You’ve probably heard the old saying about how you can’t love another (or be loved) until you love yourself first. But where does this leave people who are depressed? Should you avoid dating someone with depression all together?
We don’t necessarily think that people should avoid dating someone who is depressed or that a depressed person should put off dating and sex. After all, you never know when you’ll find love.
This doesn’t mean that dating someone with depression is easy, however. Here’s what you need to know to navigate the issue within your relationship.
WHAT IS DEPRESSION?
Although most people are familiar with the concept of depression, not everyone truly understands the details of depression. If you fall into that category, this can make dating someone with depression much harder than it has to be.
Depression is a mental illness that can be diagnosed and often treated, either with talk therapy, medication or other methods. It can take some time to mitigate depression, and some people respond better to the standard treatment than others . People who experience it cannot just “snap out of it.”
Depression isn’t just about being momentarily sad. Indeed, you can feel depressed for a day or a week and have it pass without long-term effects, especially if whatever is causing your depression is resolved.
However, having depression means that sadness is longer lasting, and it may not have an obvious cause. Your man can have depression even if your relationship is healthy, his job is good, and life is relatively stress-free. But an imbalance in brain chemistry results in his depression.
WHO GETS DEPRESSION?
Depression can affect anyone; although certain factors – including poor sleep and lack of exercise and smoking  – correlate with an increased likelihood of depression.
This doesn’t mean that he won’t have good days or experience moments of happiness, either. Depression waxes and wanes. It does mean that he may have a difficult time being positive, enjoying life and having faith in himself during various stretches of time. And that could be detrimental to your relationship and even your own mental health when you’re dating someone with depression.
Depression may be more common than you realize. As many as 1 in 6 people have been affected by depression . Whether you’re dealing with someone else’s depression or your own, know that you aren’t alone. Depression affects many people, more than those who are comfortable admitting the possibility and seeking help.
SIGNS OF DEPRESSION
You might be here because you wonder if you’re dating someone with depression. He may exhibit some of the symptoms. Perhaps it’s a more recent development, or he may always have had depression but may not have sought treatment.
If you’re wondering if someone you love is depressed, look for the following symptoms :
- Sadness, listlessness
- Lack of motivation
- Poor self-esteem
- Lack of appetite
- Oversleeping; sluggishness in the waking hours
- Loss of interest in sex
- Inability to feel positive about activities he once enjoyed
- Emotional numbness
- Anxious thoughts
- Suicidal thoughts
- Weight gain or loss
- Issues with digestion
Not everyone displays all of these symptoms of depression. Some people are better at hiding it. People from different cultures usually show similar symptoms, but in some cultures, certain symptoms may be more prevalent among the population of people suffering from depression than others . And depression may look different between older and younger adults .
Some of the physical symptoms of depression might not suggest this mental illness at first. If you gained weight or became irritable, you might wonder if it’s from your period or from a new birth control. However, if your man displays many of these symptoms, it might be time to do something about it.
For some people, admitting they have depression makes them feel guilty or shame. They feel weak. There’s still a stigma about being depressed, and we can see it everywhere from stand-up comedy to our military culture. However, depression can go from insurmountable and deadly when left unchecked to manageable when treated correctly.
WARNING: WHEN SOMEONE WITH DEPRESSION BECOMES SUICIDAL
Not everyone who is depressed feels suicidal or has thoughts of suicide. However, some people do. Some people who have been depressed for years see no end to their torment and may consider suicide.
FOR THOSE IN THE USA
If your man, you or anyone in your life is suicidal, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 from within the USA.
You can also text the Crisis Text line at 741-741. Send the message “Start” to begin.
Crisis Chat offers immediate contact with a trained person.
You can also find advice for dating someone with depression at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
BEWARE THESE COMMON ISSUES WHEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE IS DEPRESSED
You’re beginning to understand how depression can play into a relationship. You’re ready to help your man in any way possible. But it’s easy to make the following mistakes.
- You try to “cure” his depression.Depression isn’t necessarily rational or reactive. This is why many people find their depression so hard to manage. Your partner may momentarily be more light and happy due to you coming into his life. But his depression can always return. You can offer support, but you can’t fix it.
- You judge him. He may always have depression. Sometimes it may be easier, but you may never understand the enormity of the situation or how difficult depression makes it to complete everyday tasks let alone being part of a relationship. Dating someone who is depressed requires patience and compassion, which may sometimes be difficult if you can’t quite wrap your head around it.
- You forgot about yourself.On the other hand, dating with depression can be quite draining and downright detrimental if you don’t take time for your own needs. It can take a toll on your physical or emotional well-being, especially if you don’t set boundaries. Boundaries are important in any relationship but may be even more if your partner is depressed. If your relationship lacks boundaries, you might find yourself feeling depressed, anxious or exhausted in return. So it’s okay to let your man know when you need a break, some “me time.”
