Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love Has Depression


When Someone You Love Has Depression.

Depression builds walls around people and between people. When someone you love has been dragged inside those walls, there can be a distance between you both that feels relentless. You miss them, but they’re right there beside you, except that they’re kind of not. Not in the way you both want to be anyway.

The symptoms of depression exist on a spectrum. All of them are normal human experiences, but in depression they’re intensified. Not everyone who has depression will have a formal diagnosis, so knowing what to watch out for can help to make sense of the changes you might notice.

Depression looks like a withdrawal. It feels that way too. It’s a withdrawal from everything that is enriching and life-giving. Depression sucks the life out of life. That’s how it feels. When depression bites, everything becomes hard. Life starts to hurt. Those who are bitten stop looking forward to things. They stop engaging and they stop enjoying things, even the things they used to love. They can feel hard to reach, and sometimes they can be angry or appear as though they don’t care. That isn’t because they want to withdraw from you or push you away, they don’t, although it can feel that way. 

Here are some ways to fight for them, beside them and for the times the fight has to be theirs, behind them:

  1. Depression is never a choice.

    If people with depression could be happy, they would be. Depression leaves people feeling as though they’ve been scooped out with a spoon. It’s a hijacking of everything that feels good. The hopelessness, emptiness and loneliness is relentless. If they knew how to be any other way, they would be. 

  2. It’s okay to feel frustrated or angry.

    The helplessness of loving someone with depression can be frustrating, exhausting and lonely. It’s okay to feel angry at times, or as though you want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. You’re human and when you love someone with depression, there will be times that you’ll be in the arena too, fighting the battle. Remember that you’re fighting a common enemy and it’s depression, not the person beside you. Try to see through the symptoms to the person you know, because they’re in there.

  3. Depression is a withdrawal, but not from you.

    When you love someone with depression it can feel as though you’ve lost them for a while. The person you’ve always known and loved is still there, but they’ve withdrawn into themselves, away from the pain and hopelessness of it all, not away from you. It just feels like the safest place to be, but it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have you right there with them if they knew how to do that.

  4. You’re grieving too.

    Depression steals people. If the depression has been around for long enough, you might feel a sense of grief. If you need to get angry, sad, or fall to your knees some days, that’s okay. You’re fighting a battle too. It’s okay to pull back to recharge now and then. Be kind to yourself and do something that replenishes you. Reach out to someone, but don’t lean on the person with depression. People with depression already see themselves as a burden, and anything that inflames that might cause them to withdraw even more.

  5. When nothing is as powerful as something.

    People with depression won’t always have the words and will feel the burden of being with you when they don’t know what to say or do. Let them know that you love that version of them too – the one that has nothing to say, or plenty to say but no will to say it. Let them know that you’re there for them even if they don’t want to talk. Silence with someone can be lovely when you’re depleted. ‘You don’t have to be anyone different to who you are. You don’t need to change or pretend or put on a happy face. I love you and I’m here for you.’

  6. People with depression are strong.

    People with depression are some of the strongest people I’ve met. They have to be. The pain and hopelessness of depression is immense and to keep existing day after day under the weight of that takes an almighty fight, fuelled by almighty strength and courage. 

  7. What they’re doing makes sense.

    We all have needs we can’t give up. They’re the big ones and they’re an inescapable part of being human – love, validation, respect, visibility, safety, influence, connection, appreciation, purpose. You know the ones. When one of these needs isn’t met, the temptation can be to push it down – to ‘depress’ it – to where it’s out of awareness and can’t cause trouble. But of course, any symptom whether physical or emotional will always cause trouble when it’s ignored. It takes the strength of a warrior to keep pushing things down, and getting on with life. Eventually, when people have been strong for too long the armour will crack. Depression hurts, but it makes sense. It’s a creative, adaptive withdrawal from a world that feels painful to be in.

  8. Being positive probably won’t work.

    Reframing things positively is generally done with loving intent, but most likely it just won’t work. The messages that are sent with love will likely be received as ‘nobody understands’. For someone who is being caned by depression, there is no positive. Research has found that people who are already unhappy don’t want to be talked into the glossy view of life, they just want understanding. The view of reality is shaped by a lifetime of experience and sometimes, the way people see the world is exactly the way the world is for them. Trying to push against this can work against what you’re trying to do and intensify the loneliness and desperation of it all. Reframing things in a positive way is important, but it can’t be forced.

  9. So if positive is out, what then?

    You don’t have to fix anything or change anything. If there was a way to do that, they would have done it themselves by now. Instead, acknowledge their pain, ‘I know this is really hard for you,’ and validate what they’re going through ‘I know you’re hurting. That’s understandable given what you’re going through’, or ‘I know you’re fighting a tough battle right now.’ Be the one who can be with them without having to change them. This will probably explode your own feelings of helplessness, but reworking things towards a positive angle will ease your helplessness, not theirs. That helplessness you’re feeling is the bit you’re doing together. So is the pain and the confusion of that. That’s what makes your love unconditional and your support something extraordinary.

  10. Try not to let the negative talk go on and on and on and on and …

    It’s really important to hear people from where they are, but if the discussion of a negative thought goes on and on and on and starts to feel circular, it’s not good for anyone. It’s called rumination and it can make it harder to move through depression. Talk about it with them for sure, but try to persuade the conversation in a different direction after a while if you can.

