10 Helpful Tips for Dating Someone with Depression

Tips For Dating Someone With Depression
Tips for Dating Someone with Depression

According to the WHO (World Health Organization) almost 280 million people in the world are struggling with depression. Many remain undiagnosed, and those who do not always get the help they need to fight this common illness. In such a scenario, if you’re dating someone with depression, you could be faced with either helping them or leaving them alone. It is a difficult choice, but if compassion is one of your virtues, then here are some helpful tips on dating someone with depression.

What You Need to Know About Depression

Dating someone with depression can be challenging for both partners. What can make things easier for you is to understand depression and realize when it’s time for your partner to seek professional help. The American Psychiatric Association defines depression as a severe mental illness where the afflicted individual can appear sad, lethargic, unwell, moody, irritable, and withdrawn. Sometimes, they might even seem normal and completely fine externally, which isn’t very clear.

Look for these signs and symptoms:

  • A loss of interest in doing things you both enjoyed together
  • Lack of interest in life, hobbies, and even self-care
  • Apathy and laziness
  • Feelings of guilt and sadness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Poor focus, slow thinking, speech, and actions
  • Wanting to sit still most of the time
  • Feeling apathy or experiencing a loss of interest in hobbies and pleasurable activities
  • Feeling sad or guilty and crying
  • Mood changes and irritability
  • Poor libido
  • Substance abuse
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Isolation

These are the signs of depression, but there is so much more to know about the condition. What you need to realize is that the above symptoms aren’t always manifested openly in depression. They could remain a hidden part of the afflicted partner’s nature, in which case you might not even suspect a thing. Some people tend to mask their depression with false displays of happiness called “smiling depression.” Such people use this mask to help them work, participate in relationships, and live a social life without revealing the severity of their depression.

Tips for Dating Someone With Depression

Dating someone with depression is indeed a difficult situation, but if the person truly means something to you, then they need your love and understanding. Depression is not the fault of an individual because it could be due to a wrong rewiring of the brain. It could be psychological or biological, but until that is diagnosed, what you can do is provide as much support as possible through the following tips to manage depression.

Avoid Trying To “Fix” Them

Do not try to fix someone with depression. It requires professional help because every individual’s situation is unique. Generalized advice might irritate a partner who could feel you have no clue about their experience. They might even feel they are a burden or inconvenience and withdraw from the relationship.

Several depressed people have found out how generalized techniques and standard tips do not really help their situation, so just stop. Instead, be a silent pillar of support, be present and utilize the language of love, care, compassion, and emotional validation. Sometimes, all a depressed partner would want is your presence as a source of empathy and solidarity as they struggle to maintain themselves.

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue, and it’s especially vital when dating someone with depression. Understand that your partner may have good days and bad days. Be patient during the challenging moments, and celebrate the victories, no matter how small. Knowing that you are steadfast in your support can make a world of difference to someone grappling with depression.

Be Prepared for Unpredictability

Remember, depression can be unpredictable, and that can be hard for you to understand since you aren’t experiencing the symptoms. Depression is marked by highs and lows due to drastic mood changes. This might make it hard for you to anticipate your partner’s behavior and make plans. It would help if you accepted such situations with flexibility and patience. After all, your partner is going through turmoil. They cannot fully understand, which is why they need that support.

It’s Not About You

Moreover, there could be times when your partner is entirely interactive and then, without warning, emotionally shuts down by not even speaking to you. You’ve got to understand that it isn’t about you. Instead, it’s about how they try to deal with their situation. It would help if you adopted an open and flexible mindset, giving them their space and your understanding. Sooner or later, they will come around and interact with you again as if nothing happened. Such experiences should clarify why you have no reason to doubt your partner’s interest in you. What they need is your complete support, which builds more trust in you.

Respect Their Boundaries

Depression can make even the simplest tasks feel overwhelming. Understand and respect your partner’s need for space and respect their boundaries. While it’s crucial to offer support, avoid pushing them to share more than they are comfortable with. Allow them the freedom to navigate their emotions at their own pace.

Be Empathetic

“It’s no big deal,” “cmon perk up, you’ll be fine,” “Things could be worse.” These are statements that are only going to make things worse for a depressed person. There is such a thing as pseudo or toxic positivity, and nothing is more undermining than minimizing the importance of what your partner is going through. Saying things like, ‘You should get some fresh air’ likely won’t help. Such statements lack empathy; though you might mean well, your words have the opposite effect. A depressed person wants you to understand what they are going through, and the only way to do that is to get them to do the talking while you patiently listen. Even if they do not feel like opening up to you, your statements should exhibit an attitude of empathy, such as ‘I’m so glad you told me you were feeling down’ or ‘Thank you for sharing. ‘That must be hard; I’m here for you.’

Celebrate the Good Moments

Amid the challenges posed by depression, celebrating the joyous moments is essential. Whether it’s a day without overwhelming sadness or a small achievement, acknowledging and celebrating these victories can reinforce a positive outlook and build resilience.

Don’t Shame or Blame

Sometimes, the non-cooperative attitude of the depressed person could make a partner angry or irritable. There might be a tendency to blame the person for not trying. This is dangerous; you risk losing the person or breaking the relationship. Blaming a person’s depression as the reason behind their decisions is as good as shaming them. Instead, you need to encourage and empower them to navigate their episodes of depression rather than label the choices they make

Practice Self-Care

Caring for someone with depression can be emotionally demanding, and it’s crucial not to neglect your well-being. Managing a person’s depression can take a mental toll on your health, which is why you need to ensure you are in an excellent mental and emotional state to support your partner effectively. Use the episodes of emotional shutdown to cater to your self-care by engaging in activities that help de-stress you and make you happy. Your mental happiness strengthens you to help the person you are involved with, which is why your support system is equally important.

Seek Professional Guidance

If the challenges of dating someone with depression become overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. A psychotherapist can offer insights, guidance, and advice for both of you to help you navigate this difficult time together. You could also motivate your partner to seek psychiatric help to understand the cause of the depression. The appropriate line of treatment with medication, if necessary, is critical to treating depression. Couples therapy can be particularly beneficial in fostering understanding and communication.

Dating someone with depression is indeed a difficult decision for anybody, but with the right attitude and approach, nothing is impossible. What is required is an understanding and empathy towards a person going through something which they don’t want for themselves. Helping them as a crutch of support could help them overcome their difficult situation, which will serve as a foundation for a more fruitful relationship

Andrew Alpin

Andrew Kevin Alpin is a creative content specialist from Kolkata with several years of experience in content creation focusing on health and wellness. He possesses good insight on psychology and human behavior, including all all aspects of health. Andrew currently works as a Freelance Educational Content Director and Creative head at Enso Integrated Medicine, Bengaluru.