Where the Science of Psychology Meets the Art of Being Human

When Someone You Love Has Depression

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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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197 Comments

Tereza

Hi, great article, and so true. But what when you know why you are depressed (see point 7 ) and what you need, but people are not takeing you seriously? How do you get yourself heard? How long do you try before you say :” I see you dont realy care about me. Please dont contact me until I contact you (if ever)” ?

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Hey Sigmund

Hi Tereza – thank you for your comment. It sounds as though you are with people who aren’t able to give you what you need. Not everyone will understand what you need or be willing to work with you to make the relationship better. They won’t necessarily hear you – you can’t change that – but what you can change is how you respond to that. It’s okay to want more for yourself – it’s important. It’s okay to act from a position of love and strength and pull back from a relationship that is hurting you when it feels right to do that. When you’ve felt enough pain, you’ll know, and then you’ll be able to do what you need to do. It’s possible to pull back from a relationship with love and respect for both people and sometimes that’s the thing that’s needed to feel better about moving away from someone. ‘I care about you / love you, but this relationship is hurting me/ not working for me. Perhaps it’s about the combination of us. For the moment I need to pull back,’ or whatever words are right for you. It’s about intent. Let you intention to withdraw from the relationship be about healing yourself, not hurting the other person. We all deserve to feel whole.

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Jack

A very touching and accurate collection of very useful suggestions and supports. Thanks so very much.

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Robin

Very good article. And very helpful as I now know that this might be what has been going on with myself thank you so much . As I thought I was going insane . Glad to know im not thank u

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Hannah Keegan

I have suffered from depression for a long time and I have never read anything that sums it up so beautifully, thankfully I am now out of it and can see depression in other people. It is not always obvious for loved ones to know what to do.
Thank you.

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Hey Sigmund

It sounds as though you have come through your depression with a wisdom that can only come from experience. I expect there will be people’s lives you change in some way for the better because of the way you can relate to what they are going through. You’re so right – it’s not always easy for people to know what to do, but thankfully there are people like you who are able to notice the signs and help people feel less alone.

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isabelle

hi Karen. Since 8 years I’m in depression after a Burn Out (I am nurse). What a surprise to read that people in depression are strong!!! You have put words on what I’m feel, but it’s not so easy because around me many people have a negative attitude and they don’t accept the fact that I’m depressiveand often I want to say to them ” I have to be strong to support what you think and what you say, I have to be strong to “continue”, I have to be strong to help others , etc etc”. but I’m not enough strong to speak!
thanks for your website
Isabelle

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Hey Sigmund

Hi Isabelle,
But you have spoken – you’ve spoken here and your words are strong, wise, insightful words. Your strength doesn’t change because of what other people think or because of what you say to certain people. I expect that inside you somewhere is a knowing that if you speak, you won’t be heard the way you need to anyway. Depression is still very misunderstood by many, but we are working towards changing that. Thank you for adding your voice here – your words are powerful.

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Thea

Great reading and very helpful In difficult situations
Who seem at times to be never ending.
Luckily after the storms the sunshine returns.
Thank you for your helping hand.
T.

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Stine Lomholt Hansen

So beautiful, caring, precise and useful. Thank you for giving words to how I felt during 2,5 years of severe, agitated depression. Thank you for giving light to the most painful condition a human can go through.

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Hey Sigmund

You’re so welcome. I understand how deeply painful depression can be. I hope you have been able to find comfort, and that the strength and light that is in you continues to grow.

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KB

My mother suffers from deep hurt and pain and I have tried my whole life to help her and relieve her. I identify that depression could be the root of the problem thanks to this article. The issue is that she hasn’t a diagnosis nor believes she needs help and also tries to make me and others change my life choices to align with hers believing that will solve her problem, pain and hurt. I am exhausted, and can no longer live my life being manipulated, put upon, or challenged about all my choices. I am approaching 50 yrs, I should not have to justify putting myself first if it feels right for me. I was wondering if you have any tips for dealing with someone with depression with this type of problem also and if there are any other articles. Thank you for your incredible website.