  11. If you’re struggling for words, let those be the words.

    There’s no need to gloss it up. The truth is that it’s hard to know what to say because there’s nothing that can take away the pain. Don’t worry about saying the ‘right’ thing, there is no right thing. Instead say the ‘real’ thing with love and an open heart. Share what you’re feeling, because chances are that they’re feeling it too. Common ground will shrink the distance between you. You might not be depressed, but chances are you’ll be feeling a lot of the things they’re feeling – sadness, confusion, frustration, helplessness, and the greatest wish that you knew how to make it better. ‘I wish that you weren’t in so much pain and I wish I knew how to soften things for you, but I don’t know how to do that. What I will do is be here for you for as long as it takes.’

  12. Ask them what you do that doesn’t help. And listen.

    Depression can be different for everyone. You can’t be expected to know how to respond. Ask what they need from you and whether there’s something they need you to do differently. Be open to the response and don’t take it personally.

  13. Don’t ask them what they’re depressed about.

    When people are sad they generally have an idea of why. Depression doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes people will be aware of what has triggered their depression, but sometimes it won’t be obvious. On paper, people with depression can look as though they have everything to be happy about – they can even believe that themselves – but depression doesn’t play by any rules.

  1. Try to initiate the things they used to love, that depression has stolen.

    At a time when people need connection the most, depression forces distance. Do everything you can not to let it. Connection and positive feelings strengthen the brain against depression, and exercise can cause the same changes in the brain as antidepressants. The problem is that the very nature of depression will hold people back from doing any of these. Don’t wait for them to feel like doing things. They won’t. Their depression won’t let them. Depression is there to nurture withdrawal, remember. It does this by stealing motivation, and creating exhaustion. Be tender, gentle and loving and reintroduce them to life, connection, and positive feelings. You’re likely to get resistance, and a lot of it. Know that this isn’t personal and do what you can do anyway.

  2. Another reason to initiate.

    Thoughts, feelings and behaviours are intimately connected. They tend to follow each other, so someone with depression will think depressed thoughts (‘Nothing makes a difference’; ‘I’m useless’), feel depressed feelings (pain, hopelessness, exhaustion) and this will drive depressed behaviour (withdrawal and a depressed mood). A change in one will eventually lead to the other but the change is unlikely come from the person with depression. Out of the three, thoughts and feelings are the toughest to change. They’re tenacious. This is why things like, ‘get over it’ or ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘just try to be a bit positive, hey?’ won’t work. The best way is through their behavior, but you’ll have to be stronger than their depression. Initiate walks, dinners, holidays – anything that has the potential to create positive feelings. Take their hand and lead them there gently.

  3. They are not broken.

    There is nothing abnormal about the symptoms of depression. They’re a very normal part of human experience, but with an intensity that’s relentless. We’ve all felt sad, disconnected, the need to withdraw, hopeless, helpless, exhausted, and as though the fun has faded for a while These are all common experiences, even if only fleetingly at times and from the kinder end of the spectrum. What makes these very human experiences lead to a diagnosis of depression is a question of degree. People with depression experience the same we all experience, but at a different intensity, duration, or cluster of symptoms. 

Depression rarely takes hold of just one person. When depression settles into someone, helplessness, fear and sadness bleed through the walls it builds around that person and into the lives of those who love them. It’s exhausting for everyone. There is always a way through depression but it takes an almighty fight. You won’t always have it in you to fight alongside them and you won’t always know what to do but that’s okay – you don’t have to do any of that to fight for them. Few things are as powerful as human connection and anything you can do to nurture that will help to put back what depression strips away.

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I’m just curious how to begin a relationship with a man who suffers with depression. I too have some mental health issues so we do have some common ground/understanding. I have anxiety disorders though have never really felt the full on effect of deep depression. But we’ve been friends for a long time and know each other well and I fell hard for him. He’s insecure yes but we all have our insecurities. I’m not too sure if I should just leave him be and let him contact me or if I should contact him now. We had a wonderful time together a few days ago and I’m just unsure of his feelings or how to approach him. I guess I have this fear of pushing him away. When I’m upset or even just don’t have a smile on my face it’s like his mission in life to see me smile and make me laugh. So after having been intimate he’s suddenly in a funk and I don’t want to make a wrong move and lose him. It would just break my heart. Any advice?

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Leanne this sounds like it could be a wonderful relationship for both of you. Be brave and be gentle. The key is to be open with each other about what you need, and also when you are confused about what the other one needs. Let him know that you loved spending time with him and that you’d love to do it again. Make it easy for him, but give him an out if he isn’t feeling up to it. Offer to go for a walk together – that’s something that can be good for his depression and good for your anxiety. It’s also an easy, no pressure thing to do. All the best with this.


