If someone you love is struggling with depression, you may be experiencing a wide range of feelings yourself. If you’ve never been through it yourself, you might feel confused and frustrated. If you have, you might feel helpless. If it’s your spouse, you might feel overwhelmed, as though all the responsibility is on your shoulders, and now you have to care for your spouse, along with the kids, the house, and work. Depression destroys relationships, but it doesn’t have to. With a little support and understanding, you and your spouse can get through this.
The most important thing a person with depression needs is to know that someone is in their corner, that they are not alone. Simply taking a few minutes out of your day to sit, hold hands, and let your partner know you are there to support them in any way you can definitely goes a long way.
Small gestures mean so much. Send a text on your lunch break, pick up a card when you’re at the store, or make your spouse’s favorite dinner. Gestures like this can help light a candle in the middle of the darkness for your loved one.
If you’ve never experienced depression, it can be easy to underestimate the crushing and overwhelming feelings involved. We all know that getting up, taking a shower, and going for a walk can help, but those things can seem downright impossible to someone in the grip of depression. Suggesting someone with depression needs to just shake it off implies that they are choosing to be depressed and you can make things worse for them by saying these things to them. Depression is no more a choice than cancer, and you wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to will it away.
Just like being depressed isn’t a choice, recovering from depression isn’t a choice, nor can you put a time limit on it. Let your loved one know that you will be there, no matter how long it takes.
Learn as much as you can
Learning everything you possibly can about depression can help ease some of your own feelings of frustration and helplessness. Understanding the how depression works can give you a greater understanding of what your loved one is experiencing, what to expect, and how you can help. Just be careful to not believe everything you read in someone’s blog. Be aware of who is writing the website/blog that you are taking your information from. Is it a depressed person (if so everyone experiences depression slightly differently) or is it a trained professional?
Take care of yourself
This article is about helping you support your depressed spouse, but it can be hard to offer support if you feel overwhelmed and unsupported yourself. Find a friend who can listen to your frustrations without passing judgment or an activity that provides you an outlet. You might even consider seeking professional help for yourself to help you learn ways to cope and help your spouse.