Depression comes in many forms, some of them not being recognizable as such. Living with a depressed partner can be a huge problem, particularly when they may be blaming you for their problems.
Being around a chronically depressed partner or mate requires special understanding and a willingness to help them work through their depression. It takes a special person to do the things necessary to cope with your partner's depression.
Depression has led to relationship break-ups when the depressed person is convinced that their partner is the cause of the depression. While they may contribute to the ailment, the partner is not the cause.
It is also true that break-ups cause depression, but not usually of the clinical variety. A break-up involving an already depressed person could lead to greater depression and increased thoughts of worthlessness and even suicide.
Everyone experiences non-clinical depression at times. When we have had a loss in the family or a set-back at work or a negative change in our plans we often experience minor depression. We feel sad, but this passes.
Clinical Depression Defined
Clinical depression is a mental disorder that is usually characterized by any five of the following symptoms occurring at the same time:
* A sad mood during much of the day.
* Fatigue or energy loss every day.
* Guilty or worthless feelings.
* Inability to concentrate.
* Insomnia or the reverse, hypersomnia almost every day.
* Disinterest in most activities.
* Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.
* Restlessness, inability to sit still.
* A significant weight loss or gain in a short period.
* Persistent aches and pains, cramps, headaches or digestive problems.
These symptoms may also be caused by medication for a variety of illnesses. If unaccompanied by medication, they are most likely the signs of clinical depression. If the symptoms are present for more than two weeks, medical assistance should be sought.
Causes and Treatment of Clinical Depression
The causes of depression are myriad and include: Biological problems, heredity, psychological and psycho-social problems and long-term drug use. If a propensity for depression exists, it may be brought on by pressures in relationships, careers or tragic life events.
The treatment of depression usually involves drugs, psychological counseling and therapy. Depression may never be cured, but it can be managed with proper treatment.
Some forms of depression are cyclical or seasonal, occurring during seasonal changes or periodically, triggered by calendar events or holidays. In women, estrogen may be responsible for bouts of depression.
Some over-the-counter herbal remedies may be effective; St. John's wort, omega3 fatty acids, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), are a few studied. Physical exercise has also been shown to be effective in abating the symptoms.
Left alone, the condition will sometimes correct itself over time. The real worry is, however, the harm an inflicted person may render to themselves. Suicide is a very real threat with clinical depression.
Dealing with Depression in Your Partner
First of all you have to understand that clinical depression is a disease. It is not a conscious choice for a person to be depressed, in fact if they had a choice, they wouldn't be depressed.
You have to be very understanding of what your depressed partner is going through. Recognize the symptoms and encourage them to seek treatment if the symptoms persist.
You must be sympathetic, gentle and supportive. You cannot ignore the symptoms, but you may try to nullify them by involving your partner in physical activities; take them to the health club, take a long sports-walk or something similar.
You may also try to keep them interested in other activities that involve interaction with other people. Don't leave them alone to wallow in their despair. Be there for them, even though it is very trying and tough on you.
Also, you must do everything within your power to assure your partner that you are not causing their mental problems. You must be loving, attentive and calming without being over solicitous.
Try to remove or diminish whatever is causing the depression, if it is something within your control. Maybe a change of scenery, or locale will help.
Seek the assistance of your clergyman. If you don't have a parish membership, seek one out. The calming effect of finding and practicing a religious faith can heal many mental problems.
Your priest, pastor, rabbi or other religious leader is familiar with many of the problems faced by their parishioners and many of them have received formal training in how to address these issues.
If a partner's depression has led to a separation, divorce or break-up because the depressed partner was convinced that you are the root of their problems, there is little you can do.
You may be dealing with your own depression over the break-up and should probably seek counseling yourself.