If you are in a relationship with someone who is depressed, you may not be sure what to do. This is particularly true if you have never suffered from depression yourself. It might seem like there is no reason for your partner to be depressed, but their worldview is completely different. They are unable to see the good in themselves, no matter how successful and stable they may be. Dealing with depression can also take a toll on your relationship, but there are ways to help your partner cope and keep your relationship intact. Here is how to be in a relationship with someone who has depression.

Research Depression

It’s very important to understand that your partner’s depression has nothing to do with you. Depression is not a sign of a troubled relationship or somehow the fault of another person. It is a disease that should be treated like any other medical problem. If you have never experienced depression, do some research to help you better understand what can cause depression, how it feels, and ways to deal with it. This will help you better understand your partner and how to help them.

Practice Empathy  

A person who is depressed is unable to deal with everyday life. They may have trouble going to work, keeping plans, or even getting out of bed. It can be easy to get frustrated by this behavior. Do your best to be empathic and listen to them when they talk. Remember, that depression can come out of nowhere, has nothing to do with you, and is not enjoyable for your partner. They would love to not be depressed!  So, be kind to your partner and practice patience.

Have Patience 

It’s incredibly important to be patient with a partner who is depressed. They can’t simply “snap out of it,” no matter how much they wish they could. Depression feels overwhelming and coming out of it can be a long process. If you find yourself getting frustrated with them, take some time away from them. It’s not their fault they are depressed and you don’t want to blame them when your patience runs out. It will help you to have your own support system to deal with their depression.

Expect Changes to Your Sex Life

If your partner is depressed, they may not be interested in sex. However, if they choose to take antidepressants as a part of their treatment, they may still not be interested in sex! A common side effect of many antidepressants is a lower sex drive. This can be a difficult to talk about and may make you both feel uncomfortable. Be open with your partner about your feelings and remember that their lack of interest in sex has nothing to do with their attraction to you.

Seek Therapy 

If you find yourself wondering how to help your partner with depression or unsure how to deal with your feelings about their depression, try therapy. Hopefully your partner is going to therapy as part of the treatment for their depression, but you may benefit from some therapy too! You can talk to your therapist about your frustrations with your partner and your struggle to support them. Therapy is a safe place to vent and your therapist can help you come up with a plan to better support your partner and yourself.

Practice Self Care

You may feel like you have to do all of the emotional labor in the relationship while your partner is depressed. Be sure to take time for yourself so that you feel loved and appreciated. Make sure you are still being social, going to the gym, and pursuing your own hobbies. Your partner’s depression should not make you depressed! You cannot fix them and if you become down, then that will only make the situation worse. Don’t feel guilty when you go out and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

Depression is a difficult disease that can take its toll on the healthiest of relationships. When your partner struggles, do your best to be empathic and patient as they recover. Take care of yourself and have a support system in place for yourself. Depression can be overcome, so do not despair that your partner will be depressed forever. The most important thing is to emphasize your love for your partner. Often, those with depression do not feel worthy of love, so they may not feel loved no matter how much you do for them. However, hearing it often will help them combat their negative thoughts.

One more note: If you are worried that your partner is suicidal, keep the number to a suicide helpline with you at all times. Make sure your partner knows about the number and that you are there for them, no matter what. If they are close to their family, let them know so they can help you take care of your partner. There is no shame in asking for help!