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Hey Sigmund

You sound as though you have been a wonderful support for your mother. One of the issues you’re dealing with in relation to her is that when the symptoms have been there a long time, they just feel normal for her, which is why she may be reluctant to get help. You certainly don’t have to keep justifying your decisions. People don’t have to like your decisions to make them good decisions, and it sounds as though your decisions are made in strength and clarity. All of the depression articles are under ‘Being Human’ in the menu bar, then click on ‘Depression’. Otherwise, if you use the search function in the top right hand corner and search ‘depression’, you’ll be able to find other articles. I wish you and your mother all the very best.

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Sharon

Thank you Karen for your wise insightful thought provoking words. I have been gripped by depression at different junctures of my life but it was only when I met someone who was brave to share their experiences that I began to be able to be vulnerable myself. I still get worn down but have been able to listen to others in needs.
Your response to Teresa is very poignant thank you

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Michael Lapointe

I had 2 ‘almighty fights’ with depression where it took months of one positive thought at a time to climb out of it.

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Diana

This is a good list. Sometimes people don’t know that the reason they are struggling is because they have depression. A list like this can help.

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tania

Hi. My loved husband has a bad depression and he told me that he is not sure about our relationship. At the moment he lives in a room on his working place. I know that since them he is just sleeping and working, he won’t hear and see nobody. I love him very much and I thought that it’s a form of respect if I give him the space the needs for himself. But now I’m not sure if all this time alone with his depression and without medication (he is against antidepressiva) is the right choice. But on the other hand I don’t wanna force him to come home if the doesn’t want it too. My therapist told me that I can’t do anything for him and that I have to leave him alone. But I’m very scary for himself so lonely and cut away from anything and anyone. This is the first helpful article I have found online that match for me as partner of a depressed person. But now I don’t know what to do to help him. Maybe you can help me?

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Hey Sigmund

Tania, I can hear how distressing this is for you. Your therapist is right – there isn’t much you can do for your husband if he does not want you to, but it is not healthy for him to be on his own. It is understandable why he would want to be – his depression will be taking away his energy to do anything differently – but it is not healthy. Keep letting him know that you are there and that you love him. If he is at all open to you, offer to go for walks with him when you can – exercise and company are important.

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Jenn

I just keep coming back to this article because I love it so much. I’m such a “fix it” by nature and this really challenged me to walk a different path of support for those I love that are experiencing depression. I quoted you an am linking back to this on an article I wrote about PPD. I hope that’s ok! I love your work so much.

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Hey Sigmund

Thanks so much Jenn! Of course I would love you to share the link to the article. If you would ever like to guest post here about PPD, please let me know – I’d love to have you.

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JT

Sigmund… Wow…
I’ve been telling myself for years that “depression isn’t real”, I’m just being weak, it’s all in my head, yada yada yada… You’ve heard it all. Reading this article finally convinced me that this is a real thing that I’m dealing with, and I’m not just being weak when I have a depression attack.
It comes out of nowhere, or is triggered by something seemingly entirely innocuous; it starts “randomly”, I get upset about something and I know is not something to be upset about, I get mad at myself for being upset about it, frustrated that I can’t control it and helpless for the same reason, I start to feel crazy because I feel like there’s something wrong with me, sad because nobody can/will sympathize, (let alone empathize), lonely because… Etc…
My girlfriend has been feeling helpless because she doesn’t know how to help; I tell her she doesn’t need to, I just want her by my side. This article is so astoundingly accurate that it feels like you’re putting my thoughts in writing, and it is everything I’ve wanted to tell Hanna.
Thank you so much for this; I genuinely can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words.

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Lor

I suffer from depression. My family doesn’t see it as a real sicknes. I have no one I can open up to except for my boyfriend. And I have ruined his life. He says he needs to heal too, and that we should have a break.

I don’t know what I can do in this life anymore. Anyone who tries to help me comes out as hurt or more as I am. Should I just suffer by myself?

