Depression in Relationships
Hey, hey, hey! I hope y’all are thriving and taking life One Bite at a Time. I feel like it’s super easy to get caught up with all the tasks and lists inside our heads, so please remind yourselves that it’s important to take the time to slow down and to just be. When I was bussing and also working two jobs a couple years ago... I remember feeling like I was losing myself in a way because of my busy schedule and never-ending task list. My depression and anxiety flared up, especially after the pandemic hit, and I needed to learn how to take care of me. I had to learn how to take personal time away from my schedule and to allow myself to just be. It’s important to take a few minutes, or if you can, a few hours to do something you genuinely enjoy or something that brings peace to your soul. Your body and mind will thank you.
Today I’d like to talk about something that’s extremely important to be aware of... depression in relationships. Of course, as a society we are becoming more aware of the impacts of mental health and we are coming to realize how significant it is to actually take care of people and ourselves in that sense. However, I think that although we are making huge strides in educating ourselves on mental health, we still need to learn more about how depression can impact our relationships and how we can work through it with our loved ones.
Living with depression in general is quite difficult in itself whether you have functional depression or not. It can be exhausting and debilitating at times. Then, when we add relationships into the mix it can become a little more overwhelming as well. As a romantic partner, friend, family member, colleague, etc…it is important to look out for the signs and symptoms. Some common symptoms of depression are:
o Low self-esteem
o Tiredness and fatigue
o Irritability and anger
o Loss of enjoyment in activities and hobbies
o Expressing feeling of worthlessness, loneliness, or sadness
o Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
o Sleeping and/or eating more than or less than usual
These symptoms can range from mild-to-severe depending on the vulnerability of the individual.
In any relationship, it is important to provide a safe space where both people can share their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. I feel that a lot of the time we get caught up in all of these big expectations we have for people, but in reality, sometimes we need to meet people where they’re at in that particular moment. This is especially important to do when we have built a relationship with someone who does struggle with their mental health at times, if not all the time. The hard part with this is that sometimes symptoms can show up differently in each unique individual and it may be difficult to figure out when to stand by certain expectations and when to meet someone halfway or in more severe cases all the way.
It can be hard to understand how you can best help someone who suffers from depression. It definitely does differ between individuals because each person has their own needs, however, it’s good to start somewhere and that is with support and reassurance. A few ways you can help someone with depression are:
Talk to them about your concerns and why you have them
Provide re-assurance and explain that depression is a medical condition and it does not mean it is a flaw or weakness
Suggest seeking a professional for help
Give positive reinforcement
Help create a low-stress environment (create routine to help them feel more in control)
Provide a listening ear
Offer-assistance in any way possible
Make plans together and give them something to look forward to
One other thing I would like to mention is that it is important to pay attention to if symptoms begin to worsen over time. In this case, I would suggest readdressing your concerns and explanations, suggest seeking a medical professional, make sure your loved one is in a safe environment, and provide positive reinforcement to continue with treatment.
Some ways depression can affect your relationship are:
Lack of intimacy (in a romantic partnership)
IMO, this will hopefully improve with time and treatment. Don’t be too hard on yourselves when it comes to this part. Depression definitely is the enemy when it comes to libido and intimacy.
Increase in irritability (could induce arguments or disagreements more)
My only advice with this one is to remind each other that it is the both of you against the problem and not one against each other. Take your space when needed and come up with a 'plan of action' for when blow-ups occur.
Emotional turmoil (uncontrolled emotional reactions)
I highly suggest allowing things to cool down before addressing huge outbursts and reactivity. Our emotions can be extremely overwhelming and are for sure exemplified when it comes to depression. Try your best to ground yourselves and discuss the issue or concerns together when it is safe to.
Exhaustion (lack of activity or desire to do things in the relationship)
This will mainly improve with time and treatment as well. I think the best thing you can do to help this is to maintain physical wellness the best you can with nutrition and daily movement. It may also be beneficial, depending on the severity of the depression, to make small plans together (ex. Grocery store trip, short walk in the park, get a coffee together, go on a mini day trip, etc) during the week or even the month.
Low self-esteem (need for constant reassurance)
This one hits home for me. It’s hard to snap out of a bout of low self-esteem, especially when it tends to affect us for long periods of time, if not all the time. I highly suggest providing positive reinforcements each day for your loved one that supports their character and their personal achievements. (ex. you are such a compassionate person, you are such a hard-worker, I admire you as a person, I am so happy I have you in my life, etc). I believe it is important to compliment people more on their character than on their appearances because I feel it will contribute to a better sense of self.
In my opinion, I think that it is really important to be patient and compassionate towards your loved ones while they are trying to find ways to manage their depression. It can be a very exhausting process. I can speak from personal experience when it comes to my own depression and also when it comes to family members as well. It may be difficult to learn how to manage your depression or to learn how to help someone with a mental health condition, but I promise it is not impossible to find ways to help and support yourself and your loved ones.
There is so much more I could have covered in this blog. I just wanted to cover the basics and provide a little support and understanding for those of you who may be having a hard time knowing how to help. The impact of depression on relationships is no joke. I think one major thing to ask yourself when it comes to helping a loved one with their depression is, “Am I able to provide them with what they need without it affecting my own character and mental health?” Sometimes it can be too much for us to take on ourselves, and that’s okay. In that case, we need to learn how to ‘pass the torch’ and/or seek support from others.
I hope this blog helped. I know this topic can be very broad but that’s why I just wanted to cover the basics. I want people to know that they are supported when it comes to helping someone with their depression and when it comes being someone who suffers from depression. It is important that we all know where we can turn in times of need. I am going to provide a link to Canadian telephone counselling hotlines that may help you with managing depression and other mental health conditions, or even if you just need someone to talk to.
I hope you guys have an awesome week. I’m hoping to get back on track with my blog within the next week or two. Thank you for your patience while I figure things out. Cheers xx