- You never talk about it.It’s essential that depression doesn’t become the elephant in the room. It’s part of your lives, and while it shouldn’t be the only thing you talk about, you should talk about it when it’s helpful.
- You become resentful.Dealing with depression in a relationship may mean that you don’t get to do everything you’d like. You may not have sex as much as you’d like because both depression and its medication can decrease libido. Those things can have serious repercussions for your relationship and yourself. If you decide to be in a relationship with someone who has depression, you need to actively work on squashing any resentment before it adds yet another problem to your relationship.
DEALING WITH DEPRESSION IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP
If your man has depression but you’re committed to your relationship, and there’s no immediate risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior, it’s time to figure out how to make your relationship work. Here are things you can do to when dating someone who is depressed to benefit both of you and your relationship.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF
Learning as much as you can makes depression seem a lot less scary and more manageable. You’ll learn skills to cope with your man’s depression and to prevent it from causing the collapse of your relationship. Your partner should also seek as much information as he can to ensure he has a full understanding of his depression.
- ENCOURAGE THERAPY
If he’s not already going, you can help him find a therapist. Through this person, your man can explore therapy and obtain medications as well as suggestions for managing his depression. You can offer support by locating a therapist who fits a particular need (kink-aware or with a focus on depression, for example).
- ATTEND SESSIONS WITH HIM
Your man will need one-on-one time with his therapist, but you can periodically attend sessions to discuss how his depression affects you and your relationship. You can also glean information on how to help him. His therapist may suggest that the two of you also consider couple’s therapy.
- ENCOURAGE HEALTHY HABITS AND ROUTINE
His therapist should explain how routine and healthy habits can help mitigate depression and some of its symptoms. He should have a routine with plenty of sleep and exercise and abstain from alcohol and drug use, which can contribute to a higher likelihood of depression . You can help by creating a healthy home environment and being healthy yourself.
- ASK HIM WHAT HE NEEDS
You want to offer support; he needs support. But sometimes you don’t know what that support is. The answer is simple: ask.
He might just want your presence or a hug or a kiss. Your man may need some down time. He can tell you best what he needs; although, he may not always be aware of his needs or have the ability to articulate them.
- BE POSITIVE AND COMPASSIONATE
Dating someone with depression is difficult. But it’s doable. And if it’s something you choose to do, don’t make it seem like a terrible sacrifice even though it can be hard. Be positive about progress, the future, and your relationship. Show compassion to your man (and yourself). It will go a long way.
There’s no guide to explain everything you should – and shouldn’t – do when dealing with depression. Rest assured it’s often possible to make it work when dating with someone with depression. When that’s not possible, you may need to break up, however.
ENDING A RELATIONSHIP BECAUSE OF DEPRESSION
It’s okay if depression is or becomes a deal-breaker for you. Perhaps you’ve been dealing with depression for too long, or you’ve already been in a similar situation that ended poorly. You might need sex more than he provides.
You don’t need to stay with a man who has depression; although, you can choose to do so. If you’re serious about saving your relationship, you’ve got to read this article. Otherwise, it might be time to break up.
Breaking up is never easy, but you shouldn’t stay with him just because he’s depressed and you’re worried he’ll become suicidal.
DATING WITH DEPRESSION WHEN THAT DEPRESSION IS YOURS
We’ve established that dating someone with depression is difficult but doable. However, there’s something else to consider: Dating when you’re the one who has depression. You may want to pull away so that your partner doesn’t feel like you’re a burden. Or you might not have the appetite for sex or even quality time like you once did.
It’s understandable if you experience some sort of guilt over this. After all, depression already makes your world look bleak and hurts your self-esteem. If you’re not sure that you’re worthy to begin with, you’ll question why someone would want to date you when you have depression.
For you, we have some advice.
- ALLOW YOUR MAN TO LOVE YOU.
He wants to. It’s his choice. Once you make that choice, don’t pull away or, even worse, push him away. Encourage him to join a support group if it might help.
- SEEK THERAPY.
Continue going if you’re already doing so. Then, follow the doctor’s orders regarding medication, meditation, exercise and other ways of taking care of yourself. Invite your man to join you on some sessions.
Therapy can be helpful even when you don’t have depression.
- DON’T EXPECT YOUR MAN TO FIX YOUR DEPRESSION.
In fact, depression is never “cured,” even though you might feel less depressed when you’re in the honeymoon phase. But you’ll need more than his presence to feel better if you can at all.
- ACCEPT BAD DAYS.
Some days will be better than others. This can feel like a setback, but recognizing this can help it from further setting you back like accepting when you’ve slipped up on your diet.
Most of the information about dating someone with depression applies to you too, if you have depression. Dating someone with depression can be as rewarding as it is difficult. You’ll grow, and the two of you have a chance to become closer because of it. Support can help you manage your man’s depression, but not every relationship can survive this hurdle.