I am in a relationship with a man who is suffering from severe depression for 1.5 years. He is on Celexa but it doesn’t seem to be helping. Some days he cannot even get out of bed. Consequently he is not working. I never know what his mood will be when I get home and it makes me have anxiety. Some days I come home and he is still sleeping but then stays up all night. Other days he’s just angry for any little thing. I’ve had my own bouts with depression and take medication, but lately his funk is rubbing off on me. I feel like nothing is fun any more, everything is a struggle, I work 2 jobs to keep the household afloat and quite frankly I am exhausted. While I feel deeply for him and wish there was something I could do, nothing helps. I feel stuck. It is so sad to see him like this as he is so young. I want to help him but I also need to live my life. He has no place else to stay and so I cant kick him out. I don’t know what to do.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Maria it might be worth encouraging your partner to go back to his doctor. Not all medications will work for all people, and sometimes it might be a case of trying a different one. It’s great that you are such a wonderful support for him, but he also has to support himself in terms of his recovery. If you are compromising to give him what he needs, it is vital that he also works hard to ensure that his depression doesn’t impact you any more than it needs to. Your support is really important but you shouldn’t be giving up more for his depression than he is. There are also other things he can do to help restore the neurochemicals that can contribute to depression. Exercise and mindfulness can make a big difference. There are articles on this link http://www.heysigmund.com/category/being-human/depression/. The nature of depression means that he probably won’t feel motivated to do anything that might help with his depression because of the hopelessness that is often symptomatic of depression. If he wants you to keep supporting him financially and emotionally, it is important that he also contributes to the relationship in some way, even if it is by doing everything he can to help heal his depression. You can support him, but you are not responsible for fixing him, particularly if he is not ready to work on fixing himself.


I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 6 years now…. we were happy until last year.. he was diagnosed with benign brain tumor with occasional seizure… he lost his job… and went into cycles of depression for almost a year… i tried to support him troughout the year..after a year… he seem recovering… started to workout again, going to gym… more cheerful and just recently just got himself a job… unfortunately his new job is too much for him to handle… it triggers his depression again… and here we go… back at square one again.. but this time it is worst than before…he become so hostile… easily irritable… i cant talk to him… every little things i said triggered him easily..the preassure for him is too much… he finally decided to leave me and breakup with me….he feels worthless and said that he doesnt want to make me suffer futher….. after few days of not talking…. i sent him a short message to check on him… he doesnt seems happy… he blame me for his unhappiness and claimed that i’ve never support him, understand him and be on his side all this while… and insist for us to stay apart…this is so frustrating… knowing that he need help and support but at same time pushing me away….i just dont knw what to do? shall i disappear completely and give him time to recover on his own… or shall i check on him once a while and offer my help….

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Casey it sounds as though your boyfriend has been through a traumatic time. Has his depression been diagnosed? If not, it’s important to make sure that his symptoms are from depression and not from something else. If it is depression, ask him what he needs from you, or if it’s okay with him if you check on him. Let him know that you’re there for him if he needs you, but ask what he would like that to look like.

mary jackman

I recently met a good man who told me he gets deprees sometimes his wife left him n they have a a 31yr. old son who is disabled since child hood doctor prescribed anti depression drug. I would like to get some advice how to help him n can depress people get voilent

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Violence is definitely not a symptom of depression. People with depression are no more likely to get violent than people without depression. If this man is becoming violent, think twice before pursuing a relationship with him and be careful about using depression as an excuse for his violence. Ask him what he needs from you – it will be different for everyone.


Iv been in a relationship with someone who suffers from depression for just shy of a year, we have known each other for nine years. We have recently broken up, its happened a few times but this was final I still love him very much and I really do see him as my best friend. He has told me he feels guilty for not loving me the same way although he did. Its been a few weeks since the break but he hasn’t told anyone but he has said that he is going to go to the doctors for help I really couldn’t be prouder of him for taking this step but in finding it really hard to not have him in my life we still meet up and take and sometimes make plans to go places. My family have told me I need to walk way and cut contact but I’m afraid because I dont want to lose him. I’m really confused about want to do because I do think we have a good healthy relationship but if he says he doesn’t love me but wants to feel that way again should I just walk away?


Hey, I’m no expert, and I don’t know what kind of person your boyfriend is, but taking what I read from the article, he’s probably saying that he doesn’t love you like he used to because he can’t explain it any other way. The thing is, he doesn’t love ANYTHING the way he used to at this time. So, sadly you are included in his mix of emotions too. I think if he gets help, and is starting to feel like his old self again, his strong feelings for you are going to start to come back into the picture. Don’t take it personally, love. Everything will be ok. But, my advice, don’t cut ties and walk away, unless he still “doesn’t love you” after restoring his old self. He honestly is probably trying to protect you; he doesn’t want to “be the reason for your unhappiness” or “hold you back”, so in his mix of emotions, he breaks up with you because he DOES love you so much, not because he doesn’t. Chances are, that’s one of the hardest decisions he’s made in this whole journey. He’ll come back, or he won’t. But when whatever happens, happens, trust me, you will know what to do, and it is COMPLETELY up to you, not your family, friends, or anyone else, girl, Just think about it. Best of luck. <3


Loved your advice , it help My a bit in my situation … although mine is a similar as hers might be a bit more complicated. Thank you


Hey. Nice article.

I wanted to know what if you hurt them and something you did is the reason of them feeling hurt and broken? You really want to be with them. How do you deal with that situation given that you’ve accepted your mistake, told everything honestly and are ready to make it up for it always?



