Although these are not all cases, there are many couples where the deterioration of the relationship is caused by individual problems, which are projected or reflected in the relationship. It is often a mental disorder (anxiety, phobias, pathological jealousy, etc…) that is triggering the problems.
Today we are going to talk about a psychological problem that is usually very well camouflaged but that greatly deteriorates the relationship of the couple: depression. We will give you clues to recognize the signs who is depressed and the keys to help them.
The Vicious Circle Of Depression
Although couples problems can increase depressive symptoms these are not usually the only cause, depression is of a multi-factorial cause (thought patterns, habits, neurobiological alterations, risk factors, stressful events, social problems, etc…), it is not caused by a single event, do not blame yourself as it is useless.
- I’m depressed – > discouraging the couple–> the relationship gets worse –> I get more depressed, or the other way around;
- The couple goes wrong – > increases my depression – > further worsens the relationship.
The idea is that whatever the origin, the important thing is to interrupt the pattern. The pattern is interrupted by offering help and treatment to the depressed person and educating the partner to know how to handle the situation.
Symptoms of depression in the partner
- He has trouble concentrating on conversations.
- He’s always tired or doesn’t want to do anything.
- It is more indecisive.
- Each time is more irritable.
- He’s more distant or wants to be more alone.
- He enjoys the activities he used to like less or less.
- You feel that it no longer connects with you (on an emotional level, for example).
- No smiles or laughs and avoids eye contact.
- Sometimes it’s like I’m not there for you. Absence.
- He is quickly frustrated, resentful.
- He has lost interest in sex.
- His appetite has changed.
- He often seems sad or you see him crying.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Weight lost changes.
As you can see, these symptoms are very similar to those shown by a person who is no longer in love or has no interest in the relationship. And this is usually the conclusion reached by the other part of the couple.
While this may be the case, there are decisive symptoms such as behavior with others (not just the couple), changes in habits, sadness and hopelessness, social withdrawal, tiredness, etc… that will give us the key that there is something else and it is not disinterest or disaffection that we are living.
How to help your depressed partner?
- Don’t wait for things to get worse. The sooner the problem is addressed the better. Depression won’t go away on its own.
- Talk to him/her. Show her your concern from affection, which is changed, does not act like him/herself. Ask him how he feels or what happens to him (they don’t want to talk about it very often). Tell him that you’ll be there when he’s ready to talk, that he’s not alone, that you love him and that you want to help him get better. That is not necessarily always the case, that things can improve. you support him and you’ll be by his side no matter what. there are people who can help you. Offer to accompany him if he goes to the psychologist.
- Really listen him/her. When he talk to you, don’t interrupt him or criticize him, don’t try to offer a solution or take away. Automatic positivism doesn’t help either. Let him vent, let him talk what he wants. Listen without judging, without asking a thousand questions. Respect his rhythm. Listen to him putting you in his place, empathically. Make sure your body language is friendly and warm, nodded, reflects that you listen to him and follow him. To start the conversation you can start with something that worries you, that turns your head? You want to talk about something? I’m here to help you and listen to you, so you don’t have to go through that alone. That’s why we’re a couple and I love you.
- Be open to feedback. Maybe part of the problem is with you, wanting more space or something you do bothers him. Be open to it and let it know, that you also want to hear it so that you can change it and help it.
- Encourage him to seek help. Inform him that his problem can improve, that there are people who can help. Whether it’s individual therapy or couples therapy, any help will be positive. It normalizes the idea of therapy, which doesn’t seem like anything strange. If you don’t get him to go to a psychology professional, maybe you can get him to go to doctor and tell him about the problem. Sometimes if one is good at it, it helps to make them believe that the idea is theirs, to guide them a little until they themselves conclude that they should go to a psychologist. If you don’t know how to convince him or her, you can talk to a professional about how best to propose treatment. Have a plan when you’re ready, you can find the therapist and offer two possible appointments for him to choose from instead of giving him a choice whether to go or not.
- Show him Your Love. Yeah, a little more than usual, but nothing that’s extremely strange. Write to him during the day, leave him a note, do some homework you know he hates to do, be more affectionate (if the person is receptive to it, there are depressants that avoid it), tell him what you like about him/her, how much you love him.
- Remember, you don’t get out of depression overnight. Don’t blame him for feeling like this or not getting better, that will only make the situation worse. Depression is curable but it takes time, one doesn’t heal in two days. Each person carries his own rhythm. Don’t get frustrated or blame him. He understands that he/she doesn’t want to be like this either and he/she didn’t choose to feel like this. Remember that it is depression that behaves that way and that has those thoughts. Focus it from the point of view of disease. Try not to take things personally and be very patient.
- Support him during recovery. If depression is affecting the partner, the partner may be included in the treatment, involving the partner in the tasks and aspects to work and educating her to know how to help her partner. But remember (and accept) that you cannot cure him.
- Look for information about it. The more you know about depression, the better you’ll understand what’s going on. Books, articles, support groups, find information to help you understand what happens to your partner.
- Don’t leave yourself out of it. You should support your partner, yes, but it’s not your job to cure him. Keep healthy boundaries, don’t neglect your health to improve each other’s well-being. Being with a depressive person is very demanding and emotionally exhausting. Take care and have time for yourself. Don’t neglect your life.
- Take suicide seriously. If the subject comes up, don’t ignore it, we already talked about the myths of suicide and one of them is that talking about it makes it more likely, it is certainly the opposite. Ask him questions about the degree of risk: do you have a specific plan? Have you thought about how you’d do it? never leave him alone if there’s a risk of suicide. If necessary you should contact the emergency services or take yourself to the hospital to assess your risk (this is necessary if there are a plan, intention, and Means). Other signs to observe are, for example, if you have said goodbye to people or donated your things.