Depression and Relationships:
Supporting Your Partner with
Empathy and Solidarity
A person living with depression is not the only one to be impacted by their mental health: partners and family members will also feel the ups and downs, the grey days and the bright days keenly. Only the partner of someone living with depression will know the feeling of dread as the clouds approach.
There are many activities that can help you to support your partner with empathy and solidarity. These will, of course, vary from person to person, and can include a mix of coping mechanisms and local activities designed to boost serotonin and help manage mental health episodes.
Understanding the signs of depression
The first step to supporting a partner with depression is to gain a better understanding of them, their emotional state, and how they feel when they are feeling low or depressed. Ask them to explain to you how they feel, if there are any triggers that they feel may exacerbate their depression, and if there is anything that you can do to support them, both as the clouds start to approach, and once the low mood arrives.
Make sure that you take the time to listen more than you talk; it is important that your partner feels loved, supported and listened to. This is an opportunity for you to understand how they are affected by depression, and if there is anything you can do to help.
People living with depression are often unaware that their behaviour has changed and if they are aware, they may be unable to vocalise how they are feeling. However, they may be telling you in the way that they behave. Take note of any signs that your partner is feeling low. These signs will be unique to your partner but could involve overeating, or a lack of appetite, exhaustion and an inability to get out of bed, or challenges with sexual function that could potentially find relief through specific approaches like taking Sildenafil.
By understanding some of the more common signs that your partner is feeling depressed, it is possible for you to prepare yourself, and implement some subtle support measures to protect you both.
Engage in fitness activities
When someone is feeling depressed, they are probably not likely to want to get out and do exercise, especially if it involves interacting with other people. However, fitness is great for the body and soul, and is beneficial in supporting people who are experiencing depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems at a relatively low cost.
Hit open water
Water-based activities are proven to be particularly beneficial for boosting mental health and relieving anxiety. There are plenty of water-based activities to choose from paddleboarding to traditional punting, and wild swimming.
When you are worrying about someone experiencing mental health issues or depression, it can be easy to forget to look after yourself. However, forgetting self-care can put you at risk of developing depression, too, as well as making you less able to look after the people around you. In short: in order to look after everyone else, you have to make sure that you are strong!
Self-care techniques can include finding time for yourself. Self-care essentials include:
Taking part in a sport or activity that you love, such as joining a local football club or simply finding a quiet moment to read a book,
Creating a strong support network around you; despite your loyalty to your partner, it is important that you have people that you can confide in and who will support you without judgement,
Developing habits that are healthy for your body as well as your mind (such as not skipping meals, eating a healthy diet, trying to get enough sleep, and avoiding too much alcohol)
Practicing mindfulness; there are plenty of mindfulness techniques, such as journaling, deep breathing, yoga or meditation so a little trial and error can help you to find the right one for you.
Remember it’s not personal
Being the partner of someone experiencing depression can be incredibly lonely. It can help to remind yourself that your partner isn’t in control of how they are feeling, or the impact that that is having on you. What they are going through is not about you; try to remind yourself that they are a good person, who you love, and that they are not intentionally trying to hurt or upset you.
If at any time you are seriously concerned about the safety, health or wellbeing of your spouse or of yourself, then seek appropriate medical help. In the first instance, it is a good idea to contact your GP and discuss how you are feeling and how your partner is behaving. If their depression is not under control, you may be able to broach with them that they should speak to their doctor about new or alternative medications.
Creating a supportive environment
In times of depression, your home should be a haven of support and tranquility. Identify and reduce any stressors or triggers in your living space together. This may involve decluttering, organizing, or making changes to create a more soothing atmosphere. Foster positivity by discussing the positives in your relationship and life. Embrace gratitude and incorporate uplifting elements, like art or music, to nurture mental well-being. Ensure your home meets your partner's specific needs, collaborating to make it comfortable and accommodating.
Look beyond the immediate challenges of depression by setting realistic expectations. Understand that relapses can occur despite efforts and treatment, and be patient during these times. Plan long-term goals together to provide purpose and direction. They don't need to be elaborate; they can be simple, such as future vacations or shared aspirations. Prioritize self-care for both yourself and your partner, seeking support when necessary. By nurturing your well-being and staying committed to each other, you can navigate depression together and maintain a resilient, loving relationship.
In the journey of supporting a partner through depression, it's crucial to understand that the impact extends beyond the individual facing this mental health challenge. Throughout this article, we've explored strategies to provide empathetic support and nurture a resilient, loving relationship.
About the Author
Veronika Biliavska is an independent copywriter and marketing consultant. She is passionate about rocket science and ancient Greek literature.