Relationships involve a major commitment. That is why, in case our partner is affected by any circumstance, it is natural to provide him/her with the necessary support to overcome the situation he/she is going through.

This is something that many people are clear about when they face a certain thought that comes to their mind: “my partner has depression, what can I do to help her?” .

In this article we will look at some useful tools to offer support when a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife has depression, we will briefly review what this mental disorder is and distinguish depression from feature depression.

What are the depressive symptoms?

Depression can be defined as a mental disorder consisting of intense and prevalent states of sadness and discouragement (abulia) . If a person has depression, it is most likely that his or her partner (in case he or she has it) will notice in his or her daily attitude that something strange is happening.

It is important to establish whether this is a depressive state, which would be something temporary; or if on the contrary we are in the presence of a depressive trait, which indicates that the behavior associated with depression is more prevalent over time. In any case, this kind of evaluation can only be done by a mental health professional .

My partner has depression: what do I do?

When it happens that my partner has depression, the situation is complex, and one should proceed as soon as possible and in the best way. The main thing is to determine whether it is a specific depressive state or if the behaviour is persistent, then let’s see how we should proceed.

1. Do not underestimate the importance of the issue, understand that it is a disease

We must avoid underestimating the emotional moment our couple is going through. The thoughts and feelings that afflict her are not out of whim and should not be seen as personal attacks on others, however much their consequences may harm others. These symptoms can be due to both organic and social causes.

2. Keep in mind that even if it doesn’t seem like it, your partner needs you

The symptoms of depression can make it seem as if we are indifferent to our partner, but this is not true. We must understand that her behaviour responds to the symptoms , we must not distance ourselves from her, especially when she feels vulnerable.

3. Offers active listening

In most cases, just being there for that person is very supportive. Our partner needs to vent his emotions with total freedom , we must make him feel comfortable telling us what is wrong with him.

4. Do not put pressure

We must be careful with the words we use when our partner presents a depressive picture, there are phrases that can be counterproductive. It is best to propose clear activities, avoiding phrases such as “be calm” or “that has to go” which can sound like a demand and a call to do nothing to feel better .

5. Putting yourself in the other’s place

This is about providing as much empathy as possible, keeping in mind that things that are simple for you can be complicated for your partner. For example, shopping or preparing a meal at home is often challenging for someone with depression because of a lack of motivation and energy.

6. Don’t blame yourself for what you suffer

As we mentioned earlier, it’s not your partner’s fault that he’s depressed, and it’s not your fault either. Don’t think that her behaviour is due to personal reasons related to you or for which you are responsible. Depression is beyond the control of those who experience it directly and their close circle.

7. Avoid creating false expectations

We must bear in mind that the solution will not come overnight . It is a personal and gradual process, in which our partner must realize and face the situation at his own pace. We should not rush to find easy or quick solutions, as this will only cause more frustration.

8. Stay close

Let your partner see that you care about her, show her that in spite of her situation she can count on you and that you are there to support her, without becoming invasive or demanding. Simply support her through your understanding and companionship.

9. Relieves emotional tension

It tries to serve as a means for him or her to drain the pressure and stress that depression and family, academic or work situations can cause in more intense depressive episodes. Try to lighten that burden on your partner.

10. Avoid reproaches

Don’t reproach him for not wanting to get out of bed, or for his lack of appetite. Remember that he is a victim of a symptomatology that concerns the functioning of his nervous system. Encourage change from assertiveness and not from complaining, which is counterproductive in these cases.

11. Encourage her to seek help

Without it being a demand or an imposition, we can make our loved one interested in seeking professional help . Explaining the benefits and telling her that therapy can help her get better are good ways of doing this.

12. Congratulate him on his progress

On the occasions when your partner makes efforts to overcome depression and achieve his goals, however small they may seem to someone who is not going through that, you should congratulate him and show him that we also recognize that milestone .

13. Accompany her to therapy

Attending therapy with our partner has an important meaning in terms of the support component we provide. We can be part of our partner support team (as a new patient taking her first steps in therapy), which includes the family members, the therapist and, if necessary, the psychiatrist.

Of course, psychological therapy should be an essential factor in the recovery process for people with depression. It’s not an ancillary aid, but one of the main pillars of mood enhancement and support that contributes significantly to the cessation of even the most severe symptoms (such as suicidal ideation).

Therefore, someone who wants to help his or her partner with depression must act on two fronts: accompany that loved one at that moment in his or her life, and help him or her commit to therapy and apply the indications of the mental health professionals who monitor the treatment.

Final recommendation

Finally, it is important to emphasize that the situation our partner is going through with depression does not have to be permanent . Just as the crisis came, it can go away, although there are usually certain consequences (at least as far as emotional memory is concerned).

Many times, when a person does not know what to do in a situation, that is when depression occurs. It is not enough to help them solve this situation, it is necessary to provide them with the tools so that they have the capacity to solve by themselves the situations that cause the negative feelings . This is what is worked on during therapy. But, at the same time, you should not leave that person alone, because in that state he will not be able to overcome it and see a hopeful way out.

Bibliographic references:

  • Davey, C. G.; Yücel, M; Allen, N. B. (2008). The emergence of depression in adolescence: Development of the prefrontal cortex and the representation of reward. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 32.
  • Mann, J. J., Waternaux, C., Haas, G. L. et al. (1999). Towards a clinical model of suicidal behavior in psychiatric patients. Am J Psychiatry, 156:181-189.
  • Saravane, D; Feve, B; Frances, Y; Corruble, E; Lancon, C; Chanson, P; Maison, P; Terra, JL; et al. Drawing up guidelines for the attendance of physical health of patients with severe mental illness. L’Encéphale. 35 (4): 330–9.(1): 1–19.