It’s important to be aware of the signs of depression and to get help if you are experiencing any of the classic symptoms:
loss of energy, a lack of motivation, an inability to enjoy your usual activities and hobbies, feelings of helplessness, thoughts of self-harm or suicide, guilt, and aches and pains that seem to occur for no good reason.
However, if you are in relationship, it’s also sensible to watch out for depression in your significant other.
Depression can put even the strongest relationships under strain, so it’s good to remain vigilant.
Here are five signs that suggest your significant other might be depressed:
1. They are withdrawing from their family, their friends…and you.
Social isolation is a classic sign of depression.
Depressed people typically have little energy, and they rarely gain enjoyment from social activities.
They can feel as though “normal” life is slipping away from them, and that they have nothing to say to anyone.
This behavior can kickstart a vicious cycle – your significant other might not want to see their friends because they are depressed, but then become even more depressed because they feel lonely, and so on.
To make matters worse, they might also feel distant from you.
In theory, depressed people should be able to talk to their partners about their feelings.
In reality, depression is an isolating illness.
Patients often report that they feel trapped behind a pane of glass that separates them from the rest of the world.
Don’t pressure your partner to open up about their feelings, as they might not even have the words to express themselves.
2. They are often tired and irritable.
People with depression are more sensitive than the average individual.
They tend to adopt a cynical, pessimistic outlook and vigorously resist any attempts to cheer them up.
Depression is often accompanied by an intolerance of even the mildest criticism.
For instance, if the partner of a depressed person asks them to spend a couple more hours each week doing the housework, they will interpret the comment as implying that they are a horrible person!
Unsurprisingly, an innocent everyday conversation can quickly turn into an argument when one partner is depressed.
3. They show little interest in your joint future.
Depressed people typically unmotivated and find it hard to see the point in planning for a future that – in their opinion – won’t bring them any joy.
Whereas your significant other may previously have spent hours talking about the things you will do together, it might be a struggle to get them to commit to any plans when they are depressed.
4. They aren’t interested in sex.
Few people have a consistent libido.
It’s normal to go through phases of being more or less interested in sex.
However, a low sex drive is a typical sign of depression.
This can cause a rift in your relationship, because their lack of interest may make you feel insecure.
You might be left wondering whether they still find you attractive.
Rest assured that it’s not personal.
When someone is in a depressed state, they just don’t find sex appealing.
5. They are using or abusing alcohol, drugs, or food in an attempt to manage their mood.
Depressed people often turn to substance abuse or develop addictions to numb painful feelings.
Psychologists and therapists refer to this behavior as “self-medication.”
If your partner is drinking much more often than usual, has started taking drugs, or appears to be overeating, pay close attention to their mental state.
It’s painful to watch your significant other slide into depression, but the good news is that you can play a key role in helping them feel better.
Although their behavior may make you angry or upset, remember that they are not choosing to be depressed.
They need your support – criticism will only make things worse.
Instead, focus on encouraging them to get help from their doctor or therapist.
Ask them how you can help and give them plenty of time and space to respond.
If you know or suspect that they are hurting themselves or contemplating suicide, it’s vital that you seek medical advice as soon as possible.
You can ask your doctor for help in handling your significant other’s’ behaviors and moods or call the emergency services if they are in imminent danger.
Remember to take care of yourself during this time, because supporting someone you love through mental illness can be physically and mentally draining. The good news is that, with time, the majority of depressed people make a full recovery.