Couples and Depression — How Do You Help your Loved One?

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     Millions of couples are dealing with depression. Specifically, when one is suffering from it. What should the other do to help? A really great article has addressed this issue. Here are some excerpts from that recent article in the New York Times.

  • Millions of Americans are in relationships with partners who are prone to depression.
  • When helping your partner weather a battle with depression, experts say there are ways to be supportive while also caring for yourself.
  • Learning more about what depression is and how it affects people may also help you protect yourself emotionally, respond with more empathy and avoid taking your partner’s behaviors personally.
  • If one partner doesn’t understand that their partner is suffering from depression, they may mistake things like a loss of interest in romance or sex as a personal rejection.
  • To help a loved one get diagnosis and treatment, you can call potential providers and set up appointments, or compile a list of clinicians for them to contact. But experts say it is also important to remember that you cannot force anyone to get help, and that pushing too hard can backfire.
  • You shouldn’t have to be your partner’s sole support, especially in situations where they may be in danger. Keep in mind that depression can increase the risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
  • Romantic partners can affect each other’s health and health-related behaviors in ways good and bad.
  • It is imperative that you support your own mental health. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, reach out to a health care provider for evaluation. But even if you are not, you may find it helpful to see a therapist or to join a peer-led support group.
  • In addition to connecting with a therapist or support group as needed, it is also important to find other ways to prioritize self-care. It does not have to be time-consuming or complicated,
  • Spend time outside in nature, get involved in some form of advocacy or move your body. Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or doing less strenuous exercise like walking or gardening for an hour, may have a protective effect against depression.
  • And “socialize, socialize, socialize — whatever that looks like for you. You may encourage your partner to join you in your efforts to get out and exercise or connect with others, but keep in mind that loss of interest in normal activities or hobbies is a symptom of depression.

                         Couples and Depression — How to Help?” (Oct. 2022)