Did you previously have a strong relationship, and now feel disconnected from your partner? Research shows a link between depression and being unhappy with your relationship. Depression can take a happy, healthy relationship and create a cloud around your ability to enjoy the person you love.
With depression, you may become critical of your partner, or doubt your relationship altogether. You may lose interest in intimacy, feel empty, and feel hopeless about the future. Irritability and restlessness can distort your judgment and drive a wedge between you and your partner. You may notice changes in eating more or less, or trouble sleeping. While dealing with your own sadness, your connection with your partner is neglected.
It's a vicious cycle, where all of this causes fighting and builds resentment between the two of you. Often, one or both of you withdraws or shuts down, which ends up making your depression worse.
But you can stop this cycle before it damages your relationship. Here are simple, manageable tips to help.
1. Don't Beat Yourself Up
You might feel self-critical, guilty, or feel unworthy of your partner. Instead of beating yourself up, remember that even though your feeling depressed, you still have all of those great qualities that your partner loves. Embrace the fact that you are always worthy and deserving love.
2. Don't Stay Stuck in the Past
If you have had a bad relationship in the past, don't take it out on your current partner. Bad relationships are how we learn from mistakes. But you may become overly protective or create problems in your current relationship that don't exist. It's essential to learn to separate old wounds from your current relationship. Focus on the here and now, and the relationship between the two of you.
3. It's Not Just Your Partner's Job to Make You Happy, It's Yours!
It is great to get love and comfort from your partner when you're feeling low. But it's not doing you any favors to depend solely on them, all the time. The truth is, you have to also think about how you're contributing to your own happiness. Are you taking care of yourself? Working too much? Are you eating well, getting enough sleep, and making time for friends? Taking ownership of your own emotional wellness will build your confidence and will actually help you to enjoy your partner more.
4. Show Your Partner You Care
Depression makes you focus more on the negative aspects of your partner. Make sure when he or she comes in the door in the evening, don't launch into everything that went wrong that day. Instead, show them you're happy to see them. Give them a hug and kiss. Ask about their day. Thank them for playing with the kids or for making you laugh. Your partner will appreciate hearing the good things. And as an added bonus, it will make you feel better, too. Practicing gratitude daily on a daily basis may help ease the symptoms of depression.
5. Therapy Helps
Either go by yourself, or go as a couple. Remember that it's hard for your partner to know how you feel, especially if they have not experienced depression. A therapist can help you figure out a plan together so that you're working as a team to stop the depression from harming your relationship. And talk to your doctor about medication, as it is very beneficial for many people.
Whatever changes you decide to make, make them now! The sooner you can turn things around, the better you both are going to feel -- and the better chance you have of getting through the depression with a healthy, happy relationship intact.
For more by Dr. Shannon Kolakowski, click here.
For more on relationships, click here.
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