My GirlFriend Has Depression What Do I Do? (6 ways to help)

In today’s blog post we take into consideration the ways when girlfriend has depression. A common question asked by a number of individuals include,’My girlfriend has depression.. What do I do?’ We begin the discussion by understanding what depression is, its symptoms and causes, after which we move to understand depression in females/women. We then proceed to understand the various ways depression in the partner can impact the relationship and finally we take into account the means through which one can help his/ her girlfriend through depression.

Depression not only affects the person who is suffering from it, but also in turn affects the entire relationship. It is not only difficult for the person who suffers from depression but also a tough task for the partner. 

My Girlfriend Has Depression

When one’s girlfriend has depression, it can also take a toll on the partner as it can be difficult for them to comprehend and they may think there might not be much that they can do to help their partner cope with it.

We discuss ways to support when girlfriend has depression:

  • Be compassionate
  • Learn how to support when your partner is suffering
  • Focus on the positives
  • Have your own language
  • Understand and accept her healing strategies
  • Motivate her to seek therapy

Depression:

Depression can be understood as a mood disorder which is often accompanied by persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest. Depression is distinctly different from the regular mood fluctuations that a person may experience as a part of their everyday life. 

There can be a number of reasons for a person to be experiencing depression such as disturbed family dynamics, loss of a job, death of a loved one, family history of depression and the role of genetics, alcohol and substance abuse and traumatic events. To be diagnosed with depression, a person must consistently experience the symptoms for at least 2 weeks.

Certain classic symptoms of depression include loss of interest in the usual activities, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, fatigue and loss of energy, slow and deliberate movements, racy thoughts, difficulty in thinking clearly, concentrating and memory issues. In severe cases, the symptoms may also interfere in social and occupational functioning.

Depression in females:

Because the topic of discussion centres around the depression in one’s girlfriend, we need to take into account the symptoms of depression in females. It has to be noted that the prevalence of depression is two times higher as compared to men.

The symptoms of depression in females is similar to those that are found in the males. 

Causes:

  • Premenstrual problems:

Many women experience problems during the menstrual cycle which can be similar to the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) such as bloating, fatigue, irritability and heightened emotional reactivity.

  • Pregnancy and fertility issues:

Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy also puts the women at the risk of depression, and more so if they already have a family history of depression. Additionally misscarriage, abortion and unwanted pregancy can also put the woman at a risk of developing depression. 

Post child birth, women may also experience postpartum depression, also known as the baby blues and it usually subsides a few weeks post delivery. However, for a few women, the impact may be more severe. 

  • Physiological response to stress:

Women tend to produce more stress hormone as compared to men. The sex hormone, progestrone does not allow the stress hormone system to shut of automatically as in the case of men. Due to the constant stress, women are physiologically more prone to developing depression as compared to men.

  • Body image issues:

One of the major contributors of depression in women are the body images issues. Women often perceive that they may not fit the society established standards of beauty, which leads them to hate their own body. They are made to believe that they would look good and desirable only if they look a particular way. This significantly hampers their self-esteem, making them susceptible to developing depression. 

  • Trauma and abuse:

History of childhood trauma or an unresolved trauma as well as a history of abuse (physical, sexaul, emotional, economical) can trigger depression. Along with it the person may also experience PTSD like symptoms which may severely hamper their capacity to have meaningful relationships.

  • Other factors:

Other factors that may trigger depression in women may be marital discord, family conflict, history of depression in the family, facing descrimination, monetary issues and familial responsibilities.

Depression and relationships:

  • When one of the partners in a relationship suffers from depression, it becomes difficult for both the partners to have a stable and fulfilling relationship. This is primarily because one of the partners may get so overwhelmed by the symptoms that it may get difficult for them to have a clear communication in the relationship. They may perceive themselves as being a burden in the relationship and may feel like they are getting in the way of the relationship and making things difficult for the partner.
  • This may further push them into rumination and isolation and lower their self-esteem and they may also experience a significant amount of guilt. 
  • On the other hand, the partner may also find it exhausting, draining and upsetting. The other partner may have to take a lot in their hands which includes caring for the depressed partner, looking after the family and the house, running the expenses etc. 
  • Additionally, partners may often report that although they are aware of their girlfriend’s condition, they feel helpless as they are not able to help them.
  • There may be a significant amount of disagreements and fights between the couple when one of the partners suffers from depression. It may get difficult for the other partner to cope with the symptoms.
  • A lot of times partners struggle with understanding how to cure or deal with the girlfriend’s depression. The key to helping the partner is understanding the partner’s symptoms, their reactions and their triggers and accepting them the way they are.
  • It also involves the couple to develop their own mechanism of dealing with a pattern of behaviour, in a way that it works for both of them and the relationship.  