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Hey Sigmund

No! You don’t have to do this by yourself. I completely understand how alone you must be feeling right now, but keeping fighting for you – don’t give up. Depression is a very real illness. Are you able to speak to a doctor or a counsellor? They will be able to set you on track to the right support. Here are some articles that talk about what depression is and ways to manage it http://www.heysigmund.com/category/being-human/depression/. You can beat this. Please reach out for support – professional if you need it. We all need a hand sometimes.

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Anne

Hi, this article has been really helpful, I have been with someone for a while very much in love and all of a sudden hid depression has taken over and has recently ended things with me. I need some advice on how I can be there for him I love him so much and honestly believe that we can be together either through this or after but I just dont know what to do in the meantime. No one else knows about what he is going through he said he doesnt want any contact with me but I really feel like he needs to talk to someone or at least have someone in his life aware of it but if I go behind his back he may never trust me again and make him more secretive. Does anyone have any advice at all please. Thanks

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Hey Sigmund

Anne, if you believe he might be at risk of hurting himself (or someone else), it is important that you do what you can to help him to get the support he needs. Depression can make people feel completely alone and the hopeless feelings that come with it can persuade people that nothing will make a difference. If you have no reason to believe that he will hurt himself or anyone else, I would respect his privacy on this but let him know that you are there for him. Let him know that if he just wants to sit with you that’s fine, and that he doesn’t need to talk. Try calling him once a week to let him know that you are there, but don’t take it personally if he doesn’t want to talk or return your calls. It might be helpful to let him know that you respect that he doesn’t want a relationship and that you won’t interpret time with you as a potential relationship, but that you know he is struggling and if he wants to chat or go for a walk or something with you from time to time, that might be good for both of you. Then, call him sometimes and see if he would like to do something, but of course make it clear that there will be no expectation attached to that.

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Anne

Thank you so much hopefully it will work in time and i just have to be patient. Thanks for talking the time to respond to me

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Marie

I am in a very similar situation only that an additional problem is that my boyfriend who withdrew from our relationship is living in a different country and therefore I can not just ask him to hang out to support him. We have decided to take a break. I didn’t want to, nothing had changed for me but I had no choice because before this he broke up with me impusively and when he came to visit me to talk about the situation I managed to show him there’s another way. He says he needs to heal first before thinking about coming back together again and it is really painful for me as he says he still cares for me and is sorry I have to go through this with him and that he is aware what a great person I am but that he has no energy for problems or fights in a relationship as he can’t even deal with the demons inside him. He also said he hopes the break will be the key to finding back together. However, he can’t promise anything and when I tell him I love him, he doesnt say it back, it seems to hurt him. I know it could probably take months or even up to one year before he gets better and with this distance it’s really difficult to stay attached and I am scared too much time will kill the feelings left but I really want to wait. He has left on a 3 week vacation that he told himself he needed to do for his birthday because he feels he has reached nothing in life. He asked for no contact during these three weeks and said he will call me when he’s back. He is currently taking antidepressants and going to therapy. How would you procede? Is it the best thing to give the depressed partner the space they are asking for or will it only worsen the depression because they are suddenly alone? Or does he know what he is talking about?

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Hey Sigmund

Marie it sounds as though your boyfriend knows how much you love him and that you are there if he needs you. It also sounds as though he is clear about his need for space for three weeks. It’s a good sign that he has put an end point on this and not made it indefinite. I really understand how difficult and painful it must be for you to pull back from contact while he takes his space. If he is taking antidepressants and going to therapy, this is a good sign – he is trying to get strong again. Unless you have a good reason to worry about his well-being, give him his space – it sounds important to him. As difficult as it is, if you do feel the need to make contact, it would be best to make sure you’re doing it more for him than for you. I can tell how much you care about him and miss him. Hopefully when he gets back he will have some clarity.

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Marie

Thank you for your quick response. I’m very grateful and really want to give him this space hoping it will help him move forward. But still, everyday I think of all the great moments we just had a couple of weeks ago and how happy I was before everything changed and it is hard to understand where all this has gone and that it is not supposed to exist anymore.? How can one cope with this? i find this is the most difficult thing and I am seeking therapy soon as I don’t think I will comprehend this by myself though I do feel kind of ashamed and ridiculous searching for help with this problem as I was simply “left” like my friends view it.

