Tips for dating someone with depression
Depression is an illness the general public unfortunately doesn’t quite understand, but it is all too common in the United States. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, over 300 million people globally-of all ages, creeds, backgrounds, and genders-suffer from some form of depression. What is depression? How do you date someone who suffers from this mental health condition? Keep reading to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of dating someone with depression.
What is Depression?
Depression is defined as a serious mental health condition in which pervasive feelings of overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, and sorrow affect the victim; causing changes in eating habits, social behaviors, and much more.
Depression is often mistaken for “just being sad”. This is not the case. Sadness is not a pervasive, invasive feeling like depression. Just being sad doesn’t change your entire schedule or your behaviors for the long-term.
Avoid Generalized Statements
When you’re dating a person with depression, it can be difficult to understand what they’re going through. We often default to our generalized statements when we think someone is sad; statements such as “this will pass” or “everyone goes through a time like this”. These statements can actually be harmful rather than helpful to someone suffering from depression.
It’s best to avoid these statements altogether. Making a depressed person feel like they’re not alone in their struggle may feel like the right thing, but often those suffering from the illness feel isolated already, and attempting to convince them that other people are going through the same thing simply doesn’t help.
Empathy is the Doorway to Understanding
The best way to reach someone with depression is to truly empathize with their situation. Empathy is the doorway to understanding, and the only way we can truly connect with those suffering from this disorder. You may be thinking to yourself, “Well, I’ve never experienced depression, so how can I empathize?”
This is a good time to cite the differences between empathy and sympathy, which people often get confused. Sympathy is essentially you looking in from the outside of a problem; feeling bad for the person involved, but saying things like “this will pass” or “it’s always darkest before the dawn”.
Empathy is a much more powerful tool, as it puts you right on the front lines. Instead of looking in from the outside, you’re on the inside, gaining a true understanding of your loved one’s struggle. What’s the best way to empathize? Listen. Too many of us listen to speak, and don’t listen to hear. We’ve got the next statement on standby before whoever is talking is even finished. Listening intently, with purpose and resolve, will help you better empathize and understand the very real fight going on within your loved one’s mind.
Study up on Their Condition
Perhaps you’ve only heard of depression in passing, and you have no idea what it is or how to respond to it. This is a great opportunity to read up on the illness and familiarize yourself with its symptoms and triggers. Depression can be caused by a myriad of factors, so sometimes it can be very difficult to narrow down where the depression is coming from. This is not our job, but rather a job for a professional.
Our job as the boyfriend/girlfriends of those suffering from depression is to understand, empathize, and support. We must understand that no amount of platitudes or sympathetic speeches is going to cure the person’s depression. The best thing we can do is study up on the illness, understand it better, and support the person we love.
It’s also important to study up on things that help with depression. Certain products, like CBD oil, have been found to aid with certain illnesses and may even help with depression. Visit Verma Farms for statistics about the usage of CBD oil.
Be There in Their Time of Need
When depressive episodes strike, our loved ones need a solid foundation on which to steady themselves. They may become withdrawn; missing class, work, etc. It’s important that we follow up, ensuring they’re ok and not contemplating suicide or anything of the sort. Unfortunately, sometimes suicide is part of depression. This is the worst possible outcome, but it does happen, and we can help prevent it.
If you think your boyfriend or girlfriend is contemplating suicide or having any sort of violent thoughts, do not be afraid to ask them. There is a misconception that asking a suicidal person if they’re thinking about suicide will encourage them to do it. This is not the case. In fact, sometimes that one simple question can mean the difference between life and death.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers, counselors, and parents, either. You’ll have to expect some adverse reactions, especially from parents. Sometimes shock, guilt, anger, and even resentment, are expected outcomes when you have this discussion with a parent, but it’s a necessary step to getting your boyfriend or girlfriend the help they need. Be their advocate. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Seek Professional Help if Things Get Worse
If your loved one’s depression worsens, and they become more withdrawn or are constantly talking about, drawing, or writing about death, it’s time to seek professional help. Never leave someone alone who has told you they’re thinking about suicide. Stay with them until help arrives.
It’s a good idea to do some research into the different treatments that are available so, if and when your partner does ask you to help them find professional help, you already know what the options are.
Seeking the advice of a doctor is usually the best place to start. Depending on the severity of the depression, they may prescribe medication to help manage the symptoms but they will also give you advice about talking therapies. This is the best treatment option for people with depression because it helps them understand the underlying reasons for their negative feelings and gives them tools to manage those emotions.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is one of the most common talking therapies available for people with depression and it is incredibly effective. If you are concerned about your partner, it may be worth looking online and searching things like, what is cognitive behavioral therapy and how does it work? If you are able to talk your partner through the different treatment options that are available to them, it will alleviate some of the anxiety they have and, hopefully, encourage them to seek professional help.
There is no rule against speaking with a counselor or mental health professional on behalf of someone else either. If you are truly concerned for the well being of the victim, don’t be afraid to reach out to professional resources in your area. NAMI, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has resources all over the country for just such occasions. There are people willing to listen and to help; you need only reach out on behalf of those you love and ask the hard questions.