A lack of understanding when it comes to mental illness makes many people treat clinical depression in other like an easily solvable problem, when in fact it’s anything but that.
When you’re ready to talk to a depressed partner about how they’re feeling and how you can help, there are a lot of wrong things to say. Learn how to approach the situation carefully and respectfully, so your words don’t do more harm than good.
Start by Acknowledging That Depression Is an Illness
If you think depression is just something you can snap out of, you might end making your partner feel even worse. Personal weakness has nothing to do with a chemical imbalance in the brain which can’t go away if the person who’s going through it just wishes that enough. When you’re worried that your partner might be depressed, have an open conversation about it, while acknowledging that there are treatments available for it.
Don’t Try to Offer Solutions to Something You Can’t Solve
The biggest mistake you can make when you talk to a depressed partner is to offer solutions you think are perfectly reasonable, when in fact they’re insulting. Working out and getting out more can’t cure depression, no more than you can will away a tumor.
See also: 10 Things You Should Never Say to a Guy
Listen Without Judging
One of the best things you can do for a depressed partner is just to listen. Don’t interrupt and don’t judge them, especially when they’re finally opening up to you about how they feel. You don’t have to have problems in your life to get depressed and ending the conversation with “other people have it much worse” may be factually true, but it’s never helpful.
Avoid Recommending Positive Thinking
While positive thinking is a great tool for someone who doesn’t suffer from depression, it’s important to leave it out when you talk to a depressed partner. While many depressed people never try it, most find that it doesn’t help since it creates a loop of negativity: trying to be positive doesn’t yield results, so that’s one more thing they fail at.
Don’t Tell Your Partner You Know What They’re Going Through
Unless you’ve suffered from clinical depression yourself, you don’t know what it’s like and you shouldn’t presume you do. Many people go through dark times, but the inability to move on beyond that, no matter how much good stuff is happening in your life is a symptom of this mental illness. If you want to be supportive, just say that you can’t imagine what they’re going through, but you can try to by listening.
Quit Implying Your Partner Is Bringing You Down
It’s perfectly normal to feel down yourself when you talk to a depressed partner, but you should always try to keep that to yourself. Isolation is a big part of depression, and if your boyfriend or husband feels like opening up to you is harming you, they’ll feel guilty about it and try to protect you from it, adding more pressure to their issues.
See also: How to Convince Him You're the One
Offer to Be There Without Making Them Feel Guilty
For many people who suffer through depression, opening up can feel like emotional blackmail. The subtext of “I’m unhappy” can often be misconstrued as “You’re not doing enough to stop me from feeling unhappy”. That’s why you should always be extra careful when it comes to guilt, since making your man feel guilty about being depressed is just piling on.
Ask About Suicidal Thoughts
If may not be the most pleasant part of a conversation when you talk to a depressed partner, but you shouldn’t be afraid to bring it up. Suicide becomes a real option for many depressed people when they feel like they can’t stand another day of feeling so miserable.
Don’t Try to Keep Them Under Constant Surveillance
Unlike anxiety, when being physically there can help alleviate symptoms, you can’t cure depression just by surrounding someone with happy people. Unless there’s a big risk of suicide, don’t make your partner feel like someone who needs constant surveillance.
Telling him that he won’t always feel this way may be ultimate useless, but it’s important when you talk to a depressed partner. Even if he doesn’t believe it, hearing it may just convince him that it’s time to get help.