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From a Utah Counselor: Supporting Your Partner Through Depression
Thoughts From a Utah Counselor: Supporting Your Partner Through Depression
As a Utah couples counselor, I can assure you that feeling sad is a completely normal part of life. You might have felt sad after losing a pet or falling ill. Sadness is something we all experience and serves an important purpose in our life. Similarly, depression is closely related to sadness but is more intense and can last longer.
In relationships, it is possible that one or both partners may experience depression throughout life. Knowing how to support your partner through depression can provide much relief during this difficult time.
Recognize & Listen
One of the key ways you can support your spouse is by being able to recognize when they are having a hard time. Sometimes, even they can’t recognize it! Is your partner quieter than usual? Do they no longer do things they used to enjoy? Or are they sleeping in longer than usual? These could all be signs that something is going on. If you know they have depression, it might be easier to identify signs. Avoid the temptation to blame yourself for what they are experiencing. Depression can show up at any time for any reason. (For Additional Tips on Recognizing Depression, Check Out This Article).
Along with recognizing, listening is another important part of supporting your partner through depression. Simply letting your partner know that you can see they are going through a lot can be extremely helpful. Curiously and lovingly asking them to help you better understand what they are going through allows them to feel seen and cared about. Try not to jump to fix the problem and just focus on listening and being with them. (Related article: How to Offer Support When Your Spouse is Depressed).
Sometimes the most selfless thing you can do for your partner is to be a little selfish (Related article: Why Self Care is So Important for Longevity and Wellness). Life gets busy. Families are amazing and require a lot of work. Maybe, your dream job is fulfilling but it also requires you to work 50+ hours a week. The house and yard probably require time and work as well.
While all of those things are absolutely important, make sure to take time to take care of yourself as well. Do whatever you need to to make sure you get time to recharge your batteries. Even if money is tight and a babysitter is expensive, find a way to get some you-time. You may feel the need to constantly help cheer your spouse up, but this can lead to burnout which could limit your ability to be supportive.
One of the most important aspects of supporting your partner is finding additional support. While you care about them and want to help them, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, many important parts of your relationship could take a hit if you are the only source of emotional support for your partner (Related article: Support Your Partner… But Not Too Much).
Loving and supportive relationships are an important part of healing and recovery–but they shouldn’t be the only part. Therapy, medicine, support groups, friends, extended family, and hobbies are some of the common options available. Research would suggest a combination of therapy and medicine along with increased social support is more likely to lead to successful healing and recovery (Source).
Patience & Hope
While you and your partner whether the storms of depression, rest assured there are many reasons for hope that things will get better. Depression has been researched for decades which has led to several effective interventions to help reduce and/or overcome depression completely. (Source) Most interventions will take time, however, and patience is an important part of treatment.
It is difficult to see our partners and anyone we care about struggle with depression. Its impact can extend to all areas of life including work, friendships, home, and intimate relationships. Recognizing and listening are some of the most helpful things you do for your partner. Remember to take care of yourself during the treatment process and take advantage of the resources that are there to help your partner through depression. Lastly, be patient and continue to hold hope that depression will one day no longer have such a large impact on the life of you and your partner.
Find Additional Help from a Utah Counselor
Need extra support for yourself and your relationship during a difficult time? Begin couples counseling in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork, Utah.
Written by Ryan Anstead, LAMFT