Social Question

Jude's avatar

If you're in a relationship with someone who is depressed, how do you deal with it?

Asked by Jude (31977 points ) February 18th, 2010

Perhaps, they chose not to take medication..

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48 Answers

candide's avatar

be nice to them, but not too nice

marinelife's avatar

There have been some very good discussions on this topic recently on here. One poster (sorry, I can’t remember who it was) suggested asking them if they have done simple self-care things (like “Have you brushed your teeth?” “Do you have dishes in the sink?”).

They then went on to tell a story of going outside with them to a park. Where they just sat for a few days. Then, they began to walk around the park.

Jude's avatar

@marinelife thank-you.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

It’s a challenge, that’s for sure. Don’t expect to be able to “fix” your SO’s depression. It is not your responsibility and, unless you are a trained psychologist, way beyond what you can handle. The most you can ever do is simply be there for your SO. Do your best to cheer them up, but understand that won’t always be possible. Encourage them to keep pushing forward. Remind them that this is NOT the end, and they WILL get better if they work for it. Taking medication is a personal choice, but if they are not taking medication then regularly seeing a therapist is vital.

When someone is depressed it is very hard to get moving and do anything but sit around and do nothing all day. You may have to be the one to drag them out of bed and take them to their appointments. But you will also have to be the one to sit there and simply hug them while they cry, or take them to do something fun.

It’s important not to beat yourself up if things don’t get better right away. Even medications can take a month or two to kick in. Be patient, and don’t stop encouraging your SO to get help. As long as you are there for them, you are doing the right thing.

Good luck with this – it’s a difficult position for anyone to be in.

Cruiser's avatar

Do all that is realistic to help them through their issue and make sure you have your own outlet(s) for your unmet needs to help keep you sane in this difficult time. Make sure you get out of the house!

wundayatta's avatar

Knowing and understanding their patterns. Not believing the shit they say about themselves or you. Remain loving and caring all the way through. It really matters. Helping them stay on their meds and get therapy and do whatever they need to do. They won’t care about themselves, so you have to do it for them.

But mostly I think it’s preparing yourself psychologically. You have to be really strong. If you let fear get to you, it makes it really hard on you, too. I don’t know how to tell you to do that. That is the big trick, and one my support person doesn’t know how to do, either.

Leanne1986's avatar

I’m the one that is more prone to (obvious) depression in my relationship. The way my boyfriend deals with it is to make light of it which definately works for me (although I can think of many people that would be offended by it). Basically if he can see that I am in a funk he makes fun of me. Not in a cruel way, in a “let’s make fun of it so realises it’s not welcome here” kind of way. It usually works. It helps put things into perspective and makes me smile.

However, my biggest problem is the one that he struggles to deal with. I go into panic mode when something is really worrying me and I am very irrational at this point. My boyfriend is extremely laid back and can’t understand how someone can get so worked up about things that may never happen. Usually when this happens he just rides it out with me.

He is actually a saint and I am blessed to have his time and patience.

EdMayhew's avatar

As someone who suffers from depression, I can offer one piece of advice; take time out for yourself. This way you can take a step back and deal with any arguments or tensions.

However, bear in mind that loneliness is horrible when you’re depressed, so try to make sure you’re not out ‘having a great time’ when they’re at home doing nothing, this will make them feel miserable and their imagination will run riot, and they could get jealous.

Make sure when you do go out and have ‘you time’, that they are doing something too, maybe they’re at with family, or going to the movies with friends etc. This way you get your space, but they won’t get depressed about the fact that you need your own space, and it’s less likely to become an issue.

xx

CMaz's avatar

Nothing a good lay can’t solve.

Likeradar's avatar

@ChazMaz That’s ridiculous.

Is your SO doing anything, like seeing a therapist? Is it ongoing clinical depression or is the person just in a situational funk?

CMaz's avatar

@Likeradar – Yea, true. :-) But what the heck. Good feeling make for good feelings.

Jude's avatar

@Likeradar a funk. It’s been going on for a month now. No, she’s not seeing a therapist.

When we’re together, she has a great time. During the week, though (when she’s on her own. We don’t live together), she’s not getting out at all and her mood is way low. She used to exercise, but, is not doing that anymore. It could be a seasonal thing. She is also quite emotional.

Chaz, the sex is great, wonderful in fact…Sure, it helps for the moment. But, that’s not the answer, lol. She is a different person when we are together. She lights up and we always have a great time. When I’m away from her, she reverts back to her bummer mood.

EdMayhew's avatar

@ChazMaz Actually, it’s a good point- a solid relationship between those involved, including a healthy sex life, is going to make everything a lot smoother. Plus sex releases all sorts of happy hormones into the body, helping to stave off those sad thoughts.

xx

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

It’s challenging. You have to be patient and understanding.

It’s near impossible if you yourself have depression issues that aren’t being addressed.

