Top Tips for Coping with Depression in a Relationship

If you are in a relationship with someone who has depression, these are some tips you can use to help your partner.


Educate Yourself

Learn everything you need to know about depression and its causes, symptoms, and treatments to better support your loved one.


Sort Out the Facts from the Myths

While it may be very tempting to think of depression as laziness or weakness on the individual's part, it is a very real biologically based illness, and, just like any other illness, it can be treated.

In addition, suicide is a very real risk of depression so it's important to keep your loved one's environment safe (remove any alcohol, pills, or guns) and to take it seriously if your loved one is feeling suicidal.


Remember to Take Care of Yourself

It can be very stressful coping with another person's depression. It's okay to take some time out for yourself. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, you'll both be better off if you carve out time to safeguard your mind, body, and spirit, including the following:

  • Eating a quality diet
  • Exercising
  • Getting proper sleep
  • Practicing relaxation strategies
  • Spending time in nature
  • Praying and meditating
  • Staying socially connected
  • Participating in favorite hobbies and activities

Caring for yourself might also mean knowing when it's time to say goodbye. Certainly, this decision should be weighed carefully (and ideally discussed with a mental health professional), but you may need to walk away if your or your children's emotional or physical well-being or safety are at risk.


Get Support

When someone you care about is depressed, it's okay for you to feel frustrated, angry, and upset. You are in a very difficult situation. It is very important, however, that you don't allow these feelings to fester and grow.

Therapists, counselors, and support groups are not only for the individual with depression. Seeking professional help for yourself will help you feel supported, vent your frustrations, and make you more aware of your own emotional needs.

It can also provide answers to any questions you have about coping with the depression of a loved one. Even if you don’t go the mental health professional route, it’s important to lean on friends, family, or even your local pastor during this difficult time.


Be There for Them

One of the most important things you can do for someone who is depressed is simply to be there for them. Hold them close or just listen while they share their feelings. Offer to help them with making appointments or doing some of the daily chores that they are struggling to keep up with. Let them know that you are there for them in whatever way they need while they make their recovery.


Don't Take It Personally

Depression can make people behave in ways that they normally wouldn't when they are feeling well. They may become angry or withdrawn. They may not be interested in going out or doing things with you like they used to. Your spouse or significant other may lose interest in sex. These things are not personal and they don't mean that they no longer care about you. They are symptoms of the illness.


Help Out Around the House

Just like when a person has any other illness, they may simply not feel well enough to take care of paying the bills or cleaning the house. And, just like with any other illness, you may have to temporarily take over some of their daily chores until they feel well enough to do them again.


Treatment Is Important

Treatment is vitally important to a person's recovery from depression. You can help your loved one by helping them keep up with taking their medication and remembering appointments. You can also help them by reassuring them that asking for help is not a sign or weakness or something to be ashamed of.


Offer Hope

Offer them hope by reminding them of their reasons to keep living, whatever they may be. Perhaps it's their children, a beloved pet who needs them, or their faith in God? These reasons, which will be unique to the individual, can help them hold on a bit longer until the pain subsides.


Love Them Unconditionally

Let them know that you realize it is the illness making them think, feel, and behave this way and you love them no matter what.

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Article Sources

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  1. Dean J, Keshavan M. The neurobiology of depression: An integrated view. Asian J Psychiatr. 2017;27:101-111. doi:10.1016/j.ajp.2017.01.025

  2. Association AP. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub; 2013.