Have realistic expectations. Many of us with a partner who is depressed expect that we should be able to provide a remedy for the depression. If only we could make him laugh. If only she would get up and go out. But depression is a complicated and often serious emotional illness that cannot be cured overnight. Do not expect to alleviate it magically. Thinking that you can “cure” the depression is not realistic. Be patient and have sensible expectations for what you can and cannot do. Your partners depression is not your fault, and although you can help him, you cannot make it go away.
… Offer unqualified support. What your depressed partner needs more than anything is your unconditional love and support. He needs to know that despite his recent moodiness and irritability, you will be there for him during this period. You need to convey that you will work as a team to conquer the depression and that you do not blame him, or yourself, for what is happening. Despite all our best intentions, however, depressed people often turn down our offers of support.
…Maintain your routine as much as possible. When your partner is depressed, try to maintain your regular routine as much as possible. Keep up with friends and do as many of your usual activities as you can to keep the depression from becoming contagious. Make time for yourself so that you are refreshed and better equipped to help your partner through his depression. Maintaining your usual patterns can be hard, especially when someone close to you is depressed for an extended period of time.
…Share your feelings. It is absolutely imperative that you let your partner know how you feel. Communicating your feelings directly is the best way to avoid the kind of misunderstandings that arise when your partner is depressed. Many partners of depressed people feel as if it is not fair to burden their loved one with their own problems. Bennett worried that telling Leslie about his fears would only deepen her depression. He was wrong. Even when your partner is depressed, you need to let him know what you are thinking and feeling. Sharing your experiences is vital to the kind of collaborative dialogue with your partner that you need to solve problems together. Part of coping with having a depressed partner is learning to tolerate some of the negative feelings towards him. Being able to talk about these feelings makes that coping much easier.
… Ask for help.
… Many partners of depressed people assume that once they have gotten their loved one into treatment, their work is done. Is it not. Living with a depressed person, whether he is in treatment or not, can be very stressful and can take a toll on your work, your social life, your health, and your emotions. Getting help for yourself is an integral part of your relationships adaptation to the depression.
- pg. 50, When Someone You Love Is Depressed – Laura Rosen & Xavier Amador, ISBN 978-0-684-83407-8