Ways to support when girlfriend has depression:

Accepting the partner the way they are, forming new relational skills can help the couple come closer to each other, even when the girlfriend has depression. It also requires an acceptance that the other partner’s needs may not always be fulfilled when the girlfriend has depression  and the partner may need to learn adaptive ways to fulfil their needs. 

  • Be compassionate:

Being compassionate towards the partner would essentially mean understanding and accepting that the girlfriend has an illness and being empathetic towards the fact that the partner may be going through a lot of emotional trauma and understanding that they are not at fault. This would be one of the best ways to support when girlfriend has depression.

  • Learn how to support when your partner is suffering:

The symptoms of depression may manifest differently for different people and it is important to understand that it can be the case when girlfriend is suffering from depression as well. This makes it extremely important for the partner to understand the kind of care his or her girlfriend would need. It is necessary for them to understand the behaviours that would make them comfortable and the ones that may put them off. 

In all of this, it is necessary for the partner to understand that they must avoid making their girlfriend be aware of how much they are caring or the efforts they are taking. This is likely to make the girlfriend more guilty and they may feel as though they are a burden.

  • Focusing on the positives:

A good way of helping when your girlfriend has depression  is to remain positive and hopeful about the future. If there is negativity appearing from the partner’s end, it is likely to make the girlfriend feel even more distressed about the thing.  This can be done by doing activities that focus on the positive qualities of the girlfriend. 

  • Have your own language:

Each relationship has its own language. If the partner is able to formulate a new language that is; a pattern of communication when girlfriend has depression in a way that extrudes compassion, empathy, understanding and love, it may go a long way in helping the girlfriend feel safer, positive and motivated. This may also help the girlfriend feel more validated and may promote closeness in the relationship.The pattern of communication should indicate support and not defensiveness.

  • Understand and accept her healing strategies:

Each person has his or her own healing strategies. If the partner is able to provide support and validation to the girlfriend’s healing strategies, it is likely to help her feel motivated to use them to cope with the depression.

  • Motivate her to seek therapy:

Reminding the girlfriend that there is professional help available can help both the partners deal with their emotions better and strengthen their relationship. Professional help may be very important in this prospect as the partner may not be able to be a doctor or a therapist to the girlfriend. 

Therapy may allow for certain breakthroughs not only for the girlfriend but also for the partner as the partner may experience compassion fatigue by being a constant caregiver. Therapy may also give the couple a chance to explore new ways of dealing with the situation and enhancing the relationship.

Lastly, it is important for the partner to be aware that they have their needs to and may experience anger, irritation, sadness, fatigue themselves while taking care of the girlfriend. Therefore, whenever possible, the partner should take some time off, engage in self-care in order to avoid compassion fatigue and burnout.

Frequently Asked Questions: My Girlfriend Has Depression

What is the major cause of depression?

Life events and daily hassles are likely to be a major cause of depression.

These events include death of a loved one, trauma, abuse, injury or accidents etc.
Is there a depression gene?

Scientists believe that as many as 40 percent of those with depression can be  traced to the genes. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. 

What percentage of girls are depressed?

Between 2009 and 2014, 36.1 percent of girls reported depression, compared to 13.6 percent of boys who reported depression.

What gender is most affected by depression?

Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.

What is it like to date someone with anxiety?

When dating someone with anxiety,communication may be even more unsteady and unpredictable. There can be rumination, irrational beliefs and fears that the partner may have.

Conclusion:

In today’s blog post we take into consideration the ways to care for the partner who may be suffering from depression. A common question asked by a number of individuals include,’My girlfriend has depression.. What do I do?’ We begin the discussion by understanding what depression is, its symptoms and causes, after which we move to understand depression in females/women. We then proceed to understand the various ways depression in the partner can impact the relationship and finally we take into account the means through which one can help his/ her girlfriend through depression.

I hope this blog post was successful in helping the readers understand different ways of taking care of their partner during her depression. Please feel free to drop any comments and queries in the section below.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/8933#treatment

https://www.relate.org.uk/relationship-help/help-relationships/mental-health/relationships-and-depression

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-sex/201605/5-tips-dating-someone-who-struggles-depression

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/11-ways-to-be-an-effective-partner-when-your-girlfriend-or-wife-has-depression-anxiety/

https://unsplash.com/photos/LaHo9Set3bI?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

https://unsplash.com/photos/rCyiK4_aaWw?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditShareLink

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