How Depression affects Relationships
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Yvonne Williams MSc BSc BACP (accred) UKRCP reg
24th April, 20130 Comments
Do you identify with experiences and symptoms such as significant tiredness, weight loss or gain, an anxious or panic state, negative thoughts, low mood, numbness or suicidal thoughts? Do you turn to addictive behaviours such as alcohol, drugs or sex, as a way of coping? For those of you who identify with some of these experiences and symptoms, it may be that you’re stuck in a cycle, which at times can make the world a fearful place. It might be helpful to explore what underlies these experiences to help you move forward.
The symptoms and experiences described are commonly associated with depression, which can be mild, moderate or acute. It can affect your relationships with family, friends, colleagues or partners.
Are you suffering from depressive symptoms?
Do you find yourself withdrawing emotionally or sexually from your partner? Do you struggle to ask for help from your manager or work colleagues, and find yourself struggling to perform your role? Do you find that your tolerance level is low and that you become reactive to situations rather than proactive?
The starting point in working through this difficult time is to gain a better awareness and understanding of the origins of and triggers for your depression. The next step would be to acknowledge that you are struggling and that you need help with combating the issue(s). This can often be addressed through seeking counselling or psychotherapy. However, self management is also another option. Whether you decide to go into therapy or use self management, it is important to address the negative thought processes that may underlie your experiences. Negative thoughts can lead to a vicious cycle, where you find yourself feeling hopeless or stuck. It is through the process of tackling these thoughts and getting in touch with your positive thoughts that you can help to release yourself from this cycle. This can be achieved through re-addressing balance in your life and re-enforcing positive resources, which can give you a release and evoke a "feel-good" factor.
The activities below are beneficial in achieving and maintaining healthy well-being:
- Talking with significant others about your troubles;
- Going to see your GP;
- Going to the cinema, theatre etc;
- Taking up a hobby or interest;
- Meeting up with friends regularly;
- Re-building communication with significant others whom you have withdrawn from;
- Reciting or recording positive achievements for the day;
- Writing a journal to express your thoughts and feelings each day, to help tackle the cycle of negative thinking.
Depression is a journey for the individual and those around them. It is important to maintain communication, set realistic goals and regain the joy in your life. By taking steps to improve your own well being, it can help the negative effect that depression may have had on those around you.
The effect on loved ones
It can be difficult for the person who is suffering with depression, as well as their loved ones. Having a depressed partner can leave you feeling helpless or confused, not understanding what is happening nor how you can help.
Some tools for the loved ones or friends of a person suffering from depression are:
- Research: The common saying ‘Knowledge is Power’ can be applied here. By researching and collecting information about depression, you can gain more understanding about what your loved one is experiencing. This can help your feelings of helplessness or powerlessness, when it comes to supporting them through this difficult time.
- Try to be as realistic as possible: Recovery from depression can be a gradual process. The amount of time it takes to recuperate from depression will vary and be unique to the individual. It helps for those around them not to expect the appearance of a magic wand to instantly make their world better. It will take time.
- Taking care of your own well being: Have a look at the tips described above and try to remember the importance of your own well being.
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