When you’re in a relationship with someone who’s depressed, watching them struggle can also hit you hard. You’re 100 percent committed to being there for your partner and showing them that you care, but you’re unsure about how to support them in a way that is actually helpful and also respects their boundaries. It doesn’t help that there’s still a huge stigma around mental illness today, which makes it ten times harder to find resources that educate you on best practices on effectively supporting your partner.
To better understand the impact of depression on your significant other, it’s important to check in with them about their symptoms, according to Medical News Today. Getting a read on how they’re feeling physically and emotionally will show your partner that you’re empathetic without coming off in a patronizing manner. Here are surefire ways that you can be there for your loved one when they’re depressed.
Have an open dialogue with your partner without sugar-coating their experience
Before delving into an effective list of do’s, let’s clarify a hard don’t. When your partner is depressed, the absolutely worst thing you can do is nothing. Megan Bruneau, M.A., psychotherapist, and author of How to Be Alone, stressed to mindbodygreen the importance of acknowledging your partner’s struggle with their mental health. “Oftentimes, we think ignoring something will make it go away, but ignoring a partner’s mental health slump usually just leaves them feeling further isolated,” she explained. If you really want to support your significant other, you have to be willing to listen to what they’re going through and not sweep it under the rug.
But be mindful of what you say and how you say it. It’s ridiculously easy to default to positive talk and try to get your partner to see the “bright side” of things instead of focusing on the negative. All this ends up doing is making your partner feel invalidated and like their feelings don’t matter, even if you had good intentions, per PsychCentral.
Getting into the habit of asking your significant other what they need from you and honoring it, even if it’s a request for space, can also go a long way toward making them feel understood, according to Healthline. The best thing you can do for your loved one is show them that you’re there for them, while also taking care of yourself, too.
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