Living with someone with depression is difficult. And the burden that can have the caregiver of the person with depression can determine the mental health of this. It seems, then, that having a partner with depression can be a challenge in a person’s life.
Also, compared to other family members, taking the place of the partner of a person with depression is much more complicated. If you live with that person or you are simply related to them in a narrow way, a lot of load factors will be presented.
It may even happen that the couple assumes the depressive symptoms of the person with depression as their fault. This highlights the “family” character of depression, which is capable of generating a great impact on the lives of family members of those affected by it.
How to adapt to life with a partner with depression?
Within a couple’s relationship, the practical changes made in it must occur, in some way, parallel to the development of a new self. This new development allows both the person affected by depression and their partner to start moving forward in their lives.
Thus, with respect to adapting to the depression of the couple, the experts consider that there are several phases. These would be:
- The adaptation phase.
- The recovery phase.
- Obtaining a new perspective.
These phases as a whole could allow obtaining a new perspective integrating depression in the life of a couple. It is about finding a balance in which you show concern and love, maintaining emotional distance and limiting your responsibility.
Another emotional strategy that can be very favorable in this situation is the fact of opening up to receive support.
The care of the couple with depression
Having a care relationship with a person affected by depression is complicated. It is a psychosocial and cyclical process to which the caregivers submit, which is not static and which often requires external support.
In the case of the couple, couple therapy can be useful in early stages to help the person affected by depression and their partner to understand and make sense of interpersonal changes. It can also be favorable to understand and anticipate new family dynamics as they arise.
Address the stigma
Addressing the stigma associated with depression is critical in order to manage real and perceived structural barriers. The search for professional support, both by the person affected by depression and by their caregivers, has to be normalized in order to cope with this disorder.
Many times, stigma is what stops people with depression from seeking help. That is why continuing to address this problem until eradicating it is so important. With this, the couple or caregivers of the depressive person can be helped to “overcome the challenges”. This can encourage them to turn to professionals for help both for themselves and for those affected by depression.
Self-pity and self-care
It is necessary, as a caregiver of a person with depression, to reach a certain point of self-pity through self-care of oneself.
This can help to accept the illness of the couple and take care of their own emotional needs as they move forward and begin to accept the new challenges of life, such as caring for a depressed companion or family member (1).
It has been shown in several studies that mindfulness (which includes self-pity training) can be favorable in those people who have links with people with depression.
Mindfulness can help people who live with a partner with depression, since it favors the advance towards a feeling of security with respect to their role as caregivers.
It seems clear that more research is needed on the subject. However, the conclusion we can obtain is that it is important that the caregiver of the person with depression is aware of their psychological needs, as well as the support that their environment can provide.