My girlfriend has depression (+How can I help)

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This article will show how to notice if your girlfriend has depression. What are its symptoms and signs you should be aware of, and how you can be supportive and help them overcome this moment. Aside from that, the article explained why it is also important to take care of yourself at this moment.

Family Counseling
Family Counseling

My girlfriend has depression. How can I help?

Having a girlfriend dealing with depression can be an intense experience. It might change how they see the world, and how they behave. It can even have an impact on the relationship. 

You might have not dealt with this before, and it can be overwhelming at first. You can feel helpless, sometimes under a lot of pressure, and this can all make you feel guilty because you wanted to do a better job helping them.

To help you deal with all of this, let’s discuss some ways that might help you navigate this situation a little better. 

Inform yourself 

If this is the first time you are dealing with someone with depression, it might be important for you to learn more about this condition. Understand that being depressed is not a choice and that people feel its symptoms, usually, for a prolonged period, although they can change over time.

Know that people with depression are usually sad, and feel like their life lost its porpoise while feeling empty as well. It might be important for you to know what are the main symptoms of depression so you can understand a little better your girlfriend’s behavior. The main symptoms are:

  • Intense sadness
  • Loss of hope
  • Change in eating pattern
  • Change in sleeping pattern
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to love
  • Fatigue
  • Guilt
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Feeling worthless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble focusing
  • Pains and headaches
  • Excessive crying
  • Thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts

If you are aware that these are the symptoms they can show, it might make it easier for you to not take any backlash personally, and be supportive of their needs. 

Be present 

Admitting you don’t have all the answers is important at this moment. It will help you deal better with the sense of helplessness, and will also allow you both to go through this together. But asking how they are feeling, making yourself present can be extremely important.

Ask them what they need, show them how much you care. And even though you don’t always know what to do, try to find support groups or professionals that can help her as well.

Encourage treatment 

If your girlfriend is still not in treatment, or if they are considering quitting it, it might be important for you to encourage them to maintain it. Tell them how you have noticed their symptoms, anyhow this concerns you.

Let them know you are willing to help in what is needed for them to go to treatment, including maybe accompanying them. If they are considering changing their line of treatment, you can discuss with them what they think it’s better. 

Let them know what improvements you have noticed in them, even though it might be hard for them to go to the appointments. This can help motivate them to stick to it. 

Establish a support network 

Get in touch with friends and family members that can be a part of their support network with you. Do that as soon as you can. Dealing with depression is a process, your girlfriend won’t feel better from one moment to the other. 

You will need help so you can keep some sense of normalcy in your life. You will still need to go to work, have some time for yourself. And as soon as you have more people around the better. This will also help you maintain a supportive home environment.

You might divide with other people that are part of the support network how one can help your girlfriend with eating healthy, another friend may offer to take up exercising with them. All of this can help to lower the stress at home.

It is important to give them positive reinforcement when you notice they have done something that they thought would be hard. Making plans together can also be a good thing. Even though they might lose interest in a lot, find some activities you can do together, it can be going to the movies or a hike.

Set small goals 

When a person is depressed they are so overwhelmed by all of their feelings. So try to not add up to this when suggesting something for them to do. A good way to do this is by setting small goals, for example, if they are looking for a new job, instead of telling them to update the resume, you can tell them to do a cover letter first.

This will help them focus on one thing at a time. You might also suggest doing things together, for example washing the dishes. This will help them commit to doing it.

Be aware of suicide risk

Some people, when depressed, might be so overwhelmed by it all that they can consider suicide. This happens especially when the person is going through a major depressive episode.  The main signs a person is considering suicide are:

  • Talking about it or death
  • Start to find means to do it, it can be by getting pills or getting a gun
  • Extreme mood swings
  • They get even more isolated
  • The lack of hope is even more intense
  • Start engaging in risky behaviors
  • Giving away their belongings
  • Saying goodbye

While all of this might feel too intense, it is important for you to not forget to take care of yourself.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself

When you are supporting someone with depression you can easily overlook your own mental health, and even your own needs. Trying to help them should be a part of your life, and not become the whole of it. You should set some boundaries for this, and try to stick to them. 

While being present for them, try to set a time for yourself. For that, the first you need to do is to set up an ample support network. Having some of her friends or family members as a part of that will allow you to get some time off when needed without feeling like you abandon them, or feel guilty about it. 

Know that if you don’t take some time to support your own needs, in time this can lead to burnout or even depression. Have in mind that the better you are feeling the better caregiver you will be.

There are some things you can do as a form of self-care. For example:

  • Try to have a good night’s sleep
  • Eat well
  • Exercise
  • Maintain some hobbies
  • Meditate as a way to calm and center yourself
  • Have fun with people you love

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): How can I help my girlfriend that has depression?

Why is my girlfriend angry with me when she is depressed? 

She is not angry at you when she is depressed. Even though it might seem hard to understand, and not take it personally when a person is depressed they become more irritable. 

This can cause any frustration or even a slight feeling of being a burden to you can cause them to act angry. Depression also causes them to go through intense mood swings, and you might just have said something when they weren’t feeling okay.

The key to dealing with all of it is not taking it personally. They will feel extremely guilty about this in no time, and might even apologize. Accept it, and let them know you get that it wasn’t personal.

What causes depression? 

Depression can be caused by many things. People can get depressed because they are going through a traumatic situation such as the loss of a loved one. Financial or legal problems can also cause people to get depressed. It might also happen because there is an imbalance in the person’s brain chemistry.

People that have gone through depressive episodes or have a family history of depression can get depressed easier. As a way to prevent it, people should take care not only of their physical health but of their mental health as well.

Should I break up with my girlfriend because she is depressed? 

Your girlfriend having depression is no reason for you to break up with them. A person with depression, although going through a lot, is still capable of being a loving and caring partner.

What you should be aware of is if the relationship is causing any trouble for your mental health. For that, take care of yourself, and respect your boundaries. If you do that, it is more likely that your relationship will be able to handle this situation and you will both get stronger from it.

How long does depression last? 

The length of a depressive episode varies according to the type of depression. If a person is experiencing a mild form of depression, the episode can go on for a few days, but if it goes longer than that, it might be that the person is experiencing moderate or major depression.

The professional that is caring for them will define them based on the intensity of their symptoms. If they are experiencing a persistent depressive episode, it can go longer, around two years. 

But it won’t be that during the two years their symptoms will be intense as the ones of major depression. It can vary, and the person can go from intense symptoms to more mild ones over two years. 

Does depression have a cure?

No, depression doesn’t have a cure. Instead, people usually refer to depression getting into remission. That happens because it is highly impossible to affirm that a person will never experience a depressive episode again.

So professionals usually define depression treatment with its main goals being that the symptoms will become less intense and the person will be able to get back to their regular activities. 

It might be that as a way to prevent another episode of depression they might need to make some lifestyle changes. But when they are in remission it means that their sense of well-being has been improving over time. 

Conclusion

This article discussed how you can help a girlfriend that has depression. Aside from that, the article showed what are ways you can tell if your girlfriend has depression if they haven’t been diagnosed yet. 

The article also explained how important it is for you to take care of yourself doing this process so you can be part of their support network.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.

References

https://www.healthline.com/health/relationships/dating-someone-with-depression#set-boundaries
https://www.psycom.net/help-partner-deal-with-depression/

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