How to Help a Partner with Depression
If you have a partner who is struggling with a form of depression, every day can feel like a struggle. We review ways to help your partner who is struggling with depression while maintaining your own mental health.
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If you have a partner who is struggling with a form of depression, every day can feel like a struggle. While supporting a loved one with depression can be a delicate line to toe (especially if you don’t struggle with it yourself), so long as you approach the situation with patience, empathy, and love, your influence can be crucial in helping your partner find their way to a brighter day. If you suspect that your partner is dealing with depression, there are a few ways you can help your partner deal with their depression, brought to you by the experts at Brighter Day TMS.
How Do You Know That Your Partner Has Depression?
The first step in helping your partner with depression is recognizing the signs. Depression is more than just feeling sad; it’s a persistent and debilitating condition that affects one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Symptoms can vary and range in intensity depending on the person. While you should encourage your partner to receive a professional diagnosis, a few telltale signs of depression can include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies and/or physical intimacy
- Increased fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or oversleeping)
- Sudden changes in appetite or weight
- Unexplained physical symptoms such as aches or digestive problems
- Thoughts of death and/or suicide
Ways to Support a Loved One With Depression
Familiarize Yourself with Depression
While you are likely already very familiar with your partner’s form of depression, familiarizing yourself with the ins and outs of this complex mental disorder can be crucial in supporting a loved one with depression. Take time to research depression, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments. You may consider asking your partner’s doctor for reputable sources that provide the facts about depression, such as the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Ask Your Partner What They Need
Open and honest communication is key when helping your partner work through their depression. Often, the best way to ensure that you are properly supporting your partner is to simply ask them how they’re feeling and what they need from you. Avoid judgment or expectations and simply listen to them. Clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD, encourages partners to work as a team in overcoming depression. Borland advises that “it’s important to show unconditional support. Express things like, ‘I’m in this with you. You’re not going to scare me. I’m not going to allow you to push me away.’” For those whose partners are struggling to seek help for their depression, this approach can also stimulate thoughts about change and solutions that they may respond positively to.
Cultivate a Low-Stress Living Environment
A low-stress home environment can significantly impact your partner’s emotional well-being. This involves maintaining a clean and organized space, which can help reduce anxiety, tension, and conflict. Make an effort to clean up small messes such as piles of laundry or dirty dishes and establish a simple daily routine for you and your partner to stick to. Additionally, you can create an emotionally low-stress environment by ensuring that your home is a safe space where your partner can express their emotions without fear of judgment, allowing you both to feel more comfortable opening up to each other.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Depression has a direct impact on appetite and energy levels, often making it difficult for a person who struggles with depression to make healthy choices involving their sleep schedule, daily routines, and diet. As a partner, you can gently encourage healthier habits without being pushy. Make self-care a priority for both of you by suggesting daily walks, getting involved in planning and cooking healthy meals, creating a sleep schedule, or engaging in hobbies that both you and your partner can find joy in. Even the smallest change in your partner’s daily routine can go a long way in helping them fight their depression.
Give Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool to boost your partner’s self-esteem and motivation in the midst of hopelessness. Take time to point out strengths, efforts, and accomplishments, no matter how small. Just be sure to strike a balance between healthy positivity and toxic positivity. Your goal should be to create an environment where your partner doesn’t feel pressured to fake their happiness, as this could cause them to conceal their low moments from you in the future.
Know the Warning Signs of Suicide
The risk of suicide is unfortunately elevated for individuals suffering from major depressive disorder. While it’s essential to remain positive and supportive, it’s equally vital to be aware of the red flags of self-harm and suicide to know when to seek out immediate help or contact a crisis hotline. Some signs to watch for include:
- Expressing consistent thoughts of extreme sadness or hopelessness
- Drastic/sudden changes in mood or engaging in self-destructive behavior
- Withdrawal from loved ones
- Giving away belongings
- Preoccupation with thoughts of death
Prioritize Your Own Mental Health
Supporting a loved one with depression can be an emotionally taxing endeavor. In order to properly support your loved one through their depression, it is imperative that you support your own mental health. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if needed to keep yourself in a healthy mental state. Remember: you cannot effectively help your partner if you’re not taking care of yourself!
Encourage Your Partner to Seek Treatment
Helping a partner with depression can be challenging. But you don’t have to accept a life controlled by major depressive disorder. Encourage your partner to seek professional help and find a treatment that will help them effectively manage their depression.
Newer treatments, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (also known as TMS) can be an effective solution, particularly for patients whose medication has failed to provide relief from depression symptoms. TMS directly addresses root causes of depression in the brain to provide effective, long-lasting relief from depression.
At Brighter Day TMS, we are proud to offer this non-invasive, FDA-approved treatment option as a significant step toward a brighter future. With a 90% success rate of patients who experience significant improvement in their depression symptoms, TMS may be an effective solution for your loved one to experience long-lasting results.
Ready to learn more? Call us at (970) 430-5458 to see if TMS is an appropriate depression treatment option for you, a partner, or loved one.