Tips For Dating Someone With Depression

Updated April 2, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Loving and dating someone with depression can be difficult. Even if you understand what is going on with that person, you may wonder why your love is not enough to bring them out of their depressive mood. You may even lose your patience with them and then feel bad about it afterward.

When you are feeling frustrated or confused about your partner, remember that it just as difficult for people with depression to be in a relationship too. One of the major symptoms of depression is low self-esteem and feelings of shame and delf-doubt. People who are depressed may wonder why someone can love them when they feel they are unworthy of love. They may also feel they are unable to return their love in the way their partners deserve to be loved. Furthermore, fatigue and decreased motivation may keep a person with depression from wanting to go out and do fun things with their partner. Depressive disorder can be difficult for both parties, but it does not have to ruin a relationship. Here are some tips to help you maneuver the challenges of dating someone with depression and how to help not only your significant other, but yourself work through them in a positive light. Let's get started with handling depression and relationships.

Does Someone You Care For Have Depression?

1. Remember That Your Partner Has A Mental Illness

The first step towards maintaining a healthy relationship when one of you is managing a depressive disorder is to learn how to identify when and how it may be interfering with relationship dynamics. This begins with you knowing about what it means to live with a depressive disorder, including signs and symptoms and treatment options. 

If you have a loved with depression, you are most likely aware of how it presents. Depressive disorders are typically diagnosed when a person experiences symptoms of depression that last for more two weeks. These symptoms include: 

  • Excessive fatigue

  • Mood changes, including low mood and irritability

  • Extreme sadness and/or feelings of hopelessness

  • Lack of motivation or initiative 

  • Appetite and weight changes, including undereating and overeating

  • Sleep changes, including excessive sleeping and insomnia

  • Thoughts of suicide or wanting to die 

  • Not being able to enjoy things that you once enjoyed

If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 988 or 1-800-273-8255 and is available to assist 24/7.

Remember that as much as we may wish it were true it is biologically not possible for someone to just "shake off" depression. We must remind ourselves that depression is a mental health disorder that is often caused by chemical imbalances in the brain that require medication or other psychological interventions to correct. Your partner is not engaging in this behavior just to be difficult. It is a condition that they may have difficulty controlling, with or without therapy and medication.

If you are dealing with impatience, frustration, or even anger towards your partner, remind yourself of how difficult it is for you to function normally when you do not feel well or are experiencing times of intense stress. This is what your partner is going through. Steer away from pretending like nothing is wrong when something is wrong. Showing your partner compassion is one of the most helpful things you can do for them.

2. Learn How To Support Your Partner

One of the least successful things you can do - and the most frustrating for both of you- is to try and "fix" your partner's illness. You cannot fix depression any more than you can fix an allergy disorder. It is a condition that must be managed.

More helpful ways to support your partner include being compassionate, loving, and sympathetic to what they are going through. You can ask your partner what it is that they are feeling at the moment, and what they need or want to feel better. This can be as simple as a warm hug or understanding (and not taking it personally) that they need to be alone for the evening or cannot go to an event because they have an appointment with their doctor or counselor.

When we offer support to our partners, we are showing them that even though it pains us to watch them hurt, we have accepted the fact that we do not need to heal their pain. With this acceptance, you will show your partner you are available in whatever ways they need you. If your significant other has not seen or has stopped seeing a professional clinician for therapeutic support, it is understandable that you approach them and advise them to get the help you need. 

3. Remain Flexible In Your Plans

You may make plans on Monday to go out on Saturday, but when Saturday rolls around, your partner has difficulty getting out of bed. This is not their desire to be difficult, but that their depressive disorder is intervening with their ability to function. Do not get angry and try to shame them for "ruining" your plans. Instead, re-work your day so that you still get to do something nice without having to make your partner uncomfortable. 

For example, if the plan was to go out with your partner and have a nice meal, instead you can make a nice meal for your partner right at home. Make it dinner in bed and pop in a movie. You may find that you can still have a great time not getting all decked out in nice clothes and driving somewhere, only to wait around for 30 minutes because there are no tables available. The occasional dinner at home can be much more relaxing and enjoyable, plus your partner will appreciate your understanding and flexibility. Equally important, if your partner wants to be alone, accept that and maybe call a friend to meet you for dinner.

4. Learn to Accept When It Is Not About Depression

Throughout your relationship, even though your partner does manage a depressive disorder, they may develop legitimate grievances about where the future of your relationship is headed. There are several reasons a couple’s relationship is challenged by pressures unrelated to depression. Despite a mood disorder diagnosis, this is not the reason for every decision your partner makes.

