When living with a partner who suffers from depression, it can be easy to let your own needs slip to the wayside.
Naturally, you’ll be worried about your loved one’s mental and physical health and you’ll want to focus all of your attention on helping him or her through the recovery stage.
However, in doing so, you may find that you’re neglecting your own health, wellbeing and personal life. Research shows that many people who are the partner of a person who suffers from depression can develop the illness themselves, so it’s very important that you take the time to care for yourself.
So what steps can you take in order to look after yourself? Aileen McWey, Head of Services at mental health charity SANE gives us some guidance:
Inform yourself about the condition
Simply knowing more about depression can be helpful. This can also inform you about the support and treatment options available. You can learn more about depression on the SANE website.
Let other people know about the situation
One of the simplest ways of getting support is to let other people know about the situation. By talking openly about your partner’s mental illness with your close family, friends or colleagues, you can ‘normalize’ the situation. You may also find it helpful to share the information you have about depression with others to help them understand both the condition and your situation.
Talking to your GP may also be helpful as a supportive measure in itself. They may be able to explore other support options with you.
Join a carer support group
If your partner’s depression is severe and/or long term, this can be debilitating for both of you. You may like to consider making contact with others who are in a similar position. It can be a relief simply to know you’re not alone and that other people understand your feelings, thoughts and emotions based on their own experiences.
SANE offers a support forum for families, friends and carers on its website as well as a helpline and email service where you can get emotional support and explore options for carer support in your local area.
Follow SANE’s Black Dog Campaign
The Black Dog Campaign aims to promote awareness of mental health problems such as depression and encourage people to be more open about their experiences. Go here to find out how you can get involved in the campaign.
For more help and advice, read Living with a partner with depression on the CoupleConnection.