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Marie

Things have changed to the point that he has told me he can not be in a relationship because he is taking a high dosis of medication and almost having panick attacks almost every day. each of us now just needs to focus on themselves and trying to build back a relationship at the same time is not possible for him because it would be an additional problem in his life he can’t handle right now. he has said that it seems to him that I have hope we are almost back together. he has offered to meet but said we would meet as two friends and not as partners and it wouldn’t mean we are back together. and eventually we would see where it goes. but he doesn’t say that he also hopes we will get back together. so he asked me if I can take it lightly. of course I have hope because everything we had collapsed in an istant and all my feelings for him are still there. I feel this behaviour is pretty selfish. he doesn’t want me as a partner but he doesn’t want me to move on to be with anyone else in the future. it’s so difficult to understand because just a few months ago when we lived together he was able to be a boyfriend so how can he say now that he can’t anymore? I don’t know what to do. of course I want to be in his life but I don’t know if that’s really healthy for me and it seems he hopes I will always be this sure factor in his life. I’m starting to feel I need to draw back and get better myself again before I can meet him because keeping me hanging on like this makes it impossible to move on. or am I wrong and should be able to be his friend even with the possibility that we will never find our way back together? I’d be so grateful for some help.

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Larry

Hi

My partner and I have moved to the UK from Australia 6months ago so we could work and travel, We are both on working visas for two years. My partner has a serious of events that are bringing her down daily, she knows no one here (except for me and the people i know), she hates her job, she hates where we are living, one of her best mates commited suicide two months ago back home, she has on going family troubles with a younger sibling who is putting stress on the family. She is constantly crying and down all the time and wants to stay in bed! She has said a few times that she will just leave and go back home The whole objective of us coming here was for adventure, meet new friends and to see the world and when we are off doing that everything is great but when we come back to reality it all goes back to the dark thought patterns. I mention that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us working and living abroad. She doesnt want to bring new people into her life as she is afraid she will loose them, she went and seen a serious of doctors and a psychologist on Monday but all they are making her do is tick some boxes. She tells me she isnt suicidal but just exhausted, her confindence is gone i dont know what to do and im not going to give up on her! Any adive would be great.

Thanx for reading

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Hey Sigmund

You are doing exactly what you need to do. Don’t give up on her, listen to her and be there for her. I know how difficult it is to watch someone you love struggle day after day. It sounds as though she has had some big changes in her life and this might take some adjusting to. The work the doctors and psychologists are doing sounds like it is to get a clear idea of what might be happening for your partner. Don’t be disheartened or frustrated by the lack of action at the moment. It’s important to get a clear picture of what’s going on so they can, with your partner, come up with a way to best manage your partner’s symptoms. That might be therapy, medication, or lifestyle changes. Keep encouraging your partner to work with them and keep being there for her. You sound like a wonderful partner.

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Harleyquinn

It’s a very insightful article though you have missed one very vital aspect: what happens when that person you love that has depression pushes your thoughts, emotions and needs so far down that you yourself feel that your suffering from this terrible affliction. When they are not able to allow you to be there for them and they can not be there for you or see that your going through the hardest time in your life. You then have not only your own helplessness to battle through but theirs as well. When the love of your life ignores all aspects of that love because they are dealing with there own demons, how can you ever get through that and regain the happiness that is now only a distant memory

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Hey Sigmund

This is one of the awful things about depression. It can bring a loneliness to everyone – the person who has it and the ones who love them. The important thing is to try to be clear about what parts of your relationship are being driven by the depression. The person you love is still in there, but depression steals people for a while. I understand how difficult it is to feel as though you can’t reach the person you love. If your partner’s depression is severe, there may be a need for medication and professional support, if this isn’t happening already. Even this can be difficult because depression also brings a sense of hopelessness and ‘what’s the point’. Do what you can to stop from being dragged down – sleep, exercise, connecting with people you enjoy being with and doing things that you enjoy doing. Above all else, try to remember that the changes you are seeing are from an illness, not because the person you love has changed who they are. And know how important you are to them, even if they aren’t sure how to show it.