Thank you so much for this article Karen! I have been clinically depressed before so I know what it feels like. Thankfully, I have had my depression under control for almost 20 years. Now my partner is having a severe depressive episode, his first bout of depression ever, and I am trying mightily to help him through this.

This article is so helpful to me. I know from experience that a person can’t just decide to not be depressed, but at the same time I want to encourage any behavior that will help him. I also need to know when to stop trying and what limits I can place on him, especially with the constant negative talk that is making ME depressed! So thanks for such a thoughtful, helpful article!


I was with a girl with depression, recently it has kicked up badly and she has decided she can’t be with me “right now” iv tried my hardest to be there for her and it’s not worked, she has completely shut me off overthe space of a week and told me contacting her makes it worse, am I best to just respect that

Karen - Hey Sigmund

If she is not in a space to be with you, there isn’t much choice but to respect that. If you want to, let her know that you will be there for her when she is ready – a type of no-pressure support. I know how difficult it is when someone you care about shuts you out. Don’t forget to take care of you too.


I am married to my husband of 17 years. we had been happily married , or so I was to be aware … I found out my hubby was having an affair this year – 3 months ago. my husband around the time of me finding out also disclosed he had been abused as a child and this is why he lied and kept secrets . he has had councelling for this – approx 7 sessions and councellor ended thrm due to personal issues. we have now decided to start couple councelling and have had three sessions. My husband also lost his mum last year so all three issues seemed to have spiralled into one and he is withdrawn . I have ‘ let go ‘ of the affair and I’m coming to terms with this , but my main issue which I’m finding really realky hard is the fact that my Huby does not show me any love or affection . I have been told he has withdrawn himself and he is depressed . both councellors have said this . I have been told to hang on in there and that it’s not me that my hubby is upset with. it’s just that’s he’s withdrawn . please advise how I deal with this . it is hurting me so bad that I really don’t know what to do.. how long am I expected to wait ? … are there any things I can do to help. he says he thinks he wants me in his life . he says it’s ‘ everything ‘ that’s got to hI’m ( all 3 things) and he is still getting councellingerie but as the other half I really don’t know how to deal with the withdrawal and be neglected in love and attention. is this a normal symptom ?

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Sarah this sounds like a lonely experience for you right now. To answer your question, withdrawal from people and from everything generally is a very normal symptom of depression. It’s painful for the ones who are depressed, and also for the ones who love them. You mention you have been happily married for 17 years, though things seem to have changed recently. Hang on to that. There is no rule about how long the withdrawal lasts or how long you should wait. You will have waited for long enough when you feel as though you have. When you feel as though things aren’t going to move forward, or that you have no fight left in you for this relationship. All relationships go through make it or break it points – I really believe that. This is an opportunity to rebuild the relationship in a way that both of you can get more of what you need within the relationship.

If your husband is motivated to work through his issues, and to become strong again and to be good for you, then that is a great start. I know that it is a painful, lonely road, and there might be times you feel desperately angry, sad and confused. All of these things are completely okay for you to feel. If you want to know how best to support your husband, ask him what this looks like for him. What does he need from you? On a side note, it’s important to know that the affair is over. There is absolutely no point in even trying to rebuild your relationship if your husband is still seeing the woman he had the affair with. There is no easy way through this. I wish there was, but sometimes the only way through is straight through the middle. Make sure that in all of this, your feelings are also heard and validated. You have been through a trauma of your own, in finding out about the affair. As your husband works on himself and on getting better, don’t forget to take care of you.


I have been with my boyfriend for six years,and recently he has been diagnosed with depression. Before the symptoms started he was a fun loving man who did everything and loved spending time with me. When we first noticed the symptoms he would lay in bed till he had to go to work and them come home and play video games all night and not be social to me or sometimes his family. When he was dioing things with his family he would not being me along or say i forgot to tell you. He is on meds and seeing a counsler, but he still states he needs a break to figure out what he wants and where our relationship is going. I have written a letter to state that I respect the space he needs. We lived together and when he asked for the break in early November I moved back in with my parents. Earlier I was pushing for him to open up to me. All I want to know now should I give him the letter when I go and pick up the rest of my things and how should I handle it from there let him make the moves on contacting me when he is ready. I am really confused I am at school studying to be a therapist and I know that I can’t treat him like a client but what should I do. Please give me insight. I am a nervous wreak.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Megan the reason you are confused is because this is a confusing situation. It sounds as though your boyfriend doesn’t know what he wants, which makes it difficult for you to know what to do. One of the main symptoms of depression is withdrawal, so the more you push him to open up to you, the more he may feel the need to withdraw from that. This is what makes depression such a difficult thing to deal with for loved ones. It sounds as though you are guessing what he needs from you, so ask him. Does he want you to wait? Does he want a couple of months? Weeks? Does he still see a future with you? He may not know himself, and that’s okay. Let him know that you love him, and that you want to work through this with him – if that’s what you feel. Give him ‘no pressure’ support, but remember that you also have needs and that it is important that at some point, those are also taken care of.


