If your partner is depressed, your relationship suffers, and may even cause you to feel a bit depressed yourself. If you have trouble determining whether your partner is depressed, take heart. You\’re not alone. The word ‘depression\’ has been used to describe everything from being in a bad mood to having a depressive illness. A bad mood will pass, but a depressive illness is not something you can pull yourself out of at will.

Is your partner

-       withdrawn,

-       lacking energy,

-       losing interest in normal activities liking eating or having sex,

-       unable to find pleasure in activities that used to delight,

-       finding sleep patterns disrupted,

-       feeling tense, restless, irritable, anxious,

-       losing self-confidence and feeling inadequate,

-       feeling hopeless—that life will never get better?

Do you feel

-       unwanted or unloved,

-       in your partner\’s way,

-       that your partner is hostile toward you,

-       and s/he may even want out of the relationship?

It\’s hard on you when you are not the depressed partner because the person you thought you knew so well is behaving uncharacteristically. Your partner is not the person s/he once was. But take heart. There are things you can do to help your partner in addition to the most important thing—get professional help.

How you can help yourself and your partner:

-       don\’t tell your partner to ‘pull themselves together\’ or ‘snap out of it.\’ This is an illness and not a behavior your partner chooses.

-       Remember that your partner\’s lack of interest in sex is not personal. It\’s not about you—it\’s about how the illness affects your partner\’s body.

-       Be patient and continue to offer love and support even though your partner may not seem to appreciate it. Recovery may take awhile.

-       Encourage your partner to go with you to take a walk, exercise or some activity you both like. Exercise usually helps depressed people feel better because it releases endorphins that can elevate your partner\’s mood. And yours too!

-       Try to point out moments of delight—like the cardinals at the feeder, your dog\’s wagging tail, the morning glories\’ blossoms. You may get a lackluster response, but it\’s nice for you to be conscious of these things too.

-       Play some peaceful, joyful music you know your partner likes.

If your partner talks about suicide, get help immediately. It will not make them more likely to commit suicide if you talk to them about it. And it may even help if you approach the topic in a loving, caring way.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.