Depression involves a downward spiral into a sinking pit of despair. Any person who has suffered from depression will be able to relate to this opinion. Once you have sunk into a depression it will not be easy for you to resurface. It is possible though. There are many things that can help a person make a full recovery from depression and perhaps one of the most important is a committed partner. If your partner does not give a hoot about you then perhaps he or she is part of the problem.
Recovery and treatments will depend on how long you have been suffering depression, your general health, any underlying other health issues and your life. Family support can be a useful tool in the fight back to the real world.
Partners often struggle to cope with a partner who has depression. It is all too easy to put yourself at the root of the problem. This is rarely the case. Some people have a propensity to become depressed whilst for others it could be related to a hormone imbalance or the stress of life.
Many women suffer depression for the first time as either post-natal depression after the birth of a baby, or during the menopause, when feel good hormones may be at a low level.
So how can you help and support your partner through this period of debilitating depression?
You should not have to tread on egg shells but you may find that more thought over your words and actions can help. Avoid ill thought out comments and instead try a sensitive approach. Remember your partner may normally be able to cope with anything you verbally throw at him or her but that has changed, at least for now.
Sex can be last thing on a depressed person's mind. Anti-depressant medication can also reduce a person's libido. Try not to put pressure on your partner to perform sexually. If you have a loving relationship sex will return in time.
Encouragement is good but also can be tough. Take for example your partner's appearance. Caring less about their appearance, well-being or personal hygiene can be symptom of depression. Your partner may struggle to get out of bed each day let alone spruce up for the outside world. Patience is the key. However look at adding a few changes a little at a time. Small "baby" steps may bring around a gradual change for the better. If you try and bully the person you will get nowhere and may do more harm than good.
Having said all of that you must be true to yourself. Putting on a false front for your partner is never a good idea. You will have some days when you wish you were anywhere but with your depressed partner. Try to take each day as it comes and remember you are not a health professional but simply a partner doing their best to help and support.
Ensure that your partner attends doctor's appointment, sticks to medication plans and visits counselling sessions if necessary. However, you are both adults and you cannot make your partner do any of this. You may though be able to persuade instead.
Make sure that you look after yourself. It can be very difficult and time consuming supporting a partner who is depressed. What use are you if you too become physically or mentally ill? Take some "me" time-out in order to keep in touch with friends and family, or what you will.
Help your partner make any necessary life changes to ease their depression. The depression could be work related, a problem at home or simply a clinical depression. If your partner can gradually open up and talk with you they may find that their fears have no foundation but are just part of their depressed state of mind.
A depressed person usually puts themselves into virtual isolation. They may turn scenarios over and over in their mind or find it hard to speak hardly at all to anyone. Try to get your partner to open up a little. Silly as it seems something such as a telephone conversation can be a worry to a depressed person. They may let the phone ring and avoid talking to any callers at all. Passing them the phone just to say "Hi" could be a start.
Encouraging an increase in physical activity would also be helpful, especially if it is outdoors. For example, walking the dog together you will both benefit from fresh air, exercise and encountering other human beings.
It can be a long road to recovery though and you will have to take it a step at a time.
Your partner may need to stay on medication for life, may never become depressed again or may find that periods of depression will be a fact of life for them. If this is the case you will need to make sure that you can cope with this. However, should depression recur it could be that you will identify the warning signs much sooner. This could mean that the period of depression is shorter and less intense.
We are all individuals. This is also true of your partner's depression. Take what advice you are given but remember you are not a miracle worker. If the situation is not improving contact your health professional again. Ask for advice and recommendations. In time things will improve, just try not to "beat you or your partner up" so to speak.
Depression may be a fact of life for many people but it does not have to ruin life for either of you.
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