When you're dating someone with depression, there may be times when you find it challenging. For example:
- There may be times when you find it difficult to understand what they're going through;
- There may be times when you want to do something to help them, but aren't sure what to do;
- There may be times when you do try to do something to help them, but you accidently end up upsetting them and making them feel even worse;
- There may be times when they withdraw and isolate themselves, which may leave you feeling confused, hurt and unsure if they still care about you;
- There may be times when they lash out at you unexpectedly, which may cause you to feel upset and frustrated;
- And, there may be times when you feel really burned out and exhausted from constantly trying to support them.
For these reasons, we recently posed a question to our 3,000,000+ person social media community:
What suggestions do you have when it comes to dating someone with depression?
And below, we'd like to share some of the responses with you.
Tips For Dating Someone With Depression
- "Please do not tell them to get over it or that it's all in their head. Sometimes, a hug goes a long way. Just don't judge."
- "Reassurance. There will be days when a little reassurance is needed to remind me you care. Depression will tell me otherwise and get in my head, making me think I’m only tolerated."
- Don’t ask what they need. They probably won’t even know. Instead, talk to them, empathise, help in practical ways like making sure they have bills paid, eat food, and shower and dress themselves. Let them know they are not alone even if they feel they are. That’s the stuff I need at my worst."
- "If they want some space, don't take it personally. It might be to protect you from the irritability that they're experiencing."
- "My advice for dating someone with depression: have acceptance of when they can and when they can’t. Also important: becoming a safe place for you both. You matter. They matter. Balance."
- "Be patient and actually listen to your partner."
- "If you're going to seriously date someone with depression, then learn as much as you can about depression, and keep on learning. This will help with comprehending your partner so that you can understand who they are, and also show them that you care and love them enough to keep learning. They will feel it and know they can be open with you and trust you."
- "Have boundaries and understand my depression is not yours to take on - that will only make it worse for me."
- "Sometimes the 'meltdown' for no reason is not for no reason. Have patience, but also be honest with yourself - in the sense that if you can't be patient, then that person may not be right for you."
- "Support them to do something active each day."
- "Be there for them. Sometimes we just want someone to listen. Don’t try to fix the problem, just give them an outlet for their feelings."
- "I'd love to have a partner or friend who handed me a cup of water or tea and then took my other hand and brought me to the shower, started it, and then told me to get in. Given how hard it is to shower when you have depression, THAT would be SO. FREAKIN. HELPFUL."
- "A person with depression is already in a fight for their life. When you date them, try as much as you can to help with the fight, but never become another front/flank they have to fight on."
- "If they say they need you, be there for them. Even if it's just to listen or lay with them for a bit. But also if they're quiet, give them space and understand it's not you."
- "Don't put them down, criticise them or tell them negative things - it will only make it worse."
- "If you're considering dating someone with depression, then you'd better do some research and make sure you can handle that kind of situation and actually be with someone that suffers from depression. Otherwise, rather don’t do it."
- "Sometimes they just want someone to listen without judgement. The worst thing you can do is to ignore how they feel like it doesn’t matter."
- "Be present, empathetic, sympathetic, reassuring and kind. This is essential."
- "Have patience, and try not to take things personally. Don’t try to 'fix' them … just be as empathetic as you can be. Above all, don’t tell them that they are overreacting or being dramatic. Something minor to you can feel like the world crashing down around them."
- "Help them with their household chores. It helps a lot!"
- "Be self-aware, and observant - are your actions causing trauma responses in your partner? Also, don't take things personally, and try to understand their point of view. Above all, listen to both verbal and non-verbal cues."
- "Do your homework, and know what you’re getting in to in terms of the illness."
- “I think it's helpful to be told: 'Hey I know you’re having a hard time right now ... do you want to just exist in each other’s company for a couple hours? No interaction required.'"
- "Please understand that you can't love their depression away, and unalive thoughts don't just go away because they are with you now. That's not how any of this works."
- "To piggyback what others have said, offer reassurance, and don’t judge. There was a time when I thought I was not wanted, and depression told me that so many times that I believed it for the longest."
- "Check up on them, and if you're a Christian, pray for them. Don't make them feel like they're alone."
- "Don't try to 'fix it'. It is their experience, and only they can treat it with the right qualified support."
- "Understand that it will probably take a while for that person to trust you."
- "Help them get help. Encourage growth and therapy."
- "Me and my partner both deal with depression, so lots of unconditional love, empathy, patience and understanding is a good start."
- "Listen to understand, not to find a solution."
- "Honestly, it is a massive challenge to date someone with depression, and very draining. Do not go in there all lighthearted with a mindset of 'I will fix this'. You never can. By all means you can help, but there is no quick fix. The best one can do is be there. Listen. You don't HAVE to understand, that's not your duty. Just accept it for what it is and work together to do what can be done. But again, dating someone with depression is not for the fainthearted. There is nothing pretty or cute or tantalising about depression - it kills people. So be mindful, as much about yourself as of the one with depression."
- "Don't date someone with depression unless you're serious about supporting them. The damage caused by not being onboard and being unsupportive or dare I say 'playing' them is just dismantling for them."
- "Just know ... it is not a cold that will get better in a week!"
- "TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. You can't support them if you don't take care of yourself, and the person you're dating with depression will probably feel even worse about themselves if they see that they're getting in the way of you feeling your best."
- "Hug them lots, and be prepared for a long and bumpy road."
If you're thinking about dating someone with depression or are currently dating someone with depression, then we hope you find some of these suggestions helpful.
All our love,
The Depression Project Team.