How Can You Help Someone With Depression – Jeff Zuckerman and his wife had been married for 30 years when he began to struggle with bipolar disorder and depression. He had his first manic episode in the spring of 2015. Immediately after that, he was thrown into a deep depression. The couple’s marriage was disrupted by health crises.
“You have to understand that depression is not so much sadness, but emptiness,” explained Mr. Zuckerman, 68, who is a freelance writer and editor in Minneapolis. When his wife’s depression was at its worst, she would lie in bed with the blinds drawn for months. He stopped showering and barely spoke.
- 1 How Can You Help Someone With Depression
- 2 Nimh » Depression
- 3 How To Help A Loved One Or Co Worker With Depression
- 3.1 Helpful Things To Say To Someone With Depression
- 3.2 How To Help Someone Who Is Depressed
How Can You Help Someone With Depression
“This is a woman who was so active and led our family. She was a mother, she was working, all that, and then she fell into this deep depression,” said Mr. Zuckerman, who wrote the book “Unglued: A Bipolar Love Story,” about the love of a husband or wife in the socket.of mental illness.
Nimh » Depression
Millions of Americans are in relationships with partners who are prone to depression. About 21 million adults in the United States have experienced at least one episode of major depression, while in some parts of the country, up to 10 percent have seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a syndrome that tends to flare up in the fall and winter. . as the daylight hours become shorter.
When it comes to helping your partner overcome their struggles with depression, experts say there are ways to be supportive while also taking care of yourself.
Knowing some of the physical and emotional markers of depression can help you determine if your partner is simply in a bad mood, burned out, or living with depression. Common signs include loss of interest in regular activities, changes in appetite or sleep, or unexplained physical symptoms such as headaches or back pain that usually last at least two weeks, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Learning more about what depression is and how it affects people can help you protect yourself emotionally, respond more empathetically, and avoid taking your partner’s behavior personally.
How To Help A Loved One Or Co Worker With Depression
“If a partner doesn’t understand that their partner is suffering from depression, they may mistake things like a loss of interest in romance or sex as personal rejection,” explains Xavier Amador, clinical psychologist and co-author of When a Person. You love is depressed. “
When your partner is suffering, you may feel like diving in and telling them what you think is going on. But try to lead by asking questions, said Dr. Amador. Ask your partner how they feel. Tell them you want to know more about what they are going through.
If your partner is defensive, Dr. Amador recommends a strategy known as “reflective listening.” For example, if you ask your loved one how they feel and they tell you everything is fine and nothing is wrong, you respond with something like, “What you are telling me is nothing wrong. right? Can I tell you what I noticed?” Dr. Amador explained.
If you try to guide the questions rather than rush to share your opinion, your partner is more likely to feel heard and valued rather than judged.
Helpful Things To Say To Someone With Depression
To help your loved one get a diagnosis and treatment, you can call potential providers and make appointments or make a list of doctors to contact. But experts say it’s also important to remember that no one can be forced to seek help, and that pushing too hard can backfire.
“It’s a balancing act,” says Lily Brown, director of the Center for Anxiety Treatment and Research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. “Of course you want to be available to talk and suggest how they can get help, but if you steer the boat too much, people struggling with depression can actually start to feel a little more helpless and a little more hopeless.”
He added that partners who put too much responsibility on themselves also often feel guilty and ashamed when they don’t solve the problem.
You should not be the only support of your partner, especially in situations where they may be in danger. Keep in mind that depression can increase your risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts — and 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers resources to help a loved one in crisis.
Romantic partners can influence each other’s health and health-related behaviors in good and bad ways, and Dr. Amador noted that there is some research that suggests depressive symptoms can be contagious in some ways.
“If you live with someone who is depressed and discouraged—and often doesn’t want help—you can start to feel depressed and discouraged,” explained Dr. Amador.
It is imperative to support your mental health, both Dr. Amador and Dr. Brown emphasize. If you have symptoms of depression, see a health care provider for an evaluation. But even if you’re not, you may find it helpful to see a therapist or join a peer support group.
Mr. Zuckerman is a volunteer coordinator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, a support group for families and partners of people with mental illness. And it helped him connect with a community of people who understood what he was going through. Every other week, Mr. Zuckerman and about 10 to 15 other partners discuss coping skills; help each other deal with feelings of sadness or guilt; and offer a safe place to share your challenges and successes.
How To Help Someone Who Is Depressed
In addition to reaching out to a therapist or support group as needed, it’s also important to find other ways to prioritize self-care. It should not take time or complicated, said Dr. Brown. Simply getting out of the house and taking time for activities you enjoy can help protect your emotional well-being when your partner is struggling.
Spend time in nature, participate in some advocacy, or move your body. Research shows that, for example, jogging for 15 minutes a day or less strenuous activities such as walking or gardening for an hour can protect against depression.
And “socialize, socialize, socialize—whatever that feels like to you,” advises Dr. Amador. “It’s really important to have social support and release that.” You can encourage your partner to join you in your efforts to get out and exercise or connect with others, but remember that a loss of interest in normal activities or hobbies is a symptom of depression.
Mr Zuckerman’s wife, who gave her husband permission to share their story but only on condition of anonymity, had been stable for three years and said the couple’s relationship was “great”. They go to the cinema, concerts and dance performances together. They cook, spend time with their grandchildren and go to synagogue.
Tips For Communicating With Someone Who Is Depressed
But Mr. Zuckerman also keeps reminding himself that he is not selfish in prioritizing self-care.
“We love our partners and our spouses to our core, and we know at a gut level that it is a disease. We know that no one is to blame for the disease,” Zuckerman said. “However, what we go through as a result. of it can be overwhelming.”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, call or text 988 to get in touch
A version of this article appears in print on page 3 of the New York edition of Section A under the headline: Here to Help; How to help a partner living with depression. Reprint order | Today’s article | Membership Our comprehensive care team can also work with your entire family to address the challenges you face together.
How To Provide Help When You Live With Someone Who’s Depressed
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