Here’s How You Can Help Your Partner or Friend Through Depression
You may be an expert on knowing when to swipe right, say those three magical words, and when to pop the question but, when it comes to mental health, very few people know how to help their partner deal with their trauma.
Healthline estimates that 16.2 million adults in America suffer from depression, significantly increasing the chance of anyone playing a nurturing partner’s role. However, this can be quite tricky, and you must tread carefully. It is estimated that every one in five people with a depressed partner develops the disease as well.
Here’s how you can help your partner with depression without getting sucked in yourself, with tips from a consultant psychiatrist at The Nightingale Hospital, Dr. Chi-Chi Obuaya.
1. Be a partner, not a parent
People suffering from mental illnesses are not easy to care for. While it’s important to provide support, it’s also important to keep your partner accountable for recovery. You must maintain a good balance, says Dr. Obuaya.
For example, you may need to supervise your medication at first but will need to ease up when their condition improves and can take more responsibility. A side effect of some antidepressants, and the disease itself sometimes, is the lack of intimacy. Regardless, try being affectionate with your partner. You have no idea how much the love of a partner helps during depressive phases.
2. Do your research
If your partner lacks enthusiasm, shows minimal interest, and seemingly doesn’t bother about anything you say, questioning your relationship or even blame yourself is an automatic reaction. But depression is an illness like no other, not a reflection of you. The key to knowing how to help a depressed partner is to comprehend fully what you’re dealing with, so you have to study up.
While many people recognize low mood to be depression, they don’t understand that an inability to enjoy previously enjoyable activities and very low energy are also core symptoms, explains Dr. Obuaya, as well as alterations in appetite, concentration, sleep arrangements, and libido. It can help talk to other people in a similar situation, and first aid training for mental health can help with your understanding.
3. Communication is key
If someone is struggling to find happiness in their life due to overwhelming depressive thoughts, strong communication can help. We can all find it difficult to communicate our needs, comments Dr. Obuaya. However, some of the frustration and disappointment that can come from misunderstanding can be avoided by learning some basic skills. This is what you can do to help your depressed partner: polish up your active listening skills.
This includes body language, showing genuine interest, and reducing external distractions. When your partner tells you something, summarize it, with the use of explanatory phrases such as, “Is this is exactly what you mean?”
Depression is a disease unlike any other and can be exceedingly difficult to deal with. That does not mean it is impossible to deal with, though. If you truly care about your partner and want to help them through the tough times, buckle up because it is going to be a long ride. But, with proper dedication and knowledge, you’ll emerge at the other side successfully.
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