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V

Hey signing has been with my fellow 27yrs love him madly but 7months ago he had a break down think it was cummin on a few months before that, his mum died 4yrs ago and he never got past that also he changed jobs and his good friend committee suscide which he took badly, anyway when he started to act differently towards me I thought he was having an affair not wanted to be round me, staying away from me always at work, not wanting to go places with me so I accused him of this and asked him to leave, he always said he wasn’t having an affair but never said he was depressed either, I was so confused as we were great together always with each other and the kids and grandkids always going out don’t nag things, holidays etc but then he just changed said he loved me but not in love with me I was and am heartbroken, but then I read about depression and now relize it was what he’s going through but at first I didn’t know how to deal with it what to say or do cos whatever I said or done wasn’t right so I sometimes got angry with him, it has now like I say been nearly 7mths and I’m trying to reach out to him still and being careful what I say he’s far from better but not as bad as he was he’s had a bit of counciling but he said it makes him angry, he asks me how I am in myself but I’m to scared to tell him I feel lost alone hurt confused etc incase it drives him away so I just say I’m ok, how do I know if he wants me back how do I know if he still loves me sometimes things he’s says and tells the kids bout me I think he still does but then doubt sets in and I go down hill again I can’t take rejection I don’t want to hear he doesn’t care anymore, I’ve been praying for him to cum back he doesn’t txts me or phone it’s always me and he started drinking and doing drugs to numb his pain when he first left now ad far as I know he only drinks which is still not nice as he’s still numbing the pain his self instead of dealing with it the right way just don’t know what to do I feel like running away just travel for a while but worry he will think I’ve deserted him please what should I do I try to talk to my grown up children but it isn’t fair as they feel his lost so badly to. Thanks from val.

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Hey Sigmund

Val the only way to know is to ask. I understand you are afraid of being rejected, but knowing is always better than not knowing. At least once you know, either way, you can move forward. At the moment, it sounds as though you are stuck and that can be a painful place to be. Whatever happens, you’ll be okay, but end the pain of not knowing. All the best to you.

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stehanie

Hey Sigmund,
My partner and I were together for 1 year. This was 3 yrs ago now. All was wonderful. He had been separated from his wife for 2 years and I from my ex_ husband for 3. Everything was going well until his financial settlement with his wife. He changed. Could not see a future with me, and totally pushed me away. Wanted to be with his wife again though she had moved on.He phoned maybe once a month, then was diagnoised with depression. Now phones every day for the past few months. And wants me back in his life. I have read all the literature possible on depression and tried to help him as a friend. But, it hurts me like crazy to try and be objective after our past together as I still love and care for him like I did before. I don’t want to be someones second choice when all else fails, yet I feel compelled to be there for him. I don’t know what to do anymore.
This hurts so much.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Stephanie I absolutely agree with you – you don’t want to be someone’s second choice, if that’s what you are. The only person who can decide if being in his life is the right thing or not is you. f the relationship doesn’t feel right, then it’s not. The only person you are responsible for is yourself. If you want to be there for him and be a part of his life, that’s up to you, but make sure you’re doing this because it’s what you want and what feels right for you – not because you feel obliged. You don’t owe him anything at all, but you do owe yourself the opportunity for love and happiness.

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Natasha

Hey Sigmund, this article has been really helpful in giving me insight about how the right people should deal with me. Unfortunately, I’m the one going through all this and although I have people in my life that love me and care about me, they don’t know how to handle what I’m going through. My family and friends, most of those who are closest to me, either think I’m completely fine or know somethings up but aren’t in the loop because that’s the facade I put up. The only person who ever really sees my moods is my boyfriend, because when I’m moody, I don’t hide it from him. And I express all my negative thoughts and sadness to him. However, I think it’s taking a toll on him. He tries to comfort me in his own way, but it doesn’t help at all (The usual “do something about it”, “things will get better” “complaining won’t get you anywhere”, trying to compliment me to make me feel better kind of routine) and we both get more frustrated because I don’t feel better at all (sometimes worse) when he tries to comfort me, and that makes him feel inadequate. I’ve tried explaining to him that when I really need him, he isn’t really there and try to explain the kind of help I need, but it doesn’t seem to be working. He knows he can’t make me feel better, and it kills him. And seeing him feel bad because I’m just constantly negative kills me.

