Depression and its many symptoms can impact every area of your life, from your career, to your future plans and goals, to your relationships. Looking outside what we classically think of as depression can help us gain a more widespread understanding of what we’re up against. With this in mind, considering how depression affects your relationships can help you form healthier attachments to those in your life and ultimately overcome the struggles you face. Depression in relationships can really test your commitment to one another (and yourself), but it doesn’t mean that you can’t move past it and find the partnership you’re looking for.
Common Symptoms and Signs That You Might Have Depression
In the past you wondered if it was just a slump, but now it’s been so long. You tell yourself, no matter how much I try, my life just doesn’t get better. I’m worn out and discouraged. I’m sick of fighting this battle. But there is hope ahead for you, and identifying and understanding the problem is the first step to moving forward. Depression in relationships can cause difficulties, many of them stemming from these symptoms and the lack of understanding either party may have of them.
We’ve included the most common signs that you may have depression below. For a comprehensive list of depression symptoms, visit the National Institute of Mental Health’s website. While knowing these signs can help you figure out your next move, it’s important that you don’t diagnose yourself and seek help from a professional so you don’t have to face this alone.
The tiredness that often comes with depression is an all-encompassing feeling of exhaustion that may not go away with sleep or rest. You might feel physically tired all of the time or mentally “slowed down.”
Lack of Interest in Activities
Maybe you’ve noticed that hobbies or activities you used to love don’t feel the same anymore. It’s not your fault that you feel this way, and there is hope that you’ll be able to enjoy them again one day.
No matter how hard you try to see the positive, your mind keeps taking you to a low, pessimistic place. It might feel like a dark fog is following you everywhere you go. You go through the motions, yet you feel like an empty shell of a person. Sometimes you feel okay, like you’re getting by. But it’s easy to sink lower when something doesn’t go your way. The hole gets deeper as the months and years pass.
Happiness? Not for me. Satisfaction? Can’t seem to find that. This is just the story of my life.
Changes in Appetite or Weight
Depression can cause you to either lose interest in eating and eat less than normal, or seek out food for comfort and eat more than normal. As a result, you may have noticed a weight change.
Thoughts of Death or Suicide
Unfortunately, depression can cause us to feel some of the deepest lows and have thoughts of death, dying or suicide. If you are having thoughts of suicide, please seek immediate help by calling or texting 988.
“Depression is being colorblind and constantly told how colorful the world is.”– Atticus
Depression in Relationships
When low feelings and hopeless thoughts prevent you from going out, replying to texts from friends or family or generally acting like your old self, it will likely impact all of the relationships in your life. And, if you’ve lost healthy social interaction or if your relationships have taken a toll, that might make you feel even more depressed and isolated.
Learning about how depression affects relationships is the first step in a healthy, fulfilling relationship now or later down the road.
Facing Depression in a Season of Singleness
You see your friends in relationships, and you think, if I could just find someone, then I would feel happy and loved. So you endlessly scroll through dating sites, chasing fulfillment just beyond your reach.
I understand how cripplingly lonely it must feel to face depression without a supportive partner. For women in particular, living alone or being single can increase the chances of becoming depressed.
However, this season can be a time for you to heal on your own terms, learn about yourself and your goals, and discover what qualities you are looking for in a relationship. As a single person, you have the freedom to focus on yourself and spend your time fulfilling your mental health needs. I can tell you from experience that unless you are filled up on the inside and love and value yourself, you will not find the wholeness you seek in another person.
Depression in Romantic Relationships
- Communication Becomes a Battle
You may have noticed more arguments or decreased communication in your relationship as your depression set in. After all, when you’re depressed it might feel easier to shut your partner out than express your emotions for fear of judgment. Or, your depression might manifest as irritability which could start arguments or make your partner feel attacked.
It might help you to explain the way you’ve been feeling when you’re able to. It could help your partner understand the reason for the breakdown in communication and make them not feel so targeted. Your relationship also benefits from their understanding that it’s not their job to make you feel better or heal you. Furthermore, therapy can help you develop better communication tactics so that you can express yourself and have less arguments, even in the midst of depression.
