Navigating Depression In Love Relationships

Medically reviewed by Katrice Hollins, LCSW, LICSW
Updated October 19, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide which could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. Free support is available 24/7. Please also see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Depression is a mental health condition that can feel difficult to live with. There are several types, include major depressive disorder and dysthymia. Depression is also one of the main states that occurs in bipolar disorder. Symptoms such as withdrawal from others, irritability, and a loss of interest in activities are all common in those living with depression. It may also affect a person’s life, well-being, and relationships. 

When one person in a relationship struggles with a mental health condition such as depression, there may be unique obstacles. It may feel challenging to recognize if symptoms are attributed to a person’s mental health or the relationship itself. Learning about depression and working together can help a couple maintain a healthy connection.

Coping With Depression In A Relationship Can Be A Challenge

Navigating Depression In Relationships

Navigating relationships on top of depression or mental health symptoms can feel challenging. On your own, you may only worry about yourself. When you partake in intimate relationships, you may also find yourself concerned with their well-being.  

You may worry that your depression is negatively affecting your relationship. However, there are some steps you can take to effectively navigate depression while being in a relationship, including the following: 

  • Take care of yourself

  • Find support outside of your partner

  • Help your partner help you

  • Avoid arguments or discussions when you’re not emotionally stable

  • Find coping mechanisms that work for you

Can Depression Effect Relationships?

While depression is a common mental health concern, not everyone knows how it can impact interpersonal connections (relationships). Since people are now aware of the vitality of mental health, there are movies about depression that attempt to explain depression and its effects on relationships. It may impact relationships with friends, romantic partners, family members, and even yourself. You may notice a few socially related symptoms if you’re living with depression.  

Feeling Less Excited 

You might feel less excited about plans. Symptoms such as losing interest in activities might mean you feel less excited about dates and other modes of quality time with a partner.     

Distancing From Others

Depression can cause individuals to withdraw from others, including those closest to them. You may feel disconnected from others or want to isolate yourself in general due to low mood or feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. You may also want to isolate yourself so that others don’t notice your symptoms or know how you feel. 

Lacking Energy 

You may lack energy. Fatigue and sleeping too much or too little are two notable and frequently experienced depression symptoms that can contribute to this. General self-care and participating in interpersonal relationships can feel challenging.

Libido Changes

Depression may change your libido. If you’re in a relationship where sexual activity is a factor, it may bring up new challenges. 

Is It My Mood Or My Relationship?

Depression may affect someone at any age or phase of life. If you haven’t had a depressive episode before, you may wonder what’s going on or might not recognize it as depression immediately. 

Since many people with depression stop feeling excited over things that would typically make them happy, you might feel disinterested and mistake it for falling out of love. In turn, you might wonder whether your mood or relationship is at fault. 

How can you tell which one is the real culprit? Knowing the signs of a depressive episode may be helpful. If you notice the signs in yourself, you may wish to pursue a diagnosis or reach out for the help of a counselor or therapist. 

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Sadness, hopelessness, or consistent low mood

  • Eating substantially more or less than usual 

  • Not being able to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time

  • Not enjoying activities that you previously enjoyed

  • Restlessness or fatigue

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling worthless

  • Feeling numb

  • Excessive crying

  • Agitation or increased irritability

  • Thoughts of death or suicide*

If the symptoms listed are chronic and ongoing and last for more than a few weeks, you could be living with a diagnosable mental health condition. 

*Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 988 if you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Facts About Depression 

Many individuals live with mental health conditions, including about one in five people in the United States. Experiencing symptoms of any mental health condition doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t maintain healthy relationships.

Mental health stigma exists, and people may have inaccurate assumptions or beliefs. However, depressive mental illnesses are among the most common mental health diagnoses, and many people know at least one person living with depression, whether they know it or not.  

Romantic Relationships

Regarding navigating an intimate relationship with depression, it may be similar to navigating needs in any relationship. It can require open communication, effort, and honesty on both sides. 

For example, if you live with depression, it might be helpful to communicate with your partner directly. You might say something like:

  • “I’m feeling irritable today and need time to myself to use self-care/journal/take a walk/etc.” 

  • “I’m sorry I seemed withdrawn last night; I’m struggling and want you to know it’s not you.” 

  • “I’m having a rough day and feel like crying. Can we sit next to each other and watch a movie?”

