When I was in high school, I was in a serious long-term relationship with a guy who struggled with depression. He was extremely smart, good-looking, funny, and charming – but he was also very depressed, sometimes suicidal, and dealing with an addictive personality. There were days when he was totally fine, days where he would feel miserable and restless no matter what, and the worst days, when his voice would become dead and flat, and he would tell me how he didn’t want to be alive anymore. I loved him and cared about him so much, and I wanted to help him and be there for him. I thought I could handle it, in fact, I thought I could fix him – but at 15-years-old, I was in very far over my head. And whenever I get emails from you guys asking how to deal with a depressed significant other, it breaks my heart, because I know exactly how hard it is to be in that situation.
Depression isn’t always logical and can’t always be explained. There is no easy fix, no structure, no certain cure. And when you’re in love with someone who is depressed, you can’t accept that, because you want to do everything you can to make them happy. I did everything I could for my ex, but I didn’t fully understand what he was going through, and I made plenty of mistakes along the way. When you’re dealing with someone like this, it’s almost impossible not to. I wish I had asked for advice when I was struggling with this, but I didn’t. I felt like I had to do it on my own, and obviously, I couldn’t.
You don’t have to feel that way! If you’re feeling lost, here are some things you have to do when your significant other is depressed. The advice comes from this Ask Reddit thread, and it’s incredibly insightful. They won’t bring about a cure, but they will definitely help both of you in some way. Good luck!
Get Familiar With TriggersMost people who suffer from depression have triggers, AKA things that can make them feel depressed quickly. For some, it's pretty obvious - death, some kind of accident, or someone they know getting hurt. For others, triggers could be something that seem innocent to someone else, like a movie (even a funny one), a certain restaurant, or a time of the year. Triggers can be anything, basically. And if you're dating someone with depression, it's important to try and figure out what their triggers are so that you can prepare yourself to help them. As user Cellar______Door says, "Know what bothers them and help them to avoid it. Certain people, times, days, or activities... it's also a good idea to have something to look forward to, to get them out of the house for a change of scenery." Sometimes you can't avoid triggers, but other times you can do your best to help your S.O. before the depression hits. At the very least, you'll know when to expect it. Source: iStock
Be Supportive, But Stop Asking What's WrongThis sounds like stupid advice. You might be thinking, "You want me to be supportive, but you also want me to act like everything is fine?" No. This advice means to be there for them, and to try and figure out what's wrong, but to also remember that sometimes, a depressed person doesn't know what's wrong. Constantly being asked that can make them more upset. As user nevertoo explains, "Don't keep asking what's wrong. It's draining to have your attention drawn to the fact that 'nothing' is causing your suffering." If your partner doesn't know why they're depressed, don't ask every time they get down. Instead, show your support by saying, "What can I do to help? I'm here for you, and if you want to talk, you can whenever you want. But in the meantime, tell me what I can do for you." Source: iStock
Brace Yourself For The Fact That They Won't Want HelpOne of the hardest things about dealing with a depressed S.O. is when they refuse your help. Some depressed people don't want to admit they have clinical depression. Some depressed people simply don't believe in getting help in the form of therapy or medication. Others just do not want help at all. But you still need to try - as user JesusBuilt-MyHotrod points out, "Get them into therapy and keep them active. Don't expect them to want to do either and be understanding." Go into the trying with the realization that your S.O. might not want your help. When my ex was suicidal, I would beg him to go to therapy. He refused. He never agreed to go until years later, when we were no longer together. It killed me to watch him refuse help, but it happens quite often, and you have to remember that there's only so much you can do. Source: iStock
Give Yourself SpaceWhen you're dating someone who is depressed, it's very easy to forget about your own well-being. You're so obsessed with their feelings and with trying to make them feel better that you stop thinking about yourself. Yes, your bae is important, but you are too! User sneakyneXXt says, "Take time for yourself. With all the help you give to her, you'll need time for yourself. Don't forget to spend time with YOUR friends. It's important to keep your own life active. Otherwise you'll spend everything on her and get mad. Let's be honest here. That wouldn't help." It's true - the more you ignore your well-being, the more it's going to make you feel bitter and angry towards your partner, even if you don't realize it's happening. This is exactly what happened to me. I was so obsessed with making my ex better that I forgot about myself. By the end of our relationship, I was furious at him for taking up so much space in my life that I let my own well-being fall to the side. In reality, it was partly my fault! You need to give yourself some space from your S.O. Have days where it's just about you, even if you're with your friends or on your own. Source: iStock
