It might seem overwhelming, but it’s not actually very difficult to date someone who’s dealing with depression. It’s a lot like dating someone who doesn’t have it, just with a little more understanding and empathy when they need it. If you’re in a relationship with someone who struggles with depression, here’s what you need to know:
Depression is like any other illness. Above all else, you need to remember this. Depression isn’t just feeling down from time to time — it’s a legitimate illness and it’s just like any other bodily ailment. It’s not some mystical malaise that strikes the vulnerable. It can happen to anyone, and it doesn’t make them weak, unintelligent, defective, or anything else.
It looks different depending on the person. One person’s depression doesn’t necessarily look anything like anyone else’s. So there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to dating someone who’s dealing with it. They’re going to handle it in their own way, and they’re going to be the best expert on what shape it takes in their life. You can’t make assumptions about it without talking to them.
Communication is great. That’s all you’ll really need to have in order to be a good partner. Asking questions, paying attention, and really digesting what they have to say about it is super important. It’s not too different from dating in general really, since communication is what makes any relationship work.
Kindness is a virtue. You can’t fix someone else’s depression, but you can be there for them. Being kind is sometimes the best way to help someone who’s in a depressive spell. This can be something as small as ordering a pizza when they’re too tired to cook or helping them with the dishes that have piled up in the sink. You don’t have to be a superhero, you just have to have a kind heart.
There will be good days and bad. It’s hard to generalize the experience of depression since it varies so much from person to person, but generally speaking, a depressed person will have their ups and downs and they’re unpredictable. Sometimes depression can seemingly vanish for months at a time, only to come back with a vengeance later on for no reason at all. However, everyone’s got good and bad days; a person with depression isn’t any different in that respect.
You can help them help themselves. Self-care is an important part of any depressed person’s routine for staying healthy. Gentle reminders can be super helpful when they’re in the thick of it because they might just genuinely forget to do things while it’s heavy on their mind. Texting can be a great way of checking in throughout the day with little reminders. Ask them what helps the most and stick to that.
The stereotypes you’ve heard about depression aren’t real. Depression isn’t sobbing all the time, never showering, or sleeping for hours on end. It can definitely have some of those symptoms, but it’s so different for each individual who suffers from it. You may not even know that the person you’ve started seeing has depression unless they tell you. Any stereotypes you might be unconsciously holding on to need to get the boot, because they’ll only hamper your ability to understand and empathize with them.
Understanding their strengths will go a long way. People who deal with depression often have developed strengths to compensate for it. They might be more prone to introspection, but that’ll make them an excellent communicator about what they’re feeling and why. Each person develops their own coping strategies, but those are often the things that make them stronger. The more you get to know them, the more you’ll see those hidden strengths.
Depression can be funny. It is often hilarious, in fact. An insider view of depression can come with so much humor and intelligence. All you need to do is pay attention and be open to seeing it from their perspective.
Depression doesn’t define anyone. Just like any other physical or mental ailment, depression doesn’t own a person’s identity. If you’re dating someone who’s got depression, you’re really just dating a person who’s got challenges like anyone else. They don’t cancel out how loving and amazing they are. If anything, you should just be more in awe of them.
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