There have been significant strides recently in discussing mental health more openly and eliminating the taboo around this subject. This is great to see! However, we still have a long way to go.
This Depression Awareness Month, we wanted to provide some advice and open up the conversation around dating someone affected by depression.
Let’s start off at the beginning - what is depression?
Mental health charity Mind describes depression as the following:
‘Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make you feel suicidal.'
Symptoms of depression
There are various psychological and physical symptoms associated with depression.
This may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling irritable
- Feeling persistently low in mood
- Lack of energy
- Loss of sex drive
- Disturbed sleep
Treatments for depression
There are many treatments available for depression. Some of these treatments may include:
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and other talking therapies
- Mental health apps
- Exercise and other lifestyle changes
The treatments offered will vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. It’s important to discuss this with a GP so they can make sure the right amount of help and support is being given.
I’m dating someone with depression – how can I support them?
Don’t try to fix them
Depression is different to occasional sadness or feeling a bit glum. It can feel like being stuck in a thick fog and unable to find a way out. As much as offering your partner tips, advice and trying to cheer them up may be meant with the best of intentions, it can sometimes make the situation harder and give your partner feelings of guilt that they can’t feel better.
Try to talk openly
If the person you’re dating feels comfortable to do so, try to discuss things openly and without passing judgement. It may not feel like you’re helping much, but sometimes being in the present and listening to someone express their feelings can be just the right support that’s needed.
Understand that your love life may be affected
Depression can affect sex drive, so it may be possible that your partner simply isn’t in the mood. However, there are plenty of other ways you can be intimate that don’t involve sex. For example, cuddling on the sofa, holding hands during a stroll or giving them a gentle kiss on the cheek.
Remember to look after yourself too
As much as you care for your partner, dating someone with depression can feel draining and it’s important you take time to look after yourself as well. If you feel you could do with some extra support, why not give the Mind helpline a call on 0300 123 3393? If you’d prefer to text, you can contact them on 86463.