- Intimacy May Suffer
When you feel low or down most of the time, you may not feel like being intimate with your partner like you used to be. Sex and intimacy allow us to feel connected to our partners, so when those things are lacking, you might feel even more withdrawn. Furthermore, changes in your body may make you feel less confident about yourself in intimate situations.
One thing you can do to improve intimacy in your relationship is to plan situations for emotional or physical bonding with no pressure to have sex. This could look like snuggling up on the couch while watching a movie or giving each other back rubs. Even if things don’t escalate into sexual intimacy, the physical nearness will help you feel closer and more connected to each other.
- Responsibilities Shifting Could Overwhelm Your Partner
Depression in relationships could cause responsibilities like household chores or childcare to fall more to one partner as the other struggles to keep up. It’s important that the partner suffering from depression feels supported by the other, but feelings of guilt and may creep in for you and your partner may feel understandably overwhelmed.
It’s important for both partners to understand that this is temporary. They should also both be encouraged to openly voice their needs and feelings. Finally, priorities may need to shift. Maybe the dishes don’t get done one day because both partners need to focus on another task or just self-care, and that is okay.
Coping with a Depression Disorder
In the past, maybe you thought that if you got the job, the house, the partner, the kid, or something else, then you would feel happy. If only these things changed, my life would get better. Disappointment and hopelessness set in when you realized that wasn’t true.
Reach Out for Support
Even though you may feel embarrassed or ashamed to discuss your depression, it’s important that you have a reliable support system in place. Reach out to the friends and family members you trust and make plans to see them or have a conversation, even if that’s just via phone or Facetime. Studies have shown that individuals who partake in more social interactions and discuss their own thoughts and feelings with another show lower levels of depression and loneliness.
Make Plans and Goals for Yourself
It truly helps you move through your day if you have something to look forward to or a goal you’re working towards. This can be as small or lofty as you can handle. Here are some examples:
- Book a coffee date with an old friend
- Stretch or do some yoga poses from bed
- Schedule a weekly self-care evening
- Sign up for an art class
- Take a daily walk with your dog to the end of the street
- Try a new restaurant
- Start a journaling practice of what you’re grateful for or how you’re feeling
- Make a playlist of your favorite songs and listen to it on the way to work
- Cook or bake your favorite treat
- Add upcoming TV, movie or book releases you’re looking forward to your calendar
Change Up Your Environment
The pandemic had many of us either bound to our homes or working overtime at our places of work. Even though you understandably may not feel like leaving the couch, a change of pace might help you change your state of mind. If you work from home, try taking your work to a coffee shop or the library. If you go in to work, try taking your lunch outside or at the nearest restaurant.
Seek Out Help from a Therapist
So you ask, “How can therapy help me?” We’ll look at the patterns of your cycles of depression. We’ll see how sadness and emptiness became a state of being. We’ll explore how your early experiences could have contributed to being stuck in the low zone. And, we’ll discover how depression affects relationships and your relationship in particular.
I’ll help you learn self-care to nurture yourself when you’re feeling down. I can hear your inner dialogue now: “Self-care, what is that?” It may sound like a buzzword, but what does it actually mean? It’s treating yourself as well as you would another important person in your life. Showing yourself kindness, patience, and gentleness. Imagine that.
I will walk beside you to reclaim the life beyond depression that is waiting. This looks like discovering new ways of connecting to the moment, feeling joy, and showing up for your life. A life where you’re able to look forward to instead of dreading the day. Able to get unstuck and move forward. Over my 16 years of experience as a therapist, I have seen many people deeply transform and shift, reaching new levels they didn’t think were possible.
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.”
– Brene Brown
Let’s connect to start the journey toward the life you want to live. Contact me today so we can connect for a free phone consultation.
Depression is often closely connected to childhood trauma or sexual abuse. Click here to learn more.
Depression is often related to anxiety. Click here to learn more about anxiety.