Helping Your Lover Fight Depression – H&S Love Affair
Does your partner suffer from depression? Are you finding ways to help support your partner who is struggling with depression? Are you struggling to find the right words and actions to comfort your depressed partner? Remember, it’s okay to feel helpless, worried, afraid or even anxious watching your partner struggle with depression & whilst you may feel you can’t do much, there’s a lot you can do to help your partner. Depression is a common mental health problem that also takes its toll on the ones close to the person suffering from this illness; i.e. it has a negative impact on a relationship whilst leaving the loved ones feeling helpless. All in all, it may appear difficult to help your partner who suffers from depression & even though you may not be able to cure the depression, your support, as well as patience, is extremely important.
1. Know Depression & Its Signs- Depression is a mental health problem that lowers a person’s mood and involves a loss of interest in daily activities. It is important to note however that it isn’t a constant low that one may experience and this is what makes the illness a little more difficult to understand. What loved ones should look out for include feelings of sadness or hopelessness, changes in eating habits whereby one gains or loses weight, changes in sleep pattern whereby one sleeps too much or too little, general loss of interest in daily activities, feeling tired very easily, anxious or irritable, anger outbursts, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty concentrating or thinking, having thoughts of suicide or death, unexplained physical symptoms such as pain. Only once you understand this illness properly will you be able to help your partner. Remember, the symptoms of depression are not static and can vary, changing over time. If you want to understand this better it’s also good to have an open conversation with your partner whilst being a good listener.
2. Be Present & An Empathic Listener- This is the best way to help your partner who suffers from depression. All they need to know is that you are available and you care. You don’t have to have all the answers but you can definitely be present, sit and listen holding their hands or by giving hugs and words of encouragement like ‘it will all be okay, I am here for you always’, ‘let’s get through this together, I love you’ etc.
3. If There Is A Need For Treatment, Encourage It & Help Your Partner Stick To It- If the symptoms are severe suggesting treatment may be required, and this can only be determined by a psychiatrist make sure you encourage the treatment plan and be there with them during their visits to the doctor. Treatment may just include medication or even psychotherapy, it all depends on the severity. Once your partner has been advised the correct treatment be there with him/her as they take on this journey to recovery. Make a schedule for your partner keeping a reminder on your calendar too, so that you can make sure they stick to their treatment plan.
4. Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle- You can take up an activity as a couple such as Yoga which is generally healthy for both the mind and the body, but even an activity such as running in the park can have a positive impact on not just the body but also the mind. Encourage cooking and eating healthy meals that will boost the immunity as well as keep you healthy and focus on eating the good mood-foods i.e. foods that help fight depression such as walnuts, fatty fish etc. Encourage a healthy sleeping habit as this too is extremely important to help keep depression at bay.
5. Break Down Big Tasks To Small Tasks- Sometimes getting them to join an activity may not be easy especially if getting out the bed is tedious for your partner. In this case, break down the daily tasks like focus on getting out of bed, having a shower and eating a healthy breakfast. You may have to slowly introduce the daily routine back and only with time, you may be able to get them to take up an activity with you.
6. Keep An Eye Out For Suicidal Symptoms- Beware of the red flags & know when to seek medical assistance. If he/she is talking about suicide, purchasing things to attempt suicide, having extreme mood swings, shows social withdrawal, is thinking about death, engaging in risky behaviours, showing personality changes then you need to be wary.
7. Keep The Stress At Bay & Don’t Give Up- Remember it’s important to be patient and even though you may at times feel like giving up as you can’t handle or see your loved one depressed it’s important to keep yourself calm and composed. A no-stress or even a low-stress environment must be encouraged at all times and this can only be encouraged if you are strong and practice this. Remember it’s not your partner’s fault nor is it yours and stress has a negative effect on you and your partner’s health.
8. Be Encouraging At All Times & Make Plans Together- Your partner might have harsh judgements about themself, at this point it is up to you to make sure he/she knows their worth, be encouraging and positive. Also, to tackle depression, make sure you make weekly plans together of either going for a romantic drive together or maybe play a game at home or watch a favourite movie together. It’s important to take baby steps if your partner isn’t comfortable with socialising as he/she may have social withdrawal. You need to start small to help them getting back to socializing.
9. If Need Be, Don’t Hesitate To Be Part Of A Support Network- Sometimes caring for your partner may be taxing, in this case, it’s advisable to be a part of a support network for encouragement and self-care. Only if you are fit emotionally & mentally, will you be able to care for your loved one.