Take Part in Their Healing Dating someone with depression can be an intimidating prospect, but by understanding a few basics you can set the stage for a strong and loving relationship.
Starting a relationship can be an exhilarating time; everything is new and exciting and there is so much to discover. Depression is Complicated and Real Everyone feels sad from time to time, but depression is different than normal mood fluctuations. Educate yourself about the illness; there are endless online resources where you can read about depression from both medical and personal standpoints to help you gain a deeper understanding of what the illness looks and feels like.
Instead, ask them about their experience and respect their boundaries. Stay flexible and consider activities that are within their comfort zone. Instead of going out to dinner, have a nice meal at home. Instead of going to that party, stay in and watch movies. Sometimes they may simply not be up for socializing at all and need some alone time; try to be respectful of their needs without taking it personally.
Depression is a complex illness that affects mood in myriad ways. Recognizing their illness for what it is is essential to being an ally. Discounting their feelings by automatically attributing them to depression only serves to hinder honest conversation and emotional connection. Begin Your Recovery Journey. It is heartbreaking to see someone you care about in pain, and your natural reaction is probably to try to make it all okay.
But depression is not cured by love or kindness. The truth is that there are no quick fixes for depression. However, there are many things you can do to support someone struggling with depression. Figuring out what those things are requires open communication. Ask them what they need from you to make them feel supported. Ask them what their triggers are, what they do to cope, and what part they want you to play in their coping strategies.
What helps them may be very different than what helps someone else and honoring their individual needs is important, even when what they need is to not have you do anything at all. I feel sad because XYZ happened. Being open and understanding about these issues is vital to nurturing your relationship. After all, your bad day at work seems like nothing compared to mental illness. You cannot turn it off because your partner is depressed, nor should you have to. Find a healthy way to get the stress out.
Recognize the hard work your partner is doing and be their biggest cheerleader as they seek the help they need to heal. Tell them you are proud of them for going to treatment and respect their limits when it comes to talking about what they are doing in therapy.
Some people will be very open about what they are learning and discovering, while others prefer to keep it private. Whether or not you feel comfortable bringing this up will, of course, largely depend on your level of intimacy; telling someone to seek residential treatment on the second date, for example, may not elicit the best reaction. But if you have built a strong foundation of trust, respect, and care, suggesting they take their treatment to a higher level of intensity could be the best gift you could give them.
With the help of compassionate clinicians, you can develop strategies for supporting your partner in meaningful ways that will aid them on their recovery journey while also establishing healthy boundaries. Dating someone with depression can be difficult, confusing, and painful at times. But you already know there is much more to them than their illness, and getting through the hard parts together can give you a deeper appreciation for each other.
Bridges to Recovery offers comprehensive residential treatment for people struggling with mental health disorders as well as co-occurring substance abuse and eating disorders.