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When you date a man with depression, it can become a struggle to maintain a relationship with him and protect your own mental health. The experience is not fundamentally different than dating someone without a mental illness, but there are issues that are more likely to arise.
Tips for dating someone with depression:
By understanding these issues and knowing how to respond, you can support the man you love without threatening the relationship or your emotional wellbeing. Note: We discuss the following insights in the context of dating men, but they apply equally to women. Scroll further down to read about behaviors and situations you are more likely to encounter with men only.
Also realize you are not guaranteed to encounter these issues when you date someone with depression. Depression simply increases their likelihood. We also wrote an article about issues you are more likely to encounter with women only. Whether you ask or deduce it after months of dating, there will be a point when your partner discloses they deal with depression. Thank him for trusting you with this information he has most likely not shared with many people.
See it as the beginning of a discussion you can resurface occasionally. Depression is one of the most widespread mental health disorders in the U. It can take many forms and comes with a variety of symptoms. There is not one main cause of depression, it can be geneticbut environmental influences often play a part in causing this disorder. Other major causes include stressful life events and low self-esteem. Causes of depression are unique for every individual and are often a combination of many factors. One person says something nice.
#1 educate yourself about depression
The person with depression would love to receive this kindness as it is, but their depression has set up a series of negative filters. By the time the kind words reach the person with depression, the filters have mutated it into something negative such as an insult or affirmation of their negative beliefs.
Dating makes the situation even more difficult because there is more vulnerability. Evgueni Borissenko, who has dealt with severe depression and blogged about it, talked about what this can be like in cases such as his. If this happens, choose your words carefully.
Tell him exactly what you mean and explain why what you are saying is positive. If his response seems like an attack, resist the instinct to be defensive.
This is vital because attacking back can exacerbate his depression. Stay calm and ensure he knows exactly what you are trying to express. If you feel the man you are dating is afflicted with this attitude, be patient. Show him he deserves love that will free him and make his life better rather than becoming another burden. Depression is not a choice. If any man with depression had a choice, he would choose to be rid of it. One of the most hurtful things you can do to a man with depression is say it is his fault, that he could choose to be better if his will or character was stronger.
Even the strongest men, however, are not immune to illness and cannot cure it alone. If the behavior hurts you emotionally, you should know he most likely did not intend to, said matchmaker Cassie Moffit, who has successfully matched couples with mental illness. Knowing this will allow you to be more patient and understanding. There might be days when it seems like this third person possesses your partner, trying his best to disrupt the relationship or come between the two of you.
Without excusing the behavior, be patient and understand this person is not at the core of who your man is.
Commonly asked questions
He wants to be free of this person. Protecting your mental health is more important than being with him, no matter how much it seems like he has become everything to you.
If the relationship is bringing you more pain than happiness — despite attempts to make it healthy — leaving is the right decision. It might seem like you are abandoning him, leaving him at the mercy of his depression and without your love to protect him. Nonetheless, men have a responsibility to work with those they love to overcome the depression and make it more manageable.
You should leave any man who is not doing enough to make the relationship work, and men who suffer from depression are no exception. If your partner uses a treatment for depression such as antidepressants, it might affect the sexual part of your relationship. It can make him not want to have sex as often or seem less satisfied with it, psychiatrist Grant H. Brenner told Talkspace.
There should be no blame. This bothers both sexes, but it seems to irritate men ificantly more, according to the therapists and men Talkspace interviewed. All of the therapists Talkspace spoke to described men with depression as being more irritable on average than their female clients. Men often hide depression because they see it as a of weakness, Christiansen said, but the symptoms tend to seep out in the form of irritability and fatigue.
You can help him by encouraging positive distractions and guiding him away from the negative ones. You can even be one of those positive distractions on occasion.
Men also use distractions to remove themselves from the pain of depression. This can make them seem disinterested or oblivious. She said their outings often felt emotionally distant because both of them were trying to distract themselves from depression, from talking about it and discussing intense feelings.
Because the depression itself can be a distraction, there are other times when men with depressive symptoms can seem disinterested in those they are dating. Francis, who deals with symptoms of depression as a result of his schizoaffective disorder. But remember, you did not cause their illness. It existed before you met him. Because depression can feel like a third person in the relationship, you might need a healthy amount of space.
Dating a man with depression: what you need to know and do
This can alleviate the irritability issue mentioned earlier. Ava Strong, who has dated a man with depression, recommended partners practice healthy boundaries and self-love. This means protecting your mental health by giving yourself space when you feel it is at risk, which brings us to the next piece of advice. Working with a therapist helps mitigate the stress of being in a relationship with a man who deals with depression.
It will allow you to better understand what he is going through and lead by example if he is resistant to therapy. Again, this might be easier than convincing him to see a therapist alone. If you find that his depression is negatively impacting your relationship, you might want to consider going to couples counseling. Any couple, regardless of their relationship status, can attend counseling. Couples therapy is beneficial for any kind of relationship, including: straight or gay relationships, interracial relationships, young teen or college relationships, relationships with a large age gap, relationships that are at any stage, including dating, engaged, or married.
Couples counseling can really work if both parties enter counseling with a communicative, empathetic mindset. Couples counseling has been proven to be an effective resource to overcome the most challenging aspects of relationships and to promote a more secure attachment. Therapy helps couples deepen their emotional and sexual intimacyexperience more satisfaction with their relationshipand nurture healthier habits.
Couples counseling works best when both partners start therapy with the mindset of bettering their relationship, being empathetic, communicating their emotions, and listening to one another. The stigma of therapy and mental illness creates a field filled with landmines for anyone who wants to convince a loved one to see a therapist. There are many strategies couples can use to stop depression from sucking the joy and fun from their relationship. Therapist Lynn D. This involves asking your man to make a prediction about how pleasant or unpleasant he thinks an activity or event will be on a scale of one to 10 — 10 being amazing and zero being horrendous.
Relationship depression: how to cope
When the event is done, ask him to rate how it actually was using the same scale. It might also chip away at the negative beliefs he uses to maintain the depression. Relationship expert April Masini recommended always having a Plan B, especially when dating a man with depression.
Regardless of the specific strategy, anything you try should be an effort to reduce stress, maintain a happy relationship and make symptoms easier to manage rather than changing who he is. When you fall in love with a man, no obstacle seems too large.