I’ve been thinking that maybe the only way out of this is to just bunch him up with the rest of my friends and family who I pretend to be happy in front of because I don’t want to hurt him anymore. I feel like a terrible person, and I know it’s affecting him. My mood swings, irritability, the fact that I absolutely abhor myself.. I know it’s affecting him. We’ve had so many fights about how he’s not providing the kind of support I need, and he’s clearly feeling really worthless because of it. Like, he “can’t even help his girlfriend feel better, what good is he” kind of worthless. And I feel so awful because I know it’s because I tried to express myself to him. So I’ve decided to just pretend I’m okay in front of him so he won’t have to suffer anymore.

But I’m afraid…is that the right thing to do? Is that.. how relationships are supposed to be? I do it with everyone else, but isn’t your partner supposed to be the most intimate person in your life? I don’t want to lie to him, but I don’t want to hurt him anymore.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

Natasha I can hear how confused you are at the moment. Depression is awful for the people who have it and for the people who love them. You’re right, your partner is meant to be someone you can be honest and open with, but the thing to remember is that your partner also needs to feel as though he is also supported and can be open and honest with you.

If you feel as though things are getting overwhelming for you, it would be worth speaking to a counsellor. As much as your partner loves you, there is a limit to how much we can do for the people we love. The emotional resources in a relationship aren’t endless, and if one person is doing all of the supporting for too long, it can start to feel lonely for them. Be honest and open with your partner, but also let him know that you are there for him too. Relationships will always struggle if there is too much focus on the negative. If this means that sometimes you put away your negative thoughts to be available for him, as he is for you, then that will really help to heal your relationship. There will be days where you will need more of the emotional resources in the relationship, but don’t forget that he will also want a break from the negativity and where he will want support of his own. It sounds as though you have a wonderful man there, and as though he knows how lucky he is to have you.

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MA

My fiance and I have been together for over 5 years now. I have come to the point where I understand that depression is like disease or chronic illness. I do my best to help him understand this as well and as of two years ago he started taking medication. What I struggle with the most is when he withdrawal from everything lasts more than a week. I don’t know how to get him back to work. I’ve tried baby steps like getting him out walking the dog or quick trips to the store. But then in the morning, after I have left for work, I get a text or a phone call telling me he just can’t do it. Unfortunately, I can’t support us on my income alone. I know if I could just get him back into his routine, he would improve. I’m simply unsure how to make this happen. Any guidance?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You sound like a wonderful support for your fiance. You are doing everything right. Depression is powerful and intrusive and sometimes it can be difficult to know what’s needed. Ask your partner when he is not overwhelmed by his depression what he thinks he needs from you. Alternatively, see if your fiance will speak to a counsellor with you. It’s important that the effect of the depression on you is also acknowledged.

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TW

Hey Sigmund,

This article has been extremely helpful to me since it validates some of the feelings I’ve had with a close friend suffering from depression.

Up until 3 months ago, my best friend (and former co-worker) and I used to get together a few times every month to grab a meal and catch up with each other. The last couple of get-togethers we had however, I noticed that she seemed to be angry and not happy to see me. It really struck me as odd because it was out of character and I thought she may have been upset with me. Not long after that, she started cancelling plans she initiated with me and rejected all my invitations to get together with her. I was really confused and hurt by this behavior.

I finally asked her if anything was wrong and she admitted she is depressed and having a tough time with her pending divorce. I was aware she was contemplating a divorce, and am saddened she is going through this difficult time.