I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 years now. He’s the best person I’ve ever met and we’re both in college and university. About 2 months ago, I could tell something was wrong. He was being distant, wasn’t answering many of texts, and wasn’t always present whenever we were communicating. He finally told me how he thinks he’s depressed. He’s been depressed before and he’s told me about his passed when we first got together. He told me why he’s depressed and I thought in the beginning that it was because of me. I would call him 11 times in a row and he wouldn’t answer, I’d send him 5 texts and he wouldn’t answer. So I thought that him being distant was his way of pushing me away and out of his life. He never told me those things, I thought them up myself because I didn’t know what else to think. I then began to talk to a counsellor. I told her how at times my boyfriend would talk to me one week and would barely reach out to me the next and I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that he’d have good days and bad days and that he still loves me, it’s just hard to cope with because it’s still happening. Since speaking to my counsellor, I’ve been much better at how I feel towards the situation. I haven’t been as anxious as I was about what my boyfriend’s doing when he wouldn’t text me. But I want to understand what he’s thinking and I want to help him more than anything but he hasn’t been talking to me about his depression. The last time we talked about it was probably over a month ago. And when I brought up to him how his flip flopping between talking to me and not talking to me bothered me and I asked him what was going on with that, he told me how I know why it’s happening. He’s more on the quieter side when it comes to talking about his feelings, which is why it took a little bit for him to finally come out and tell me that he’s depressed. Sometimes I think that he thinks that I’ll always know why he’s doing things or acting a certain way, but I really have no clue. And I don’t know how to tell him to tell me how he’s feeling so I’m aware and can accommodate to him in anyway that I can. I would love to hear back from you because even though I’m seeing a counsellor about this, the more advice I can get, the better.


I have been looking for real articles about depression for the last several years. We have been dating for almost 3 years and I didn’t know about his depression until the last year and a half. I started researching to understand his struggle. I have made the commitment on staying committed to him and being unconditional. But it is hard. Your article has helped me so much to understand what they are going through. It has been a very hard struggle for me also. I know he wants children, but he is worried that his condition is hereditary. Any new insight or even repetitive information is always welcome. My largest struggle right now is he doesn’t always communicate his plans and he makes decisions without touching basis with me. And sometimes his decisions will make his depression worse. And I have to make new positive attack plans. It is super tough on family members. But if you love them… we support them.


Hello. What a wonderful article. One of the best I read about relating with a depressed person, thank you! I am building a relationship with someone who has lived with depression their entire lifetime. I know I am able of understanding their world and a lot of what I read here I intuitively already apply. The reason, though, I am commenting here is because I have GAD and I can feel it can make me trip and ruin everything – would me entirely my fault. GAD gets in the way of everything and blurs my ability to understand and be who I need to be in the relationship. I haven’t found yet anything that could enlighten me regarding relationships between a depressed person and a person with GAD – if there is any input here I’ll appreciate a lot.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Every relationship has its challenges, and yours is strengthened by your curiosity and your openness to understanding. Communication is key, as it is in any relationship. GAD comes with its own challenges, as you would know, but it also comes with great strengths, including a great sensitivity to other people, a generous heart, and strength. We all need reassurance and security in a relationship, and depression and GAD don’t change this. Stay tuned in to each other and check out anything that doesn’t feel right – it may well be the work of an anxious mind. Here are a couple of articles that might be helfpul for you to chat about with your partner in relation to anxiety (if you haven’t already read them):

>> When Someone You Love Has Anxiety http://www.heysigmund.com/when-someone-you-love-has-anxiety/
>> The Things I’ve Learned About Anxiety – That Only People With Anxiety Could Teach Me http://www.heysigmund.com/the-things-ive-learned-about-anxiety-that-only-people-with-anxiety-could-teach-me/
>> Anxiety and Relationships – How to Stop it Stealing the Magic http://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-and-intimate-relationships-how-to-stop-anxiety-from-stealing-the-magic/


This article brings me great relief…
All I needed to hear was “it’s okay to get frustrated yourself”.
I get exasperated when nothing goes right for so long. And even when it goes right and nothing seems to change. It’s a process…And I’m allowed to be exhausted, too.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Rachel I’m so pleased this article has been able to bring you some comfort. And yes – you are allowed to be exhausted, frustrated, angry, sad, confused … whatever it is that you feel is okay. You are not a machine and it’s okay to feel whatever you feel. If you are being the supportive one, it’s also important that you have someone you are able to lean on. We all need that from time to time.


My best friend has been suffering from depression for a while now, I feel so helpless and afraid that I’m losing her. I tell her that I’m here for her and will always be but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Not sure what I can do?

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Try some of the strategies in the article. The main thing is not to take anything personally. One of the awful things about depression are the feelings of helplessness it brings to people – the ones who actually have the illness and the ones who love them. Remember that it is an illness though, and it’s not a choice. Keep doing what you’re doing and if your friend doesn’t want to talk about it, that’s okay. Often it’s so hard to find the words to describe the feelings that come with depression. She’s very lucky to have you in her life.

Raz P

My wife is suffering from depression. I don’t know what to say to her, sometimes she is ok sometimes she is really angry and I end up fueling her anger.
When she is ok I just don’t know how to act around her or what to say, I let her say things first, as when I’ve initiated a conversation first, she has become angry or just said she doesn’t want to talk.
It feels like a no win situation, and one that could end up making us separate.