Let Them Feel Their FeelingsYou want your bae to be happy, not depressed. So, sometimes you end up assuming that they just need to be told to be happier and that you shouldn't let them sit around feeling "sad." I totally get that. I used to do that with my ex, because I didn't know what else to do. I would try to distract him from all of his feelings in the hopes he would forget about them. What I didn't realize was that his depression wasn't like my sad moods, which I could shake off by distracting myself. His depression was bigger than that, and he needed to feel those things. User tuxedoburrito" says, "As someone who has suffered with deep episodes of depression, the worst thing you can do is ask them "why are you staring at the wall all morning? Why don't you get out of bed? What's wrong? Why are you so sad? Cheer up." Sometimes we're just sad for no explanation, because we suffer from depression. Instead, just be there with them. Watch a show with them and if they want to talk they will about it but don't just tell them to cheer up." Let them feel sad, and be supportive and be there for them. Know when it's gotten to the point where it's too much, but don't always try to ignore it. Source: iStock
Stop Trying To Fix ItYou can't "fix" your bae's depression. You can't make it go away - so don't bother trying. As user missingherdearly points out: "The only tip I have is to just listen and be there for her when you can. You're not going to fix anything, so there's nothing tangible you can really do, but just being there for her seemed to always help. Being there to let her talk or cry or whatever she needs doesn't seem like much, but for a lot of people it helps them deal with their depression to have someone they trust to open up to about it." This doesn't mean you should do nothing but listen to them talk or cry, it just means you should get out of the mindset of, "I can fix this on my own because we love each other." You can't, and the more you think that, the crappier YOU are going to feel. Source: iStock
Be Firm SometimesIf you only read the above advice, then it might seem like your role as a depressed person's significant other is to be there for them and let them cry if they need to. This isn't always the case. Dealing with someone's depression is so tough because it is such a delicate balance. Yes, you have to let them feel their depression without making them feel like they're just being dramatic. Yes, sometimes they need time to just feel depressed in bed. But sometimes, they also need someone to push them to get out of bed or get out of the house and do something - and you have to figure out when they get to that point, because you know them best. User mercfh85Male says, "Anyways most people here are going to tell you to listen/be their rock etc.. and that's correct and great. HOWEVER I found out the hard way that there is an extent where you can only just sit back. We both go to therapy and essentially this is one she told both of us. There is a certain point where you cannot "coddle" them, which is what I was doing. She was depressed so I was doing all the chores....all the work.....all the cooking/cleaning/etc..., where-as she just stayed in bed or laid around. Now before anyone jumps down my throat, I get it, I really do, as depression is not easy. However self-admittedly I was "allowing" her to do this and it actually made it much worse for both of us. So OP I guess I must say while being a rock/supportive is ABSOLUTELY needed and you should do that, you have to be a little firm sometimes to get them up. Sometimes they need to sort of take matters into their own hands since you cannot fix their depression, only they can." Source: iStock
Talk To SomeoneAgain, it's so easy to get totally focused on helping your bae that you can easily forget about yourself. The truth is that you should be talking to someone too, whether it's a friend or a professional. User AWG_Trees says, " I cannot provide the professional mental health care that my wife needs to recover. I can be responsible for my own mental health. I have a personal therapist myself who helps me advocate for me so that I continue to help my wife in ways that are not self-destructive." I wish I had gone to a therapist when I was with my ex - it would have helped me so much. I wish I had even opened up to a friend! I didn't do any of that, and it made things so much harder. Instead of keeping this all to yourself, go to someone - a professional is best, as they know what to do and say, but if you refuse to do that, at least talk to a trusted friend or family member. Source: iStock
Do Your Best To Understand Without Being CondescendingHere's what this means: learn about depression as much as you can. Read about it, talk to a professional, watch something about it. Understand as much as you can without acting like you TOTALLY understand, because unless you've been depressed, you don't. User Pureburn explains: "If you've never experienced clinical levels of depression, don't try to understand it. You can and should empathize with her feelings, but don't try to rationalize them. For many people, depression is not something that is fully or even partially rational. Something that isn't a big deal to anyone could trigger her depression." Be empathetic, but don't be condescending. There's a line, and crossing it can make things really hard. Source: iStock
Start MeditatingIt might sound random, but it shouldn't. Meditation and/or yoga are so important for a depressed person and someone dealing with a loved one who is depressed. It's amazing what these natural healing practices can do. As user JesusBuilt-MyHotrod says, "If you can help her meditate that'd probably help. I convinced my severely depressed father to do some Zen meditation with me for 20 minutes and he told me it was one of the first times he felt the "pressure" release a bit without drugs or alcohol. Most therapy these days is mindfulness based anyway." If meditation and yoga are off the table, at least do something active. Exercise boosts endorphins and is a real way to help combat depression. Take a walk, go for a run, hit the gym, play a sport - just something active. Source: iStock
Have you ever had a depressed significant other? What did we forget to add here? Let me know in the comments.