The affected person has to be diligent about taking are of themselves. If the depressed person ha a habit of treating ther partner like an emotional punching bag, the relationship will not last long.

BoBo1946's avatar

Wow…if they will not take meds, not much you can do accept give them your support and a “good arm to cry on!”

Jude's avatar

No, she won’t do meds, nor a therapist.

This morning, she told me that she is “no longer being a bum”, and that she forced herself to go for a walk on the beach last night, and gave a herself a good ol slap on the face this morning..to snap out of it. I signed us up for karate and she’s totally down with that. I’m thinking that maybe, exercise will help.

It all started when I had a cancer scare less than a month ago. I was sick for over a month. We hardly got to see each other and she was filled with worry. She hardly ever left her place. She’s been in a bummer mood ever since.

BoBo1946's avatar

@jmah ummm..tough deal! How about this person’s parents, can they talk to this person?

CMaz's avatar

The best thing you can do for a relationship. Where the individual will not take medication or get professional help. Is to get away.

Or their problems will become yours. You are actually not helping by clinging on to this person. They need help, and it is best when they go about it unattached.

Especially if they are not willing to do anything about it.

BoBo1946's avatar

@ChazMaz yep, co-dependent!

Jude's avatar

Fellas, it’s been only a month. Take it easy. Co-dependent, my ass.

CMaz's avatar

Only a month? Good, should be easier to get away.

Jude's avatar

@ChazMaz you’re a brat. ;-)

BoBo1946's avatar

@jmah ChazMaz has a point here. Googled codependency and found this info that applies to this situation. Appears this person is complete denial. Now, how to approach the situation, have no idea.
...

Codependents Anonymous offers these patterns and characteristics as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.[1]

Denial Patterns:

I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.
I minimize, alter or deny how I truly feel.
I have difficulty making decisions.
I do not ask others to meet my needs or desires.
I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings and behavior over my own.
I do not perceive myself as a lovable or worthwhile person.

BoBo1946's avatar

www.findingoptimism.com/.../ways-to-build-up-someone-with-depression/ -

Thought this might help. Best one i could find on this problem.

marinelife's avatar

@jmah Why won’t she do meds or a therapist? Does she have logical reasons? Or is it just a blanket “no”?

CMaz's avatar

And as @BoBo1946 answer shows.

There is no place for a relationship when those issues are part of it.

Jude's avatar

@marinelife she doesn’t go to the doctor (even to see a physician). She hasn’t for years.

The reason why she choses not take meds or see a therapist is that she feels as though she’ll be able to snap out of it on her own. She has been having a terrible bout with PMS this past week. I mean, she gets emotional and spaced out a bit during PMS, normally, but, that usually lasts for a day or two, then she’s fine. This time around, though, it’s gone on for a week and it’s been really bad. I posted a question about “how to deal with a partner who suffers from terrible PMS (something to that effect)” and one response was to maybe to go on meds, or perhaps, her hormones are out of whack, so, maybe, the pill? I suggested that to her last night, and her response, “nah-ah”.

I don’t think that she has ever been to a gyno.

DrC's avatar

Scheduling exercise and activities are the best way to help out. That improves your energy level, your level of endorphins, and your motivation. Being supportive, but realistic is important. But remember, you should not be her therapist or be the one responsible to “fix” her. If she can improve her mood by refocusing on being active and allowing herself to celebrate her accomplishments and achievements, that’s great. If she continues to be depressed, you need to let her know what you will and what you won’t accept. It’s not fair for one person in the relationship to suffer because the other refuses to get therapy if they really need it.

MissAnthrope's avatar

Okay, well, the lack of self-care in terms of not even seeing the gyno is a little alarming to me.. it’s a small red flag, like either she had a trauma involving doctors or she doesn’t value herself enough to make sure her body is well.

The other thing that stood out to me is that she lights up when you’re around, but is in a funk when she’s by herself. It stands out because I’ve experienced that before.. there are times in my life I’m incapable of generating my own happiness and I rely on others for this. So, it sounds like she needs to work on doing something for her alone times, so it’s not about waiting for the happiness times (like when you come over).

Not being willing to see a therapist is a challenge, because if she’s anything like me, she probably does have some things she could talk to someone about. You didn’t indicate that this is a huge, deep depression, nor do you mention if it repeats itself, so a therapist may not be needed. I’ve successfully improved my mood as much (or more) as an antidepressant and more than seeing a therapist by exercise alone. So, I feel like stepping up the exercise will help a lot, if you can get her to stick to it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I think starting the karate class together is a terrific first step to getting this person out of her depression. The exercise will help.

But it can’t cure the depression. if a person is clinically depressed and not just in a funk, then that takes medication, . Only a doctor can diagnose it.

Encourage your friend to seek medical help. If she flatly refuses, you may want to step back and look at the relationship. Are you giving more than you are receiving? I can’t know the answer to that question. Only you can.

