Tips for coping with a depressed partner

Depression can affect people we live with and it is important to handle it in a sensitive manner. Here are some tips:

Prevention is better than cure so be aware of what can trigger depression and behaviours that are self-destructive like working too hard, having unrealistic expectations about yourself, or being too self-critical.

Look out for warning signs like mood changes, more alcohol consumption, being irritable, poor sleep, not caring about their appearance etc.

Challenge the person about their behaviour in a firm and not confrontational way as arguing can make things worse. Try to help your partner admit there’s a problem, because only then can recovery begin.

Listen well, especially when your partner starts talking about things that concern you and you want to answer back. Encourage your partner to open up, and be prepared to face uncomfortable issues.

Show them that you are open-minded and prepared to consider every possibility, but don't go along with major, life-changing decisions they want to make while they are feeling low. They may see things differently as they recover.

Don’t say things like everything is alright with them and you don’t understand why they feel so low. This does not help.

Do little things that show your partner you care for them and nurture them. Make time to be together. Understand that your partner is unwell and may not be able to do many of the things they would normally achieve without effort.

Try to encourage them to set small goals that are achievable. Encourage exercise and doing things. Many depressed people stop going out and slowly stop doing things.

One of the key ways to help with depression is doing things and keeping mentally and physically active. Try to encourage them to do small things that bring pleasure.

Don’t ignore your own health as carers can get depressed too. Do things that make you feel good.

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