Depression affects 1 in 4 people in Britain and the group in which it is growing at the fastest rate is middle aged men. But when does the sadness associated with the low periods in life become depression and how as a partner can you support them and get help whilst maintaining your relationship?
We’ve all felt hopeless and sad at some time but if your partner has many of the following symptoms and has had them for a long period of time, they could have depression:
Feelings of hopelessness
Loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies etc
Withdrawing from family and friends
Sleep and appetite changes
Anger, irritability and self loathing
In men specifically, there is a tendency to show other symptoms such as:
Blaming others – stress at work, finances, relationships
A need to control
Using alcohol, TV, sport or sex to ‘self medicate’
It is very difficult to watch a partner change and struggle with depression, especially if they won’t admit to it. However when a man reaches middle age in our current society they can find themselves under more pressure in their lives than when they were younger, due to stress at work, the weight of financial responsibility, relationship issues and a feeling that there are no more opportunities to achieve goals that were important to them. All of these can lead to depression and it’s important that these symptoms are recognised and not just seen as a need to ‘pull themselves together’.
As a partner it can be very isolating and frustrating if your loved one is depressed or shows signs of depression. The most important thing is to encourage them to seek help, this can be difficult if they are severely depressed and so unable to leave the house or are in denial that there is anything wrong. You could offer to go with them to see their doctor, or if they refuse, contact the doctor yourself for some advice. Life coaching has also been shown to very helpful in recovery from depression, but contact your doctor initially.
Being there to listen to your partner and helping them to open up is also important, however frustrating it may be, and not judging them or being defensive, even if they make illogical arguments. Researching depression and understanding more about the illness will help you with this.
Finally be sure to take care of yourself, emotionally and physically, allow yourself to feel angry and upset but avoid showing this to your partner. Ask your doctor about counselling for yourself or contact a life coach to help you through the difficult times. Ensure you use family and friends as a support, don’t isolate yourself out of embarrassment, people will understand and want to help.
With our increased understanding and openness about depression, hopefully more people will feel able to admit to their feelings and more relationships will be saved by working on the illness together.
For more information on how life coaching can help with depression please contact me