Supporting a Partner with Depression - Expert Advice on How to Help

Mental Health

Man holding his partner’s hand in order to comfort and support her through depression.

Depression is extremely difficult on both the sufferer and their loved ones. A partner who can provide the right support can make all the difference to a person with depression. However, if you don’t know how to help, you’re not alone. Most partners need some guidance on what they can do to help.

How to Help a Partner With Depression

There are a few things you can do to help when you’re living with a partner with depression. Educating yourself about mental illness and knowing what to say and do can go a long way.

If you haven’t suffered from depression, you may not know much about it or understand what your partner is experiencing. Getting more information on depression will help you identify the symptoms and understand the condition so you can be more confident when you’re providing support.

What is Depression?

Depression is feeling sad, low or moody for long periods of time - sometimes without any reason. It can cause a person to lose interest in things they used to enjoy doing. They may be irritable, have low energy and find it hard to concentrate. Depression can impact a person’s physical wellbeing as well as their mental health. It affects everyone differently. Symptoms of depression are wide-ranging including:

  • Anger

  • Irritability

  • Confusion

  • Poor sleep and fatigue

  • Difficulty with concentration and focus

  • Physical symptoms including upset stomach, headaches and muscle aches

More Information About Depression

You can speak to your GP if you have questions you need answers to. Additionally, there are plenty of reputable online sources to get more information, including:

There are also a number of mobile applications that can help to improve wellbeing, health and lifestyle which might be worth trying in this situation. If you are looking for ideas on how to help a partner with depression, you can help decide on and download the same application. This will not only allow you to spend some more time together, but also help you both be proactive in trying to combat depression.

Knowing What to Say and Do

It’s normal to feel as though your depressed partner is pushing you away. Often people who are depressed don’t want to burden their partner with their problems or hurt them emotionally. Remember that your partner is going through a difficult time and it’s not your fault. Try to stay connected - just being there to sit and listen can help. Provide encouragement by using supportive phrases, such as:

  • ‘I’m here for you’

  • ‘We’ll get through this together’

  • ‘Tell me what I can do to help’

Your partner may know that they need professional help but struggle to reach out. Suggest you go with them to see their GP or make the appointments on their behalf. Dealing with life admin can be too much for your partner to cope with at this time. Ask if they would like you to drive them to appointments and go in with them to support them during the early appointments.

If you live with your partner, try to make the home environment supportive. 

  • Having healthy food choices at home can help as depression can impact appetite and lead to eating disorders.

  • Suggest you both go outside for some exercise each day.

  • Work together on chores so they don’t feel so overwhelming for your partner.

  • Have a routine so everyday living is less stressful.

Tips for Providing Support To a Partner with Depression

Offer to work on goals together by breaking down difficult tasks into small, achievable ones. If your partner isn’t already seeing a professional, recommend that they make an appointment to see their GP to begin. The GP may refer your partner to a mental health specialist such as psychologist or psychiatrist. As mentioned, you can suggest that you also attend the appointments in order to provide support.

It’s important to spend time together, so you can suggest small activities like playing cards or enjoying a meal, as well as more time-consuming activities such as planning a holiday.

Try to be patient and understanding. It can be frustrating watching a partner suffer from depression. There will be times where you think they aren’t doing enough to help themselves, but offer encouragement. There is rarely a quick-fix for depression - treatment takes time to take effect.

Look after your own mental health. It can be stressful and often overwhelming to help a partner who is depressed. Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and make an appointment to speak to a psychologist for support and advice that can help you and your partner.

Alternatively, you can see your GP, contact PeopleSense by Altius Group on 1800 258 487 or get in contact online.

Category: Mental Health