Relationships can be tough at the best of times, but when your partner is going through depression, it can be very testing for both people in the relationship.
People are often told how to deal with their own mental health problems but for those in love it is a two-man battle. We have put together some advice with relationships charity, OnePlusOne, on how to support a partner with mental health problems and survive it yourself.
1. Do your research
The first step to being able to support your partner is to be able to understand what they are going through. Read around the subject as much as you can using the NHS guides and stories from real-life experiences. If you can start to see things through your partner's eyes, it will be a lot easier to understand why they act the way they do.
2. Mind your words
The process of watching a partner go through anxiety or depression can be incredibly frustrating and you might want to tell them to 'snap out of it' or constantly remind them how much hard work they are being. However, if it was as simple as just 'getting over it' they would not be in the position they are. Placing blame and shaming your partner is only going to increase their feelings of stress and worry, so remember to bite your tongue before anything you might regret slips out!
3. List out triggers
There might be certain things that can trigger off downward spirals of anxiety or depression, so by identifying these potential triggers you can help your partner work towards dealing with them. Examples of triggers could be talking about a certain subject, visiting a particular place, spending time with large groups people etc. By reducing the likelihood of being triggered, your partner will feel more able to find the strength in themselves to work towards recovery.
4. Share your experience
Obviously it would be unfair to talk publicly about your partner's mental health without their express permission. However, it can be draining feeling like you are supporting someone alone, particularly if you feel unsupported yourself. If there are friends or family you can speak to in confidence or people online you could chat to anonymously, this can help lift the weight off your shoulders and you might pick up some useful advice along the way! If none of these are an option, it can be useful to write down your feelings/frustrations in a notepad to make sure you are releasing your thoughts.
5. Join in with the solution
If your partner has been to see a GP or counsellor, or is simply working with some self-help, then having you joining in by their side will keep them on track. For depression they might have been recommended yoga, mindfulness or to keep a mood diary, which are all things that both of you could do together. This will help your partner not feel so alone when they are down and struggling to find their motivation.
6. Discover your most ideal coping mechanism
There may be times where you feel like you can't cope. It always helps to have a plan for what YOU want to do when these situations occur. Some ideas might be that it would be good to leave the house and go for a walk alone, see a close friend, pop to the shops for some retail therapy or just dive into a good book. If you're feeling on edge you are much more likely to say something you might regret and your capacity for support will be lowered, so be sure to remember to take care of yourself as well.
7. Know that things can get better
Keeping the end goal in sight is key for both yourself and your partner. By working on mental health issues together you are likely to strengthen your relationship and come out the other side closer than ever.