With the notion that you must love yourself first in order to love others, is it possible to have a relationship with someone who is depressed? It’s tricky territory, for sure.
I was in a three-year relationship that ended with heartache and anger. A few years ago, I met a sweet, loving, professionally successful man who suddenly started to show signs of depression a year into our relationship. Constant exhaustion and sadness consumed his night after a workday. I grew increasingly frustrated with his moods and I would ask him WTF was going on. I wondered if he just didn’t want to be in the relationship. He insisted that he still wanted to be together, but acknowledged that he didn’t understand why he was feeling this way. He also believed that since it wasn’t something he felt everyday he didn’t think it would affect our relationship growth.
Finally, TWO years into the relationship, with some convincing on my part, we had a heart-to-heart conversation about my concerns. That’s when he finally admitted that he had strong feelings of sadness and felt disconnected. These feelings were happening long before we met, but he was convinced that he could still be in a loving relationship.
It wasn’t long before I realized that this man who was once a cheerful, loving man was likely clinically depressed. How did this suddenly happen? Was he always this way and hid it from me in fear that I wouldn’t want to be with him?
According to an article written by Margaret Jaworski of psycom.net, dating with depression carries the added burden of figuring out when and how much to reveal about your condition to the person you’re dating. To tell or not to tell.
So, is it even possible to be in a relationship with someone who is depressed? I asked Dr. Julie Davelman of Abrams Psychological Services for her advice.
As per Dr. Davelman, it depends on where in the relationship process you are. If you started in a new relationship and the person is depressed then you need to be honest with yourself that you know what’s involved. You are probably going to need to work harder while being in the relationship. GET OVER THE IDEA that you’re going to SAVE somebody. You can’t fix them. If you are willing to get involved, go in and help them but it’s a hard place to start when going into a relationship.
What are the signs of depression?
Depression is well beyond sadness. Some of the symptoms include loss of interest in enjoyable activities, signs of severe of sadness, believing that everything is awful now and will always be awful, lack of motivation to get up and do activities on an ongoing basis. In relationships, they will start to withdraw from their partners. However, if you are already in the relationship with someone and they start to isolate themselves then they might be going into a depression.
Things you can do to help your partner:
- Figure out how to keep them engaged to prevent isolation from others
- Encourage them to do outside activities
- Encourage them to seek help to normalize the feelings and reassure them that they are not crazy
- Remember that you can’t fix depression
- Monitor your own emotional well-being and make sure that you are seeking help for yourself
- Keep crisis intervention number resources, emergency room on hand and call the police if necessary.
“The earlier you treat the problem the less of a problem there is to treat” says Dr. Davelman.
Relationships are complicated, and people come with illnesses, quirks and struggles. At times this is scary and difficult. But learning how to connect in our differences with others and learning to connect in our partner’s pain is important because these elements exist in all relationships.
To reach Dr. Julie Davelman go do www.abramspsychservices.com
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Photo credit: Min An
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