Coping with your partner’s depression can be a very difficult endeavor. It’s so hard to be going through all the ups and downs alongside with him. And when he’s down and overwhelmed you can’t help but have that impact you. And your day. Very likely your partner’s depression is leading to a lot more conflict. A lot less intimacy and connection. A strong sense of negativity in the relationship (and life) can be all encompassing.
You struggle to see your partner not having the motivation they once had. Being so hard on themselves (and on you!). Maybe it’s gotten so bad they are in bed so much more than they used to be. Irritability is much higher. Snappiness is inevitable. You don’t want to be their punching bag anymore. You are probably feeling pretty done with that. And you don’t want them to be in pain either.
Maybe your partner’s depression looks like this:
Right off the bat in the morning you get a snarky look. You think to yourself “what did I do now?” Your partner goes into a vent fest on how the bathroom is a mess and the towel is on the floor. You keep it all inside and think to yourself “yeah and you are helping, how..?” You can’t help but feel that yet again you are a punching bag.
Later that day, you ask him about how the job search is going. He snaps and says “it’s going. There’s nothing out there.” At this point you are just pretty done. You start going off on him pretty badly. You say things you really don’t mean. But you just had it all pent up inside of you.
He then comes to you and gives a small apology (in his own way) and you apologize as well. But you know it’s a matter of time until something else happens and you get into another blow up. You try to have a talk with him about his depression. About how it’s impacting you. He then gets defensive again. You want it to stop. You want brighter days.
Coping with your partner’s depression is a difficult process. You see how much it is impacting his or her life. And your life. It’s impacting your whole family. You end up feeling in a place of despair and helplessness. You’ve tried to problem solve with them. You’ve tried to help them feel better in so many different ways. Nothing seems to work.
And you end up feeling sad yourself sometimes. And angry. The truth is that it’s essential that you cope first and foremost. If you aren’t coping well you can find yourself getting sucked into your own depression.
Let’s get into how to cope with your partner’s depression:
Coping with your partner’s depression: How To One: Self-Care. Self-Care. Self-Care
The reality is that we need to take care of ourselves always. Not just when our partner has depression. But…. ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with the incredible stressor of your partner’s depression it is essential that self-care be a priority. What counts as self-care? Self-care varies from person to person. An important part of self-care is that it rejuvenates you. When you do it, it sends an internal message of “I matter.”
Some self-care practices that are really effective at soothing frustration and anxiety down are meditation, journaling, and exercising. When it comes to meditation, many people tell themselves something along the lines of “it’s not for me” or “that won’t work.” Or many times people say they’ve tried it before and it didn’t work. The reality is that meditation is a practice that takes time to experience the benefits. But if you do take the time to truly learn how to be present (or move in that direction) it can be a very strong coping tool!
Journaling is another big one. There is something about getting all that is on your mind onto paper that is really healing for the mind. It teaches you to not let it all cycle in there but to dissect it and get it out. And once it is out on paper it holds less space and ultimately the thoughts will have less power. Exercising is another very important self-care strategy to help you through difficult times (and all the time). Many times when you are feeling down or overwhelmed you don’t really feel like exercising. However, if you push yourself to do it ANYWAYS then there is a little chance you will regret it after the fact!
Our Simi Valley therapy practice and online therapy Los Angeles, we make sure to help you implement self-care into your daily life. We know the value that taking care of you has in your life. This will help you have the space to be the YOU you want to be with your partner and in your life.
Coping with your partner’s depression: How To Two: Take a break when you need
It’s really important to know when to take a break. In the midst of overwhelm and frustration or when a trigger happens that typically leads to a conflict it may be time to take a time out. This can give you that minute to check in with yourself and see how you want to move forward. The reality is that when we allow our emotions to lead our responses we often feel disappointed in how we handled things. Allowing yourself a minute to recoup can give you that extra space you need to better tolerate the situation.
Our team of therapists and psychologists in Simi Valley, Ca work with our clients on checking in with themselves in the moment and assessing for what they need, Oftentimes we miss internal signals or our “gut” for how to handle a situation in front of us. Giving more credit to our gut and increasing awareness of what we are feeling allows you to respond in ways that are typically more aligned with what you want.
Coping with your partner’s depression: How To Three: Practice self-talk that reduces personalizing your partner’s reactions
Too often we take things personally. We take so much to mean a message about ourselves that really doesn’t need to be. Even if something is directed at you. Or said about you. Even something mean. We need to know when to recognize what it’s really about and not take in what we don’t need to take in. In other words, your partner says something in the midst of anger. Do you think it is really what he was meaning to say? Maybe you can talk yourself through it in the moment differently so that you don’t take it in so strong. This will allow you to more accurately evaluate what is really going on. And then you have a lot more room to communicate in a helpful way.
Self-Talk that encourages you to slow down and be kind to yourself can really take you a long way. Even when there is something very real and true that you need to evaluate about yourself, doing so in a critical and mean way will not lead to a helpful result. Be kind. This will take you much further. Saying to yourself “I am working towards being more patient” is different than “I am such a mess.” Pay attention to the internal dialogue that you tell yourself. Kind self talk can make all the difference.
In marriage counseling and depression therapy in Simi Valley, Ca we work with individuals and couples to really change the way they go about things in their mind. Your mind has so much power. But you have the ability to train it.
Coping with your partner’s depression: How To Four: Get the help you need for yourself first and foremost
The reality is that you can’t make someone get help if they aren’t willing to. If they are, then that’s great. Get them involved in depression therapy or marriage counseling together! But even if they are getting help you need support too. When one partner has depression the other one struggles alongside. Also, you want to be able to build all the resources you can within yourself. You want to be the strongest person you can be. And most importantly, I believe you want to feel good about you.
At Simi Psychological Group we work with individuals and couples on making sure to take care of themselves first and foremost. We do this since if you don’t have the mental space then you won’t be able to help anyone else. We also believe that everything is interconnected. Your growth will be your partner’s growth and vice versa.
Please share this article with someone in need of support and tools on how to cope with your partner’s depression.
About the author,
I specialize in working with anxiety and in helping adolescents and their families, adults, and couples better their relationships and find direction. Rather than shy away from the tough stuff in life, I prefer to face it head-on, together. I believe that challenges are part of being human and that everyone has the potential to become their own life’s navigator. So they never have to feel out of control or at the mercy of their circumstances. Learn more