently. If there is any form of abuse (mentally, physically, emotionally) or incessant mistreatment of you, children, or pets...It is time to leave the relationship as soon as possible. It is not safe or healthy to stay around this person.
I have heard stories of families being broken apart, infidelity, miscarriages, abuse, bills left unpaid, jobs lost, homes lost...It can get very scary. If you find yourself loving someone with depression, the best thing to do is to practice the above tips and to educate yourself on the condition.
10 Signs Of Depression According To HelpGuide Are:
~Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
~Loss of interest in daily activities.
You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
~Appetite or weight changes.
Significant weight loss or weight gain (a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month)
Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
~Anger or irritability.
Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
~Loss of energy.
Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
~Unexplained aches and pains.
An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, stomach aches, back pain, aching muscles and pain.