10 Ways to Cope with Your Partner's Depression

by Jerry Kennard, Ph.D. Medical Reviewer

If you’re in a relationship with someone who gets depressed, it stands to reason that his or her depression will affect both of you in different ways. If you work together, you both will feel less isolated and hopefully more optimistic about a positive outcome. Still, there are issues you'll need to address.

Have faith in yourself and your future

It can be an unsettling time trying to support a person with depression. It’s a complex condition and while there are many common signs and symptoms, every person reacts differently. Don’t get confused. You are stronger and more able to cope than you think.

Work as a team

Depression is an isolating illness. The person who is depressed looks inward and they may also push you away. As much as you can, try to keep your relationship alive by doing simple things together.

Relate to the person behind the illness

Don’t lose sight of the things you love about him or her. They may still respond to matters of interest, humor, shared moments from the past and so on. If you normally ask their advice or opinion, continue to do so.

Try not to take things personally

They say we always hurt the ones we love. That could have been written about depression. Sometimes people with depression can be hurtful in the things they say or do. And sometimes the problem is more about what they don’t say or do.

Get informed

The more you learn about depression and the treatment options, the more insightful and less confused you’ll become. Knowledge may help you to move past guilt, or blame or anger. There’s a lot of information available, although it may seem overwhelming at first. Work at your own pace. Try to grasp the essentials, but don’t lose sight of your own feelings and insights into your partner.

Keep your expectations realistic

This will make more sense the more you learn about depression. For now, it’s important to note you can’t cure their depression. Nor can you speed it on or find ways to slow its progression. Professional treatment can be helpful and reassuring, so use what’s available.

Stick to your routines

This may sound the most natural and obvious thing to do, but it’s surprising how many people don’t. Depression carries less of a stigma than many conditions, but it can still be difficult for people to open up and share their feelings. Often, this is because they are embarrassed or ashamed. Find someone you trust – a professional if you feel that’s easier – and get things off your chest.

Look after yourself

Living with someone with depression can be taxing, but your support is only as good as your own health allows. If you’re not well yourself, or you are feeling that you’re not coping well, then seek help.

Give support within your limitations

This is something you’ll have to judge for yourself. There may come a point when you feel you can’t cope, or you feel your own health starting to suffer. Giving care or support comes more easily to some people than others, so don’t feel you are a failure if you’re struggling.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Jerry Kennard, Ph.D.

Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s work background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.