When your partner is suffering from depression it can impact you and your relationship. Living with someone who suffers from depression can be challenging and the process takes time and patience.

You may be unfamiliar with the symptoms of depression but notice that your partner is acting differently. It’s not uncommon to feel hopeless in supporting your partner since you are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of depression. But, there are things you can do to help.

Here are 5 tips to help your partner who is struggling with depression.

Educate yourself on depression
It’s important to understand depression, its effects and treatment in order to help your partner make informed decisions. Researching websites and reading books about depression can be helpful to you and your partner. You want to learn about various resources and tools to help support your loved one.

Recognize the symptoms
Depression looks different for different people so you want to familiarize yourself with your partner’s symptoms. He or she may be experiencing persistent, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and concentrating, loss of interest in activities, friends, and even suicidal thoughts. You want to be able to recognize the onset of the symptoms and encourage professional help as soon as possible. You may be the first to notice behavior changes in your partner and these insights are valuable during treatment.

Encourage your partner to open up
Talk about depression openly as it shows you care and want to help. Your partner may not be ready to talk so it’s important to emphasize that you don’t want them to feel pressured to share with you. Just letting them know you are willing to listen in a non-judgmental way can be extremely beneficial.

Try not to fix the issue
Avoid trying to “fix” the issue and encourage your partner to seek help. Don’t feel that you have to have all the answers. Try not to get frustrated because you cannot help. You help most by just being there and making efforts to understand. You can offer support, empathic listening and even ask your partner if they want you to participate in their treatment. Offering a hug and letting them know “we will get through this together” can be comforting to your partner.

Support your partner
Making sure your partner is taking care of his or her physical needs and reminding them to take their medications is helpful during the treatment process. Emphasize that it’s not their fault and remind them that they are loved.

Caring for your partner with depression can be emotional taxing. It’s important to also take care of yourself and seek out your own supports at this time. The good news is that a combination of medication and talk therapy can help your partner feel better and return to their normal level of functioning.

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