You might also choose to give your partner a book on depression to help them learn more about how your symptoms affect you. If your partner struggles to read, consider a quick YouTube video or having a conversation with them. 

Is Depression Treatable? 

There are effective depression treatments, including forms of talk therapy, medication, and other interventions. Please consult a mental health professional before starting, changing, or stopping medication options.

It can take time to find the proper treatment for you. Learning how to navigate various concerns in an interpersonal relationship can also take time. Try to be patient with yourself and extend compassion to you and your partner throughout the process.

Supporting A Partner With Depression

Maybe you don’t have depression, but your partner does, dating someone with depression could be challenging if you don't know what to do. If you have a partner who is living with depression, is about to start depression treatment, or is currently undergoing depression treatment, there are a few steps you might take to support them. 

Attend Therapy Together 

Offer to attend a therapy appointment with your partner to learn more about the condition and its symptoms. If applicable, you may also decide to see a couple’s counselor. Couples counseling may help you increase your understanding of your partner’s condition. Relationships often focus on working together, so attending a session together can be one way to learn new relationship skills. 

Practice Patience 

Try not to tell your partner to “get over it” in reference to their depression, and consider not offering unsolicited advice. Depression may feel frustrating for the person living with it, and they may feel shameful, embarrassed, or upset if you try to act as a therapist or “fix” them. 

Take Care Of Yourself 

One of the tips for dating someone with depression is to not forget to take care of yourself. Self-care can be important for anyone, including you. There are support groups for loved ones of people living with depression and other similar conditions, which might be helpful if you feel lost, unsure of what to do to help your partner, or need a place to talk to people who understand.

Enjoy The “Little” Things

Enjoy fewer overwhelming activities together. For example, you might watch a movie, cook a meal, or clean together. If your partner struggles with these activities, you might plan a self-care night, spa day, or something relaxing. 

Care For Your Relationship 

Continue to care for your relationship as you would care for any. Whatever makes you and your partner feel loved, try to achieve it. For example, if you enjoy spending quality time together, consider spending a night watching movies and eating snacks. If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, you might write them a letter or tell them all the reasons you appreciate them. 

All couples may go through rough patches. Even if your partner did not struggle with depression, you might still experience stressors or life difficulties. Try not to pin all struggles on your partner’s mental health, as struggles can be expected. 

Have I Fallen Out Of Love, Or Do I Have Depression?

When two people fall in love, the feeling of “butterflies” or affection may run high. At times, these feelings may hide a lack of compatibility or other concerns that wind up showing themselves later down the line. Feelings can fade over time, and love can change or dissipate.

If you’re unsure if you’re depressed, you may want to look at your relationship. People can fall out of love. Over time, one or both partners may feel ambivalent toward each other. They may not necessarily dislike one another or have issues. It could be that love or romantic feelings have diminished to the point that one or both partners want to move on.

In some cases, depression may cause you to worry about not loving your partner. Perhaps you feel so down that you struggle to experience positive emotions, including love. If this is the case, time or treatment may be in order. 

Depression and relationship issues are often treatable. If you wish to work on your relationship or depression, speaking to a professional may be the most beneficial choice. 

Coping With Depression In A Relationship Can Be A Challenge

Counseling For Relationships

Relationships can be complicated, and the same is often true for other areas of life. Even under the best of circumstances, relationship concerns may arise. Whether you want to address feelings of depression, interpersonal relationships, life stress, or something else, consider seeking professional care when you need it. 

Depression may cause it to feel difficult for you to get out of bed or prepare to drive to a therapy session. If you relate, online therapy may be an option. Online therapy often allows you to get care sooner than usual, and you may not have to worry about driving long distances to get to your sessions. 

One study on online therapy found that adults using an internet-based intervention experienced a significant reduction in their depression symptoms. This finding was equal across people of different genders, financial statuses, physical health statuses, and histories of psychotherapy. If you’d like to participate in this type of counseling, consider an online platform such as BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples.


Being in a relationship when you are diagnosed with depression can feel challenging. It may impact both partners. Although a partner may not be able to support you professionally, a counselor can be an effective option in treating the symptoms of your condition. Consider reaching out to a therapist independently or with a partner to discuss your treatment goals further.

Depression is treatable, and you're not alone

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