Dealing with depression is a difficult, time-intensive process, but dating someone else with depression carries with it a whole different set of challenges. Your partners struggles may make you feel confused or helpless. You may take things personally that are really just manifestations of your partner's own troubles. But learning how to effectively deal with these challenges and how to date someone with depression can lead to a stronger, more supportive relationship for both of you.
Broadly speaking, there are three major steps you can take if you want to know how to date someone with depression: educate yourself, get to know your partner, and be actively supportive of him or her.
Learn everything you can about depression. Focus not only on what you can do, but also try to study through your partner's eyes. If you read the same material, especially if you do it together, you'll be able to help each other learn. An active attempt to understand his illness will show him that you take him seriously and that he can trust you to be involved as he confronts his disease.
Pay attention to your partner's medications and know what effects and side effects to expect. Many antidepressants cause a wide variety of negative side effects, so by educating yourself in advance, you'll be better prepared when those side effects appear.
Understand Your Partner
You will never fully understand what depression does to your partner. Accept this. But also remember the importance of getting to know your loved one's mood and temperament. With some time and effort, you'll come to know how depression specifically affects your loved one and how he chooses to confront it.
One area to pay close attention is your partner's triggers. Every person has a unique set of events that can bring on a depressive episode. By knowing what irritates your partner, you will not only be able to help her avoid those things, but you will also be able to position yourself as a place of support when something out of your control does set your partner off.
This may be easier for couples who have been together a long time, but it never hurts, even in the beginning of a relationship, to try to learn a person's moods better. In fact, a conscious effort on your part to understand the way your partner works can bring you together more quickly than if she weren't depressed.
Support Your Partner
Ultimately, the most important thing you can de is support your loved one. This can mean simply being there for him or her when the depression is really bad, but it also means taking active steps to let him or her know that you will be there no matter what. Know what activities pull your partner out of a depressive phase and be prepared to suggest/insist upon those things when you sense your partner might need it.
Remember, as the non-depressive, you must be the emotionally stable one. Even when your partner attacks you emotionally (and it will happen), accept that it is the disease who is talking and not the person you love. You must weather these attacks without counter-attacking, which will only serve to deepen the person's depression. You are allowed to let your emotions show and to have breakdowns of your own from time to time, but try to maintain a calm demeanor around your partner whenever possible.
Sometimes, it gets to be too much. If you or your partner are having troubling coping with the stresses of depression, find a therapist or support group that can teach you how to date someone with depression. This is especially true if there are times you worry your partner will hurt herself or you. A professional will be able to suggest additional resources or treatment options.
This article was originally published on PsyWeb.com