Is the person an energy vampire sucking all your strength? I genuinely hope not. But I have been in the situation where I was giving and giving to a person who would not get help for themselves from the proper channels, and for my own peace of mind, I had to distance myself from this person. I had to limit contact to very short chats online, and I had to keep to very much to the point, making sure they weren’t actively suicidal. Beyond that, I had to protect myself and let the person go.

Jude's avatar

@MissAnthrope I have never seen her like this before and I’ve known her for three years. She has never talked about a battle with depression before, so, I really don’t know… I wouldn’t say that it is a deep, crippling sort of depression. She manages to keep her apartment clean, hygiene, that’s fine, and she gets to work alright.. no problem there. She eats well, and sleeps okay, as far as I know. It’s just that she doesn’t get out at all (other than we me), and has little motivation to do anything else. I’m thinking that it’s a pretty rotten funk. At least, I hope that’s all that it is.

@DrC and @MissAnthrope, I’m thinking that exercise is the way to go.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I spent 7yrs with a depressed person and it was tough. He’d never consider any medications because he swore weed was keeping him alive… along with half a bottle of Vodka every day. Had he not become morose, verbally abusive and increasingly bitter then I probably would have stayed on, believing my love would eventually win out but it didn’t happen that way.

My preference is for the depressed person who actively seeks to help themselves without tearing me down in the process, I’ll go to bat for them and try as hard as I can to not take their moods as a reaction to me. This is the most difficult part, not giving into fears about myself because of someone else’s pre existing issues. So much easier said than done.

SeventhSense's avatar

Challenge them to a depression contest. The first one curled up in a ball on the ground wins. The other one has to go out and get ice cream.

Jude's avatar

@SeventhSense is in the brat category. “No ice-a creama for you!”

SeventhSense's avatar

<—Goes back to bed despondently

max53's avatar

Maybe you could have her look at this or something similar http://www.lessons4living.com/depression_test2.htm

That might help you and her to have an idea about whether she is actually depressed or just not feeling as happy as usual. Does she express to you that she is sad or suicidal, or is she just less active? I agree with the suggestion for more exercise, especially because you said that she used to exercise and hasn’t in awhile.

Sophief's avatar

My boyfriend is, and he handles it pretty well. He doesn’t make me take meds if I don’t want. He is just there as well as he can be. I don’t expect him to be, it is my fuck up not his, but he is good all the same.

marinelife's avatar

@jmah I might wait some period of time, and then gently say, “Remember how you thought you were going to snap out of your depression on your own? Does it seem like you have to you, because it doesn’t seem like it to me.”

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Proper professional assessment is an important first step. If the depressed person is still taking care of themselves and their basic responsibilities, eating and sleeping reasonably well they may be able to benefit from short-term, action-oriented cognitive behaviour therapy to stop the downward spiral and start progressing toward their previous higher level of functioning.

Some people can but David Burns workbook and associated paperback and do the work on their own. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol are counter productive.

You can support your loved one to challenge negative self-defeating thoughts and beliefs.

You need to take care of your own physical and mental health if your are going to be able to help them.

Jude's avatar

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the help.

pear_martini's avatar

encouragre your SO to maybe start working out or doing yoga. Go to a Church or Temple together.Verbal encouragment goes far too

mollypop51797's avatar

Be gentle with them, and support what they do to give them confidence. Encourage to try new things, get out of the house (or wherever) and take up some activities that aren’t too intense for them, but are good time management wise. Lastly, be affirmative. Make sure that you be a little strict with them, not too strict though. A good strict hand every once in a while will help them get their act together.

YARNLADY's avatar

There are many forums and support group websites for people with depression and their families. You can read their experiences and see if there are some good tips and ideas there.

SeventhSense's avatar

I still think the depression-off challenge is the best solution. At least you get ice cream.

evandad's avatar

I leave

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Not very well. Patience isn’t any virtue of mine and I grow panicky and restless if I don’t feel my partner is embracing life as they could. I take it personally if they don’t treat themselves well because I’m loving for two (and more) while I feel they sometimes see only the next hour at a time.

Coloma's avatar

I have experienced situational depression during a divorce some years ago now and the subsequent transsistions to a new way of life. I am not, however, prone to chronic or chemical depression.

I agree that those involved with a depressed person are powerless to really make a difference, aside from basic empathy & kindness.

I also agree that sometimes the wisest choice is to get away from that dysfunctional person especially if they are not taking any steps towards recovery.

I also thing that a whole hell of a lot of these issues are about people using depression or other neurotic emotional problems as a means of controlling those around them.

Being a ‘victim’ and building an entire identiy around ones depression/illness is a very effective method of controlling others through manipulation.

I think most depression/anxiety is symptomatic of a person needs to make some changes in their life, spiritual life, and attitudes, notwithstanding true bio-chemical dysfunctions.

musicislife75's avatar

tell them you are always there for them and they can come to you for anything.

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