Karen - Hey Sigmund

I’m sorry you are going through this, and I’m sorry your wife is struggling with depression. I know it’s difficult, but try not to take this personally. It sounds as though you are fighting hard for her and your relationship. Depression can make the world confusing for everyone it touches – the people who have it and the people who love them. Strength and healing to you both.


I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 years now. He’s the best person I’ve ever met and we’re both in college and university. About 2 months ago, I could tell something was wrong. He was being distant, wasn’t answering many of texts, and wasn’t always present whenever we were communicating. He finally told me how he thinks he’s depressed. He’s been depressed before and he’s told me about his passed when we first got together. He told me why he’s depressed and I thought in the beginning that it was because of me. I would call him 11 times in a row and he wouldn’t answer, I’d send him 5 texts and he wouldn’t answer. So I thought that him being distant was his way of pushing me away and out of his life. He never told me those things, I thought them up myself because I didn’t know what else to think. I then began to talk to a counsellor. I told her how at times my boyfriend would talk to me one week and would barely reach out to me the next and I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that he’d have good days and bad days and that he still loves me, it’s just hard to cope with because it’s still happening. Since speaking to my counsellor, I’ve been much better at how I feel towards the situation. I haven’t been as anxious as I was about what my boyfriend’s doing when he wouldn’t text me. But I want to understand what he’s thinking and I want to help him more than anything but he hasn’t been talking to me about his depression. The last time we talked about it was probably over a month ago. And when I brought up to him how his flip flopping between talking to me and not talking to me bothered me and I asked him what was going on with that, he told me how I know why it’s happening. He’s more on the quieter side when it comes to talking about his feelings, which is why it took a little bit for him to finally come out and tell me that he’s depressed. Sometimes I think that he thinks that I’ll always know why he’s doing things or acting a certain way, but I really have no clue. And I don’t know how to tell him to tell me how he’s feeling so I’m aware and can accommodate to him in anyway that I can. I would love to hear back from you because even though I’m seeing a counsellor about this, the more advice I can get, the better.


I’ve been in the same situation for quite a while now, my boyfriend suffered from depression and it really affects our relationship. As time goes by it get worse that he keeps ignoring me for weeks, I was always be the one to reach out for him and if I said that I want to break up with him he always say no and keeps on reminding me that he still do loves me but because of his actions I’m doubting it already. I said I understand his situation and I’m always here for him he was thankful for that but there were times that if something went wrong we go back again with the same situation. And now its been weeks again of not talking to each other, I really don’t know what to do right now I’m so confused, he was my first love and I want him to be my last I really do love him that is why I always go back to him and always choose to stay. And now I want to know if what is the best way to approach him again. I’m badly need an answer now.


My husband and I have been married for almost 23 years and together for 25. He has had bouts of what I considered depression several times throughout our marriage, one leading to an affair. It seems like he comes out of the haze eventually and we continue on almost better than before but inevitably it returns to rear it’s ugly head. When it does I can feel instantly feel him pulling away emotionally but so much so that if feels physical. My heart hurts for him because he has said he doesn’t know why he’s unhappy and feels empty. He says he needs to escape so he fills his time with working out, sports or any kind of physical activity to make him feel better but in the process he pushes me away. Last month he told me that he’s unhappy, no longer loves me and had to leave. He moved out 3 weeks ago. It hurts but he’s said and done it before so I take it with a grain of salt. The pattern is he comes out of the haze and later regrets what he said and that he’s hurt me. The problem is I am emotionally exhausted. Each time I wonder if he will get through it and how long will it take this time. My self-esteem takes a blow every time and I wonder if I’m being strong or pathetic. After the affair he did seek help but only went two times, took a mild anti-depressant and then said he was fine. He never went back and never took the medicine again. I have asked but we have never made it to marriage counseling. He needs professional help…I think. I asked him to talk with a therapist again, not for me but for him, to figure out what exactly the real issue is. I told him I didn’t think they could fix it but they might find out where it stems from so he can learn coping mechanisms. I told him that when he can see a little more clearly that we would need to consider marriage counseling if this was ever going to work out but when he’s like this, he has no desire to work our marriage out. I think I’m at a crossroads. Do I hold on again and hope ‘my’ husband comes back or do I finally accept that he isn’t happy and may never be. There are days I just want to let go but I feel like he’s in there somewhere. So…even though I’m exhausted and everyone says I shouldn’t, I continue to hold on. I’m just really tired. I pray for everyone dealing with any kind of depression or anxiety…it’s a monster.


Hi Karen,

Thank you for the article.

My partner suffers from depression and has told me that he wanted to part ways only a week ago. He cited personalities, many outside forces and timing as being the reasons and I have told him that I respect his decision and will always support him, given he was there for me when I really needed him to be. I was diagnosed with anxiety mid last year and he was incredible. I could never ask for a better support structure than what he provided. I am forever in his debt. For the record, with meds and counselling, I managed to get my anxiety under control within a few months and have returned to work and not really had any issues since.

It was when I realised there was a bit more going on with him that I understood he was fighting an internal battle of his own, but for fear of making it hard for my recovery, he kept it to himself. When I finally got it out of him, I realised just how hard it had hit him.

