Dating Someone with Depression: Is That a Good Idea?
Dating someone with depression isn’t a good idea. People with mental illnesses are crazy and unpredictable. You’ll never be happy if you date someone with depression.
These are all misconceptions about dating and mental illness that need debunking. Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people aged 15 to 44, affecting 6.7% of the adult population in any given year. However, because of its commonality, depression is also highly treatable, so there’s no reason to assume depression will hurt your relationship. Here’s everything you need to know about dating someone with depression.
What’s It Like Dating Someone with Depression?
Dating a depressed person can be challenging for all sorts of reasons. You may question how your loved one can be truly happy in the relationship if he or she is depressed, or you may wonder why you can’t help. However, the first thing you must know about dating someone with depression is that it’s not your job to fix them. If you’re not familiar with depression or the impact it has, this can be hard to understand. However, if you choose to date someone with depression, educating yourself about their condition is key to making the relationship work.
Things You Should Know About Dating Someone with Depression
Being in a relationship with someone who’s depressed can be frustrating. Here are three key things you should know about dating someone with depression:
1. Every case of depression is different
Depression is different for everyone, so your partner’s journey won’t be the same as anyone else’s. Just because you’ve dated someone with depression before (or someone you know has) and it was a disaster, that doesn’t mean every relationship with a depressed person will be difficult.
Firstly, there are many different types of depression, such as:
- Major depressive disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Bipolar depression
- Psychotic depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder
- Situational depression
- Atypical depression
- Peripartum depression (depression during or after pregnancy)
Secondly, every person you meet with depression will be at a different point in their recovery. Some may have just been diagnosed; others will have been living with the condition for years. As such, every experience of dating someone with depression will be different. To understand more about your partner’s diagnosis, you will need to ask which type of depression they experience and how it affects them.
2. It’s not about you
Depression is rarely “about” any one person or situation. Rather, it is a medical disorder that occurs due to a complex mix of chemical, genetic and environmental factors. People with situational depression often become depressed as a result of trauma, grief or loss, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to treat. While your love and support are vital, there is nothing you can say that will cure your partner’s depression: you can only help your loved one with depression.
Your partner's illness may cause them to withdraw from you at times or become irritable. This doesn't mean you've done anything wrong – it may just be symptomatic of your partner's condition. Again, communication is essential here. Tell your partner how you feel without making them feel bad. If you need to blame someone, blame depression. Couples who present a united front rather than turning their frustrations on one another are more likely to succeed long-term.
3. It’s not always depression
It’s easy to blame depression for any conflicts that arise in your relationship or to chalk every “bad day” down to the illness. However, people with depression get sad, grumpy and frustrated just like everyone else – sometimes they just don’t feel great, and that’s not always about depression.
Try to resist minimizing your partner's emotions, even in your mind, by saying "Oh that's just the depression talking." Depression may be just an illness, but it's also part of who your loved one is – at least for now. You can provide comfort and compassion without always having to put a label on their feelings.
The Final Word on Dating Someone with Depression
Whether you're dating a man with depression, a woman with bipolar depression or a person with no mental health history whatsoever, relationships can be tough. Communication, compassion and non-judgment are vital to making a partnership work, with or without depression.
If you're ever concerned about your partner's mental state, or you fear they might be suicidal, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or call the emergency services.
Smith, E. (2019, March 7). Dating Someone with Depression: Is That a Good Idea?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/depression/relationships/dating-someone-with-depression-is-that-a-good-idea