How Does Depression Affect Relationships?
Persistent sadness, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness characterize depression. About 1 in 5 American adults will experience these debilitating feelings at some point in their life. And sadly, these effects of depression can destroy relationships.
When battling depression and the feelings of worthlessness it brings, you may have a distorted perception of self, your partner, and life in general. You start having warped beliefs about how your partner views you, gradually ruining the relationship. Eventually, nothing makes sense to you, not even your relationship.
Warning Signs that Depression is Affecting Your Relationship
Some people can cope with depression just fine, but not all. Here are signs to know that depression has eaten into your relationship:
1. Sexual intimacy becomes almost non-existent
Many depressed people report a lack of libido. Many things can cause this, including the shame about sex, poor body image, or lingering feeling of exhaustion. Without intimacy, it's hard keeping romantic connections intact.
2. You feel hopeless about the relationship
A sense of hopelessness heralds suicidal thoughts, typical of major depression. While it's okay to sometimes feel uncertain or overwhelmed about the future, feeling entirely hopeless makes you crave to end the relationship altogether.
People who are depressed tend to withdraw into their shells. When you find yourself unwilling to communicate your negative feelings to your partner because you see no reason to, it could be depression at work. That's because depression causes you to feel guilty, making asking for help challenging.
4. You use alcohol to feel good
When alcohol or some other substance becomes the only thing that makes you feel good -- not even intimacy with your partner, it could be depression at play. Depression makes you lose interest in naturally exciting activities, which can cripple your ability to enjoy sex, date nights, or quality time with your partner. But alcohol will only make your depression worse.
How Depression Affects Relationships with Family and Friends
Aside from romantic relationships, depression negatively affects other relationships in many ways. For example, depression makes you averse to hanging out with friends. You feel like turning down every single invitation you get. This lack of spending time together can put a strain on the friendship, forcing each party to go their separate ways due to less frequent interaction.
The loss of energy and apathy can also make your career a burden. The less productive you get, the more chances of having problems with your boss and colleagues.
Tips to Minimize the Effects of Depression on Relationships
Before reading this section, note that it will be difficult. Every nerve in your body will tell you that the situation is hopeless, life sucks, you're worthless, and it's no use talking with someone. But this is the time to do everything your body says you shouldn't.
We have to understand that our minds play tricks on us. We will see everything bad about life if we look hard enough. Similarly, we'll see everything good and pleasant if we take the time to appreciate the little things.
Acknowledge your depression
The first step to coping with depression is to know that you have it. If not, you'll believe that truly you're worthless and there's no reason why you should be loved. You'll even find reasons to back up the claim. But when you acknowledge that these are simply the symptoms of depression, you get one step ahead.
Talk to your partner about it
This is difficult, but it's the best thing you could do for yourself and your partner. Let them know what you're going through. They may not be able to proffer a solution, but just talking about your problem might help.
Don't always turn down opportunities to connect
It will require every ounce of strength in your body to overpower the urge to say, "No, I can't," but it will be worth it. Even though you don't feel up to it, go out or spend an intimate indoor time together. You may realize all that you've been missing while at it.
Use antidepressants instead of substances
Rather than turning to alcohol or opioids to feel better, use depression medication like antidepressants instead. A mental health expert will recommend the appropriate medication or therapy as the case may be.
Perhaps you're not the person with depression but your partner. Your support can be crucial to their recovery. Be patient with them and try not to be judgmental. Keep in mind that your loved one isn't lazy or boring; they're simply mentally ill and need help.
Whether it's you or your partner battling depression, seeking professional help from a mental health specialist can be all you need to stabilize and enjoy your relationship once again. Let me help you. Whether through medication, therapy, or some other method as your situation warrants, take a step now to begin your journey to a more wholesome life.
Come, let's talk!