The thing is, there wasn’t really anything major that caused a rift between us as such. For me, I will fight forever for him because the only time he ever thought that we were not compatible was when he was feeling incredibly low. It seemed that there wasn’t a great deal that I could do to stop this from happening and that it was probably going to happen at some other point. He would often read into things far more than was intended and come to some really strange conclusions to things I said that certainly was not intended. Essentially, if something could be twisted into a negative, no matter how warped, he managed to do it.

He told me it was best for both of us to part ways but when I told him that I would always be there for him, he told me he just wanted me to be happy and that I didn’t know what would happen because he’d been in the same position (but with his ex) before. He also told me that I might meet someone but made no mention of the fact that he might meet someone too. In talking with some friends, it was like he was trying to convince himself it would not work and was wanting me to move on and forget about him.

I told him that I will forever be in his debt, that I will never forget him because of everything he did for me and that I will always have time for him, to which he seemed to be really unsure how to take that. He was thankful but I know he really struggles to accept compliments.

After being silent on social media for weeks, he changed his profile picture today. To me, he looked defeated and it tore at me. I didn’t know whether to but I messaged him very briefly and told him that I was still there and that I had faith in him. I don’t know what else to do, but wondered whether even that was the right thing.

I already spoke about this to friends and my psychologist and they all said that I need to concentrate on me but that I should make it known that I’m still there, like every now and then just touch base.

I guess I’m just seeing whether others have quite been in this position (that they have broken up with their partners and why) and what they have been able to do. It really bothers me that he cited personality as a reason when we have so much in common and can talk for hours but whenever we had a disagreement we could talk it out and come out the other side. This last time he felt he let me down with something and it seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. There didn’t appear to be anything I could say to make him feel better and he kept withdrawing (not just from me but from everyone) further into himself.

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts.


To start off I would like to say thank you for writing the article it put me at somewhat at peace just like several other articles I have read. I would like to tell you a little bit and small details on my situation and hope to hear some feedback from anyone. I’ve been seeing someone for four years he comes in and out of my life every year at the same time/months and leaves at the same time/months. Every time he would leave especially the first 2 to 3 years he would just pack up his stuff and leave. He always said I love you never denied it but did always say he needs to find himself before he can move forward and that he needs to take care of him before taking care of anyone else and he means me and my two children. I never understood why he would plan a future we would live together and then get up and go. As a woman the first thing I thought was he is doing me wrong but I could never bust him in any type of way not through his phone not through his Texts and not through his three social media’s. I always said this guys too good to be true but every time he would get his things and leave my house and never contact me within 3 to 4 months I always thought he was with someone. When 3 to 4 months would come out of nowhere he start contacting me wanting me back being persistent about it. Even the times that he did leave and during the times that we are together within the years I feel his love and deep down I knew he wasn’t doing me wrong but I couldn’t figure it out what was going on why he acts the way he acts. All that being said he left again three weeks ago, when he does leave he never communicates with me for three months to four months so right now I’m not expecting any contact until then. This time around he started using the word depressed a lot in my head I thought you’re just using this as an excuse. So what I did, I started looking into depression and researching a little bit and reading a lot of articles . He has never told me that he has depression nor has ever had any help I’ve never seen him take medication of any type. And to be honest I don’t know much about his childhood/nor family because he likes to be private. I’ve never met any of his family in these for years and they know of me and about us but never met them. As I was researching about depression I myself came to the conclusion that he has clinical depression or seasonal depression. Every symptom listed in these articles/websites he has. I’ve been used to him coming in and out of my life for these past four years and every time he does get up and go I never contact him I let him be and I wait until he comes back after 3 to 4 months and mind you again the only reason I did not contact him was because I thought he was doing me wrong. This time I know now why he acts the way he acts and does what he does as far as emotionally physically and mentally. He is able to communicate with the world go to work, take responsibilities as far as financially But when it came to us out of nowhere he no longer wanted to be intimate, no loving,everything bother him, backaches, stomach aches, headaches, durability,relentless, guilt,can’t sleep, gain 15 pounds in two months & etc… One good thing is that I’ve never heard him talk about suicide and I know that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cross his mind from what I’ve read in these articles and that too is a scary thought not knowing. i’m so used to never communicating with him when he gets up and takes off to live on his own for these past 3 to 4 months, and again I never did because I always thought he was doing me wrong. But now that I know in my gut and in my heart that he has depression my question is do “I stay away like I did all these other years until he is ready to come back”???? And again he’s never been diagnosed by anyone he mentioned one time he went to counseling and from what I remember it only lasted but two weeks and I also have a feeling he lied to the counselor just as he lies to his pastor, telling his pastor that all we do is argue and that we have a lot of issues and he can’t handle it anymore and that’s why he got up and left this time. Nothing he says is true from what I know we were doing great. Sorry this is so long but it felt so right to do. I would love to hear someone’s input. Thank you