Healthy relationships require both partners to validate each other’s feelings. Listen to your partner's concerns before deciding whether they are coming from a place of real consideration, or whether it is a symptom of depression. Also, be just as open with your partner as you would any other person with whom you are close. Their depressive disorder does not define them and you still can, and should, express your unhappiness or frustration with them and set boundaries as needed.

5. Acknowledge That Depression Can Affect Your Sex Life

A major factor in conflict within relationship is related to sex, especially if there is not enough of it for one or both parties satisfaction. However, depression can also be to blame for that. In fact, research has shown that 75% of people who are experiencing depression report a lack of sex drive. If this lack of intimacy is because of low sex drive related to a depressive disorder, know that it is not a reflection of their love for you or your attractiveness. Be open to discussing problems in the bedroom and show your partner you understand what they are going through. Remember that not only can depression decrease your sex drive, but also antidepressant medications. If you openly address these issues without blame or anger, both of you can come up with a strategy to increase intimacy in a healthy and safe manner.  

If the problems have become more frequent than occasional, you may want to discuss with your partner the options of different treatments and medications (if they are not already tried). You both may find your relationship improves significantly if your partner seeks professional help for these concerns.

6. Remember The Don'ts

It is just as important to remember things you should not do or say as it is to be proactive on the actions that should be taken. When it comes to helping your partner handle their depression, remember the following "don'ts" to save you both a lot of frustration and heartache:

  • Don't say dismissive things like "shake it off" or "get over it."

  • Don't force them to talk about it if they're not up to it.

  • Don't try to "fix" them, and don't feel bad if you can't.

  • Don't be frustrated that simply being with you is not making them feel better.

  • Don't offer solutions, like "you just need more exercise…or to eat better…or some fresh air."

  • Don't let them treat you poorly just because they're having an off day. Even depression is no excuse for treating someone unfairly or without respect.

  • Don't feel like you always must fill the silence. Sometimes a warm hug and a shoulder to cry on are worth more than words.

7. Do Not Be Afraid To Get Involved

If your partner wants you to join them for treatment, then take part. Your partner may feel more comfortable getting treatment with you by their side. You can even participate in family and couples therapy. While it may sound like such treatment is specifically for internal strife in familial and romantic relationships, such treatment can also be helpful for couples who are hitting a wall because of the impact of having a partner with a mental health condition like depression.

8. Seek Additional Support 

When you are dating someone with depression, your concerns may often seem small when compared to theirs. So, you had a bad day at the office…at least it is not depression. But this is not fair to you or your partner. Everyone has a bad day occasionally, and everyone deserves the chance to get that bad day off their chest.

If your partner is having a particularly bad day too, reach out to your support network for help. Call a friend or a family who will allow you to vent and commiserate with you on your bad day. On the same token, do not hesitate to talk to your partner. It may feel like you are adding to their mental or emotional workload,  but let your partner know how you are feeling. Be honest and refrain from assuming your partner cannot handle it. Again, this is assuming a bias against your partner because of their mental health condition. It is not healthy for you or your relationship to repress your stress for your partner's sake. And if you both communicate your feelings with each other, your partner will understand.

Getting Professional Help

When your family and friends' support group is not enough to help relieve tension or stress in your relationship, consider seeking the help of a professional therapist. Whether it be for you alone or the both of you, your therapist can help you both come to an understanding of how to manage the challenges that arise from living with a mental health disorder. They can also help with any other issue not related to the mental illness itself, such as intimacy issues or how to manage personal stressors with resilience. 

Life is difficult and can be busy. You may not be able to find the time to meet with an in-person therapist, or your partner may simply not want to leave their personal space. One solution to this problem is seeking counseling online. Attending therapy online gives you the freedom to set the time for your sessions where you can attend in the comfort of your own home. Furthermore, research supports the efficacy of online therapeutic interventions in the treatment of depression. In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, an extensive review revealed that people managing depressive disorder who received internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) showed an improvement in symptoms. Researchers also reported the treatment cost less while reaching a diverse and large number of people. 

If you are interested in therapy online, consider reaching out to one of our BetterHelp counselors who can give you more information and advice on what your next steps should be. 


Living with depression is a challenge, especially when symptoms affect your ability to accomplish daily tasks or even simply to enjoy your life. If you are dating someone with depression, you most likely understand how difficult their journey can be. However, treatment is available and, combined with medications, can greatly improve their quality of life, and in many cases, lead to remission of symptoms. You are a positive influence in your partner’s life and your interest in supporting them is a healthy part of their recovery process. However, you need not do it alone. Remember help is available, you simply need to reach out. 

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

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