Navigating Depression And Relationships

By Toni Hoy

Updated August 30, 2019

Reviewer Kristen Hardin

Depression is painful and it is hard. Not just on the person with depression, but on the people around them. When one person in a relationship is struggling with their mood, it can be difficult to understand if the mood is the problem or if the problems are related to issues in the relationship.

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A depressed mood can keep friends and significant others at a distance. When symptoms of depression are severe, they can leave loved ones feeling helpless and afraid. The challenge is to sort out what things are contributing to relationship issues. Then, they can work together to treat depression and rebuild the relationship. Treating depression nearly always requires professional help. The non-affected partner plays an important role in supporting their partner as they recover from depression. Whether you're dealing with a friendship or a love relationship, there's help for how to deal with depression in a relationship.

Is It My Mood or My Relationship?

Depression can affect someone at any age or season of life. If you haven't had depression before, you may not recognize it as a mental health disorder right away. Instead, you may attribute your mood to problems in the relationship. How can you tell which problem it is?

First, be aware. What are others are you saying? Often, others can see a change in you before you can detect them in yourself. Have those close to you asked you if something is wrong or if something has changed?

It's fairly easy to determine whether relationship issues pertain to your mood or something else. Depression carries specific symptoms. By reviewing them, you can either seek professional help to confirm a diagnosis of depression or rule out depression as a cause for our altered mood and get to work on your relationship.

Here are some symptoms of depression to consider:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, low mood
  • Wanting to eat substantially more or substantially less
  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time
  • Not enjoying activities you previously did
  • Restlessness or fatigue
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If the symptoms listed are chronic and ongoing and last for more than a few weeks, you could be dealing with depression. Depression can affect relationships in specific ways.

Depression can place a strain on relationships. It causes the person to behave in ways that stresses their partner and other relationships. For married partners, it can make them feel like their marriages are deteriorating. People living with depression are more likely to blame their partners when things go wrong or they may withdraw and not be able to talk about important things. Instead of reaching out and talking things through, they may shut down emotionally. This type of response usually sets off a reaction in their partner, which causes them to feel distressed and emotionally overwhelmed.

Source: pixabay.com

A depressed mood can keep friends and significant others at a distance. When symptoms of depression are severe, they can leave loved ones feeling helpless and afraid. The challenge is to sort out what things are contributing to relationship issues. Then, they can work together to treat depression and rebuild the relationship. Treating depression nearly always requires professional help. The non-affected partner plays an important role in supporting their partner as they recover from depression. Whether you're dealing with a friendship or a love relationship, there's help for how to deal with depression in a relationship.

Is It My Mood or My Relationship?

Depression can affect someone at any age or season of life. If you haven't had depression before, you may not recognize it as a mental health disorder right away. Instead, you may attribute your mood to problems in the relationship. How can you tell which problem it is?

First, be aware. What are others are you saying? Often, others can see a change in you before you can detect them in yourself. Have those close to you asked you if something is wrong or if something has changed?

It's fairly easy to determine whether relationship issues pertain to your mood or something else. Depression carries specific symptoms. By reviewing them, you can either seek professional help to confirm a diagnosis of depression or rule out depression as a cause for our altered mood and get to work on your relationship.

Here are some symptoms of depression to consider:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, low mood
  • Wanting to eat substantially more or substantially less
  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time
  • Not enjoying activities you previously did
  • Restlessness or fatigue
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If the symptoms listed are chronic and ongoing and last for more than a few weeks, you could be dealing with depression. Depression can affect relationships in specific ways.

Depression can place a strain on relationships. It causes the person to behave in ways that stresses their partner and other relationships. For married partners, it can make them feel like their marriages are deteriorating. People living with depression are more likely to blame their partners when things go wrong or they may withdraw and not be able to talk about important things. Instead of reaching out and talking things through, they may shut down emotionally. This type of response usually sets off a reaction in their partner, which causes them to feel distressed and emotionally overwhelmed.

Source: pixabay.com

Focus on eating healthy meals. Make good food choices and eat small, healthy meals each day. Find a way to exercise together. Take walks, ride bicycles, go to the gym, or do some type of activity you can enjoy together.

Accompany your boyfriend to therapy appointments and wait in the waiting room for support.

Keep things low stress at home. Try to keep a routine for work, meals, exercise, and other things.

Try to encourage low-key social activities. Your boyfriend may not feel up to big events for a while but make small plans to get out of the house and grab some coffee, go to a movie, or run an errand.

Be positive. Sometimes it's contagious. Point out your boyfriend's strengths and help him see progress but be sure to be genuine.

Set small goals. Break big things down into small tasks and focus on accomplishing them a little at a time. Start with things like taking a shower and eating healthy. Practice patience and understanding until your boyfriend makes progress in his treatment plan. With the right treatment, things will get better.

Have I Fallen Out of Love or Am I Depressed?

When two people fall in love, they feel like the other person is their whole world. However, feelings can fade over time, and love can change or dissipate.

Remember that depression has specific symptoms that are chronic and last for more than a few weeks. Depression can impact your intimacy negatively enough to cause the other partner to become ambivalent and wonder if the relationship can continue.

If depression doesn't seem to fit the situation, you have to take an honest look at the relationship. People do fall out of love. Over time, one or both partners can become ambivalent towards each other. They may not necessarily dislike one another or anything specific about them. It just may be that love, and romantic feelings have diminished to the point that one or both partners either want someone new or they just want to move on.

For spouses that constantly fight and are always angry, usually, they're angry at the behavior, not the person. They need professional help in learning how to communicate better and compromise.

Depression and relationship issues are both treatable. When mental health challenges intersect with relationships, both issues can be treated at the same time. Both have good outlooks with the right treatment.

Heed the Warning Signs of Suicide

The risk of suicide can accompany depression. Whether your loved one is a family member or a friend, it's important to know the warning signs associated with suicide and be prepared to act on them.

Be aware of the following red flags of potential suicide:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Having a plan to carry out suicide
  • Getting the means to carry out the plan-buying a gun, etc.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Preoccupation with death
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Saying goodbye
  • Giving things away
  • Getting final affairs in order
  • Engaging in risky behavior, substance abuse, reckless driving

If you believe someone is having feelings about hurting themselves or someone else, seek the advice of a crisis mental health professional immediately. In an urgent situation, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

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Relationships can be complicated. Even under the best of circumstances, it can be difficult to have the assurance that a relationship is healthy. Adding depression to a relationship complicates things further. Counselors and therapists are specially trained to help couples and friends navigate the stresses on relationships when depression is a factor. Seeking help is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved one.


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