First and foremost I would like to say thank you for writing your article it has helped with my own research when it comes to depression. I have been reading a lot of articles and reading a book called fallout depression it has to do with couples living with a depressed person. From all the articles that I’ve read I’ve never commented this will be my first time.
I really don’t know what I’m doing on here or how to express myself on here so that I don’t write a novel of my own on this page regarding my relationship with my boyfriend Who I believe suffers from two types of depression. He’s never been diagnosed and a year ago he told me he was seeing a counselor but just to talk about his family he never gave me any details but from my knowledge that only took at least two weeks and to be honest I think he lied about it for I never went with him nor saw proof of it and when he did say he went to see a counselor him and I were broken up so who knows.
I have been with him for four years the past three years he has been in and out of my life and for only periods of time of 4 to 6 months. During those three years I thought he was doing me wrong with someone I felt as if he had two women and to be honest my woman intuition told me that wasn’t the case but I could never figure out why he would act certain ways but that all changed about a month Ago. He started getting into his moods and started using the word depression a lot this time,I thought to myself “here we go again with the same pattern as last time” finally after him using that word depression several times I decided to research on it because someone like me would only think it’s only sadness for a day or two but I was surprised/shocked on what I read although my research was too late because he already had set his mind to move out and he did 3 weeks ago.When he does leave we do not communicate whatsoever within that period of time of 3to4 months. Every time he wants to end the relationship he would always have good excuses to end it,i always thought he was just copping out of the relationship to be with someone else. Every time he would come back around after 3 1/2 months to rekindle our relationship it would be around the months of May late April and the times that he ends The relationship it’s around holidays , Mid October to mid January, mind you this is every year for the past four years. He just did it again three weeks ago. Because of his patterns of actions and the research that I have done I say he has seasonal depression but I also think he has clinical depression as well. He knows what he wants when we are doing fine ,he wants a future, he wanted to get married ,he wants a house ETC. BUT when his irritability, sadness, anxious,Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness,
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex, Decreased energy, fatigue,
Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
Trouble sleeping, Weight gaining,
Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. He no longer wants a future he would say I love you but only if I said it first, he never said he didn’t love me on the contrary he would say it but I would have to be the one to say it first , He would always be the first to tell me I love you or to Text it but that changed too. I’m just desperate for peace and not sure what kind of peace maybe on what should I do,im so used to not communicating within the 3 to 4 months but now that I truly know what’s wrong with him, do I reach out to him?? Again desperate for answers… my research on depression has answered a lot of my questions when it comes to him in and out of my life his mood swings and his actions but tell me why this time I am more emotional and hurting but when I thought he was doing me wrong the past three years I wasn’t so emotional… everything is just a confusion… help please

Karen - Hey Sigmund

Depression can make people want to withdraw, but there are many ways to manage depression that can really help with easing the symptoms. Many of us are driven to do things, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily do them. Your boyfriend might be driven to leave you for a few months at a time, but that doesn’t mean he has to act on it. Is he doing anything to help himself manage the symptoms? Has he spoken with doctors or psychologists? Has he taken responsibility for getting himself to a point where he doesn’t hurt you with these absences? It’s important to be clear about what parts are depression, and what parts are a lack of commitment to the relationship. Even if depression makes him want to pull away from the relationship and find his own space, there is surely an expectation within your relationship that if he wants the relationship to be there when he feels strong again, that he stay in some sort of contact during his physical withdrawal from the relationship. Be careful not to confuse depression with a lack of regard for you.


I am in a relationship that seems impossible to keep alive. He is not the same he was when we first started out. He is more distant and seems uninterested in me. I feel like I am not important to him even though he tells me he loves me. He has a kid and cheated on me with the mom. As a result I lost trust and we went on break. He still wants to be with me and constantly tells me this. Howevor it feels as if he has faded away when we are texting. I have bad anxiety, which also gets in the way. I do not know what to do anymore. I want this to work but I do not feel valued. I have conversations with him about it but he always seems to turn it around and say that he does nothing right. This is his excuse everytime so its hard to express how I feel to him. Im so lost and broken I dont know what I should do anymore. Expressing myself to him seems to make it worse and make it look like im the bad guy.


I have been dating this guy for about six months and I think that he’s suffering from depression but is in denial about it. Initially we connected really well and was able to communicate on a deeper level. He had some problems in the past, after his Best Friend passed away, he lost his job, had bell palsy, couldn’t find a job for couple of years and just gotten divorced. He’s now jobless and despite my encouragement, he isn’t really looking for another job. He sleeps odd hours. I am really worried about him and doesn’t really know how else I can support him. If you have any advice that would be wonderful. I am just about to be sent overseas for my career and I am really lost about what I could do to help him . Thank you

Karen - Hey Sigmund

If you can keep the lines of communication with him open, that would be a great thing. There isn’t much you can do until he is ready to reach for help himself. Before you leave for overseas, see if you can encourage him to come for walks with you or to do some form of exercise with you. Exercise can help to protect and strengthen the brain in ways that are great for mental health.


My girlfriend is going through depression and this article just helped me a bit but what I’m wondering is how do I keep myself from losing my mind… I’m very impatient and I feel like I’ve lost her. And sometimes the way she blocks me out or doesn’t talk to me for a day or two straight makes me really angry and confused and sometimes I just want to leave… I could never leave, I love her too much… but I feel like my heart being shattered into a million pieces because I miss her so much… I just feel like I need to stay strong for her and not being myself down but at the same time I feel like it’s dragging me down as well and idk how not to feel that way…


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