When we used to work together, the close proximity made it easier for us to be there for each other when we were going through difficult times. Since we no longer work together, I feel helpless because my friend has pushed me away and has not wanted to see me. I am really struggling with this because we’ve always had a close, sisterly kind of friendship and at times I feel like I’ve lost my friend. She does contact me by text message on occasion and we have communicated that way, but it’s just not the same as seeing someone in person. I understand her behavior is the result of the depression and I shouldn’t take it personally, but I am human and am hurting because I really miss my friend. I guess all I can do at this point is continue to reach out to her and offer my support.

I hope and pray we can meet again in person one day soon. I am really at a loss right now.

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Lamar deloach

I have been through many things in my live, but at age 64, and my spouse and partner just walked out after nine years. The depression is having a huge effect on her physical well being, as well as her capacity to face each day. She is a beautiful person inside and out, but after two years of trying to be supportive and deal with her physical ailments, all the time knowing it was depression, she will not address her depression ,anxiety, or panic attacks. All which are very real. She moved back to a community she previously lived to recreate that feeling of safety and prior friendships she had. It was only an escape. Since June 10, when I packed her and moved her, only to be helpful, it has been a roller coaster for me. As I said, I am the enemy. I have backed away, but the greatest pain of all was reading a love letter she wrote to me 5 years ago, saying all of the love she had was mine forever. It has been very tough, but I have prayed for her daily. Her friends and family coddle her and been supportive of the great escape, not addressing the real problem. She even said to me she felt disabled. I am her best friend, but I tell her the truth and she hates that. Feels good just to vent a bit. Sorry
. Prayers are welcomed.

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MF

I was recently in touch with my ex girlfriend. She broke up with me quitting her job as it wasn’t the job she expected it to be. She later confirmed she had a history of depression: Despite me reassuring her that I would be there for and do whatever it took to make things work She pushed me away and broke of the relationship. We tried to remain friend but realised it was to painful.

About this time last year we came back into each others lives, we were supportive of one another through a difficult time in our lives.

Our friendship was going well and we even discussed going on holiday together and maybe getting back together, and then a parent was taken ill despite all my efforts to be supportive I was again cut from her life without and explanation. Blocked from all aspects of social media and phone calls.

I to. suffer from depression which I take medication for which has helped me a great deal. I love and care for this person a great deal and want to be there for them, but is the third time I have been pushed away by them and it hurts more than ever. I know that she will not speak to may of her friends and about this and will just brush them under the carpet: I just worry and care for this person.

I have tried to talk to friends about this but they are less than sympathetic as they feel that she really isn’t a nice person and warn me about how much hurt and upset she has caused me in the past.

I really don’t know what do anymore and feel at a total loss. Do I give up on someone I feel so much for and move on or do I stick it out and hope we can have reconcile our differences?

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

One of the most painful things is hanging on to something or someone who is trying to let go of us. There is a difference between giving up on someone and giving them the space they need or want. Love shouldn’t be too lonely or too painful.

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J

Hey,
my girlfriend suffers from depression and she constantly pushes me away. I told her that she’s the most amazing person in my life, I told her that I will not go away that she is not a burden for me but she said that she always feels guilty about what I do for her and that she is not able to give me the same “love” in return. But I told her that that is no problem for me I just want to be there for her, that I love her and there is nothing in the world what could change that. I guess she wants to break up with me because she’s feeling so guilty. But there is no need to. I love her, I give her space and time to think and she said it’s easier just to be on her own. Of course it is. But I love her, I want her to be part of my life. I feel so helpless and I don’t know how to deal with that. Do she really want me to go? I don’t want to, I can stand that. She’s beautiful, smart, funny most of the time. She is just great and I don’t wanna leave. Is there some advice you can give me? Sorry for my English I’m from an not English speaking country.

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Karen - Hey Sigmund

You sounds as though you have been really open and honest with your girlfriend and there isn’t much more you can do than that. Only she can tell you whether or not she really wants you to go. It sounds as though you have been really open and honest with her. Give her the space she is asking for, but put a time limit on it. Continuously getting pushed away by the person you care about just isn’t sustainable in a relationship. You sound like a beautifully supportive partner.

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