My partner has depression- how best to help?


Depression is by far the most common mental illness. In order to cope with the depression, the involvement of the environment, especially the partner and family, is essential. What exactly the caregivers can and should do, however, is mostly unclear to them, as there is a lack of understanding of the disease and of the patient's needs.

As a partner, what can I do to help?

First and foremost is an understanding of the disease. Because depression is actually an illness, not just a mood problem.It is therefore important to interpret and accept the partner's symptoms as such, even if they appear nonsensical from your own point of view. Depressed patients cannot simply “pull themselves together” or use logical reasoning to recognize the absurdity of their symptoms. Therefore, one should talk about the feelings and burdens, not make an assessment and give the partner the opportunity to share the bad thoughts and thus to be able to alleviate them.

Losing weight in everyday activities can also help, as depression often lacks the drive for even the smallest of tasks. The partner can also try to distract the person concerned with joint activities and hobbies and thus break his depressive thought patterns. What helps in detail depends very much on the patient. The partner should therefore ideally be advised by the doctor or therapist and included in the treatment.

Read more on the subject at: Suicide and depression

Should I leave my partner alone or try to actively support them?

That depends a lot on what the person concerned tolerates in the situation. In general, one should avoid sinking into the depressive thought spiral and aim for an active interruption of the thought pattern through distraction and joint activities. However, if this is only an additional burden due to the patient's momentary lack of drive and joyless, the urge to be active can worsen the symptoms in this situation. If the patient therefore accepts active support, this is certainly beneficial. If he rejects it, you must not try to persuade him to do anything. In such situations, it only helps to address the current thoughts and worries if the person concerned wants to share them. The most important principle in general is to take depression seriously. The extent of the upset is often incomprehensible, but the underlying worries and problems are understandable. You can therefore approach the person concerned with understanding and not leave them alone in the situation. Whether this is achieved through joint actions or through rest depends on the patient.

What is the best way to behave when my partner is aggressive?

Here, too, understanding is the be-all and end-all. Those who carry such a vice on their shoulders, as depressed patients do, are understandably more irritated and react with aggression, especially if they do not understand their situation. Of course, these are not justified for the partner. Rather than being upset and irritable about it, the partner needs to understand that the mood is just a symptom of depression. The aggressions are therefore to be seen as an expression of the illness, not as a personal attack. This does not mean that the partner has to accept all whims and insults. There are many strategies to defuse such a situation. The partner could ask about the current worries and thus talk about the cause of the upset. If the person concerned is aware of his aggression and actually knows that it is exaggerated, one can try to speak to him directly about it and ask what the real problem is. With patients who are too charged, sometimes the only thing that helps is to leave them completely alone for a while. It is only important not to take aggression personally and to pay attention to any potential danger. If the person concerned seems to want to harm himself or someone else in his aggression, the emergency service should be notified immediately.

Read more about the topic here Aggression in depression.

What is the best way to behave if my ex-partner becomes depressed after the breakup?

That is a very difficult question. Separation is rarely consensual and in most cases one is left injured. A depressive mood over a certain period of time is completely normal in this situation and disappears by itself in healthy people, so there is no immediate need for action. However, if the ex-partner is psychologically stressed and loses his most important caregiver due to the separation, a solid depression is quite possible. As already described, this is a real disease that needs to be treated professionally. The former partner is often the first point of contact for a variety of reasons, e.g. to undo the separation, to cause the other a guilty conscience or to be able to somehow re-bond to the other, but in such a situation only a psychologist and / or psychiatrist can help. The only sensible thing you can do in such a situation is to refer your ex-partner to professional help despite pity and feelings of guilt.

What do I do if my partner withdraws in the depression?

Depression gives those affected the feeling of being overwhelmed by worries and problems and that there is nothing they can do about it. This results in a lack of motivation and drive and often a social withdrawal. If the person allows it, a distraction and breaking through the brooding makes sense. One should therefore try to talk to the partner, suggest activities or simply be there for him in some other way, even if he is not actively seeking contact on his own. But here, too, the person and their symptoms must be taken seriously. Without understanding one will not be able to motivate the person concerned. So if the person does not feel at ease in company, one cannot and should not force them to do so. If this seclusion continues, only therapy can help. Otherwise, the person concerned becomes more and more entangled in his negative spiral of thoughts and is very difficult to get rid of his depression. So if the partner is not motivated and is increasingly isolating himself, you can find contact points at psychologists / psychiatrists or even on the Internet who offer help.

That might be helpful to you too: How can you overcome depression?

What do I do if I want to leave my depressed partner?

Depression not only affects those affected, but also those around them. If the approaches already mentioned do not work or if the person does not want to be helped, it can be very frustrating. Such a relationship makes both partners unhappy. It is therefore every person's right to part with their depressed partner before they themselves suffer from it. Not infrequently, feelings of guilt prevent the person from drawing the line. The fear that the partner could become even more depressed and possibly harm themselves is also constantly in the back of the mind. Therefore, one should seek help in this situation, as psychologists and psychiatrists are there not only for the patient, but also for their relatives. If the patient is in treatment, the treating therapist is the most suitable option, or one turns to one of the many depression hotlines or a regional contact point. There you can get advice on the necessary fingertip feeling for the conversation and can arrange that the partner is not alone immediately after the separation.

What do I do with the desire for sexuality?

Loss of libido is a symptom of depression and can also be a side effect of antidepressant medication. Sex life usually has little priority for the person affected in a depressive episode. Of course, the relationship with the partner suffers as a result. The situation becomes particularly problematic if the person concerned feels guilty about it. Then intimacy with the partner becomes another burden that the person cannot cope with in their depression. Therefore you shouldn't put your depressed partner under pressure, no matter how great your desire for sexuality is. A lack of sex life usually leads to the failure of the relationship under other circumstances, but one should consider that here it is not the lack of sexuality, but the depression that threatens the relationship. Therefore, instead of trying to stimulate sex life, it makes more sense to fight depression as such. There is no other option than to put your desire for sexuality in the background and to support your partner in his therapy.

How do I deal with it when my depressed partner can no longer show me feelings?

Nobody wants a one-way relationship with no confirmation coming back. You can say the same to a person with depression. It is important not to formulate this as a reproach, but to show understanding for the symptoms of the other and to speak openly about the emotions of both parties. If the partner is in such a deep depression that he cannot understand his partner at all, only professional therapy is promising in this respect.

How do I deal with the desire for distance?

Some patients do not withdraw from their partner, but overwhelm them as their only caregiver with their fears and worries. But you can and should talk about this with your partner. Therapists and self-help groups are there to take care of those affected. Looking for help at one of these contact points relieves both partners.

How do I deal with allegations?

Relatives of a depressed person often hear accusations of not being taken seriously or understood, even if you try to help your partner. As with the aggression described above, the following applies: keep calm, do not take it personally and talk about the underlying worries and feelings. The person concerned usually knows when his allegations are unfounded. Otherwise, this problem should also be addressed in therapy.

How do I deal with the allegation of lack of understanding of depression?

In a way, the depressed partner is right: Anyone who has never been through depression may not know this feeling of powerlessness in the face of the rushing stress. Nevertheless, you can do your best to understand the other person's emotional state. If he feels he is not understood, he has to explain his situation again. The most important thing is not to fully understand your partner, but to let them see that you are there for them and that they are not alone.