Every now and then, being humans, we come to a point where we’ll need more than just ourselves to keep going. External factors ranging from work issues, or even things happening in the life of a close relation or friend can affect us in adverse ways; sometimes leaving us with depression.
While depression is a condition that affects lots of people, it’s important to note that we all experience or respond to it in different ways, with varying symptoms. Being present for your partner when (s)he’s going through a depressive time is great, but even more important than that is what you do while being there for them.
In this article, we’ll learn about some 5 things we can do to be supportive when our partner is experiencing depression.
Understand that it’s not a product of their imagination or ‘in their head’
It’s very unfortunate that in an attempt to get a friend or relation to overcome depression, some people end up dismissing that person’s experience by saying it only exists in their head and therefore, not as serious as they make it out to be. That is wrong.
For most people observing from the outside, getting over depression is as simple as deciding to sing happy songs and giving the middle finger to anything that threatens one’s joy. Well, it’s never been that elementary. No one chooses to consistently have low energy levels, or the low tolerance for pain, among others, that depression dumps on their doorstep.
What you can do, instead, is to acknowledge the validity of their concerns. Yes, considering the fact that depression is a result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, you can say it’s in the head; not to get them anxious — but instead, to acknowledge how real the issue is so as to encourage them to seek professional help.
Encourage them to find support
For many people, the idea of seeking external help or professional support is something they only consider as a last resort. The process of finding and reviewing potential therapists can be a daunting task to someone who’s already going through so much.
This is where you should be an ally. Help them with things such as putting down a list of questions they’d want to ask their therapist during that initial session. This would go a long way in making them look forward to working with a therapist.
There will be times when they’ll feel like discontinuing the sessions because they don’t feel like going any further. In such times, you have to remind them of moments in the past where they felt some headway was being made. Urge them to stick to their sessions while exploring other possible approaches with their therapist.
Do some personal research on depression
What’s better than showing up when someone needs you? Showing up prepared. That’s one of the best ways to be there for someone.
Understand that with all that your partner is going through, it would be very draining if they have to be explaining things to, and trying to educate every concerned person in their life about the health issue they are experiencing.
While people have different experiences with depression, it’s important that you avoid the temptation or urge to ask them to tell you about what depression is. Take time to research on the causes, symptoms, as well as treatments on your own — as these can help you have more in-depth and meaningful conversations with your loved one.
Learn to be patient with them
Treating depression, as well as the recovery process can be slow. There will be a lot of trial and error with counseling approaches, therapy methods, as well as medication before the patient finds something that works for their condition.
Keep in mind that depression doesn’t go away even when a successful treatment has been found and your partner has seen an improvement in their condition. There will be symptoms from time to time, and some really bad days. Do well to not let such times of ‘relapse’ frustrate you.
Don’t become an extension of them
They being your partner means you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with them. This may end up taking a toll on your own emotional health. While it’s necessary for you to be emotionally present,it’s important not to get so involved that you basically become two persons going through depression.
Take time out to recharge. Be clear about how you would be involved in their daily activities, and set boundaries where necessary. If you’re going to have to be present for them then, you have to take care of yourself. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have.