Ah, it seems you have fallen in love. Everything is wonderful and right with the world. The beginning of your relationship was fun and exciting, but now you’re getting to really know each other and that comes with some challenges. You realize your partner is anxious, maybe even depressed. If you have never experienced this yourself, dealing with a loved one with anxiety or depression can be distressing. Have no fear, I would like to share a few tips with you to help you understand, cope, and support your partner.
First, it’s important that we dissect a little what anxiety and depression are. They can occur solo or be intertwined. It’s important to be knowledgeable about both. Anxiety is described and a feeling of fear or uneasiness, persistent worries typically about everyday situations. These fears can be consuming, cause fatigue, and interfere with daily life. Reading this descriptor it’s easy to see how depression can follow suit. Depression is described as a persistent low mood, loss of interest, and hopelessness.
Now that we have a bit more of an understanding, let’s move on to the tips:
1. Manage your reactions to anxiety/depression. “There’s nothing to be afraid of!” “Everything is ok, you have no reason to be sad right now” – boy, this one is a hard one. We hear this one a lot. Try your best not to explain to your spouse that she/he shouldn’t be afraid of X thing or why he/she shouldn’t be sad. Those with anxiety often know that their fears are somewhat far fetched and disregarding that makes them typically feel worse. Those with depression will often feel they have let you down, making them feel worse. It’s best to ask and explore why she/he feels down. Help them process and talk it out with you. Some with depression might not even be sure why they are feeling depressed, but your support will mean the world to them.
2. Encourage your partner to go to therapy (and maybe you go to therapy too!) Try couple’s therapy or both get individual therapists. You and the therapists can work together to help your partner manage symptoms as well and help you in providing support, deepen understanding, and manage stress related to dealing with anxiety/ depression in your partner. It’s hard for you too, don’t sell yourself short by thinking it can be handled alone. It is difficult to see your partner struggling.
3. Create a healthy environment. Those experiencing anxiety and/or depression might become overwhelmed or disengage with healthy activities such as exercise, eating healthy foods, sticking with therapy, going to work, or spending time with friends. It’s important to be supportive and make them feel safe with consistency. Hey, like I said before: we all need a little help sometimes.
Overall, you can see communication and offering a sense of support is the biggest component in helping your partner (and you) deal with this hurdle. We know it can be stressful, but it can also be an opportunity to learn and grow with your partner creating deeper connections.