10 Ways to Show Love to Someone With Depression

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Note: I have struggled with clinical depression since I was a child. It has been a constant companion I have learned to manage and while I am better now than I have ever been, every so often I feel it returning. I describe it to my husband as a “demon eating my brain.” I have compiled this list from personal experiences that have been helpful to me. It is not intended to replace medical attention which can help many people who suffer from this illness.

Do You Love Someone With Depression?

If you have a partner or are close to someone who struggles with depression, you may not always know how to show them you love them. One day they may seem fine, and the next they are sad, distant and may push you away. It is important that you know that as a person who is close to them and trusted by them, you can help your friend or partner have shorter, less severe bouts of depression. Mental illness is as real as physical illness (it is physical actually, read more about that here) and your partner needs you as much as they would need to be cared for if they had the flu.

Your relationship may seem one-sided during these times, but by helping your partner through a very difficult and painful affliction, you are strengthening your relationship and their mental health in the long term.

1. Help them keep clutter at bay.

When a person begins spiraling into depression, they may feel like they are slowing down while the world around them speeds up. The mail may end up in stacks, dishes can pile up in the sink, laundry may go undone as the depressed person begins to feel more and more overwhelmed by their daily routine and unable to keep up. By giving your partner some extra help sorting mail, washing dishes or using paper plates and keeping chaos in check in general, you’ll be giving them (and yourself) the gift of a calm  environment. (I’m a fan of the minimalist movement because of this, you can read more about that here.)

2. Fix them a healthy meal.

Your partner may do one of two things when they are in a depressed state. They may eat very little, or they may overeat. In either case, they may find that driving through a fast food restaurant or ordering a pizza online is just easier than fixing a meal. Eating like this, or neglecting to eat will only degrade your partner’s health, causing her to go deeper into her depression. Help your loved one keep her body healthy, and her mind will follow. This is a great article that talks about the “Brain Diet” which can help the symptoms of depression, and this article talks about how our modern diet could contribute to the recent rise in depression. Here is a recipe for a trail mix that is quick to make and has mood-boosting properties.

3.Get them outside.

 The benefits of getting outside for a depressed person are huge. And it is possibly the last thing on earth your partner will want to do. Take them to be somewhere in nature. Pack a picnic and lie in the sun, take a leisurely hike (exercise is an effective mood booster!) or plant a garden. Being barefoot in the dirt, or “earthing” helps ground the body and reverse the effects of living in a world of emf’s, and digging in soil can actually act as an antidepressant, as a strain of bacterium in soil, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of seratonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Sunshine increases Vitamin D production which can help alleviate depression. My friend Elizabeth wrote an excellent post about Vitamin D and its link to depression here.  For more information about other sources of Vitamin D, this is a great post.

4. Ask them to help you understand what they’re feeling.

If your partner is able to articulate what they are going through, it will help them and you better understand what you are dealing with, and may give insight into a plan of action for helping your partner. Also, feeling alone is common for a depressed person and anything that combats that feeling will help alleviate the severity and length of the depression.

5. Encourage them to focus on self-care.

Depressed people often stop taking care of themselves. Showering, getting haircuts, going to the doctor or dentist, it’s all just too hard, and they don’t deserve to be well taken care of anyway in their minds. This can snowball quickly into greater feelings of worthlessness since “Now I’m such a mess, no one could ever love me”. Help your loved one by being proactive. Tell them “I’m going to do the dishes, why don’t you go enjoy a bubble bath?” can give them the permission they won’t give themselves to do something normal, healthy and self-loving.

6. Hug them.

Studies show that a sincere hug that lasts longer than 20 seconds can release feel-good chemicals in the brain and elevate the mood of the giver and receiver. Depressed people often don’t want to be touched, but a sincere hug with no expectation of anything further can give your partner a lift.

7. Laugh with them.

Telling a silly joke, watching a comedy or seeing a stand up comedian will encourage your partner to laugh in spite of herself. Laughing releases endorphins and studies show can actually counteract symptoms of depression and anxiety.

8. Reassure them that you can handle their feelings.

Your partner may be feeling worthless, angry and even guilty while they are depressed. They may be afraid that they will end up alone because no one will put up with their episodes forever. Reassure them that you are in the relationship for the long haul and they won’t scare you away because they have an illness.

9. Challenge their destructive thoughts.

A depressed person’s mind can be a never-ending loop of painful, destructive thoughts. “I’m unlovable, I’m a failure, I’m ugly, I’m stupid”. Challenge these untruths with the truth. “You’re not unlovable, I love you. You aren’t a failure, here are all the things you’ve accomplished.”

10.Remind them why you love them.

Look at pictures of happy times you’ve had together. Tell them your favorite things about them. Reminisce about your relationship and all the positive things that have happened, and remind your partner that you love them and they will get through this.

I wrote a follow up post with 10 more ways to help someone with depression HERE

My friend Julie who blogs at Real Fit Mama has a great post about more things you can do to help with depression. Go have a look here! She also wrote a post about finding true happiness here.

This list is in no way exhaustive. I’d love for this to start a conversation, please leave the ways you have found to love someone with depression in the comments.

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10 Ways to Love Someone With Depression

For more insight into blossoming during the difficult seasons we experience in life, you may be interested in my friend Ariana’s book “Pruned

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About Kelley

Hi! I'm Kelley. Real foodie and crunchy mom to a teenager and a toddler. My husband and I live in Southern California.


  1. This was all spot-on. Unfortunately, I found it too late. My husband left me for someone who wasn’t so crazy and so sick.

    Maybe in the next lifetime.

    • Much love to you. I hope there is someone out there more worthy of you <3

      • Ditto, as I was reading this I thought, if only my ex husband had seen this maybe I wouldn’t be alone now.

        • Yep, I know those feels.

        • my gf is fighting some of these issues and i am glad that i found this…..as for being alone,i would gladly lend an ear,would help me understand and communicate with my girl…..or,my gf would benefit from talking online to someone…

          • You are wonderful for reaching out and trying to help, I hope the 2 of you find a coping plan that works!

          • distressed says:

            Im battleing this disease alone )= ive already suffered a massive heart attack @ 43 & my husband and i are so far apart emotionally, we dont talk anymore )=
            Feeling very alone…

          • I’m very sorry to hear that. Could you initiate a conversation?

          • It’s really hard my friend it really is ! But all you can do is reassure her that it’s all going to be ok and that she’s a beautiful person inside and out and that you love her with all you have ! She will appreciate the smallest if things , a kiss in the cheek , a smile , a little bunch if flowers time to time ! Just the little things that remind her you love her and need her .

        • It’s not any of your ladies’ fault that your former partners lacked the fortitude and decency to stick it through. Being depressed is Not something anyone can choose not to have. If they had read this, who knows if it would have gotten through to them? It’s all actually quite obvious to someone who is rational enough to want to be a good, kind partner to someone who is very sad. Their loss.

          • Wow, You hit the nail on the head! Thank you for saying this. I have to say, I suffer from depression and I know that my BF doesn’t understand it at all. In general, he’s not that great in the affection/emotion area, but I often feel stuck between two mindsets: 1 It should be obvious to someone who wants to be kind to a person who is obviously sad/negative about herself. Or 2, he lacks the knowledge and skill to do the things that need to be done in this case for me. Like maybe just because it’s not natural to him, it doesn’t mean he’s a deadbeat. Which is why these articles are written I guess. Where/when do you draw the line??

          • Bonnie Sipp says:

            You draw the line when you have to “prove to them that you are good enough for them” – people should love us and we should love them, sickness and health and all that.
            If we have to prove that we’re good enough and “hide” parts of ourselves; they don’t understand and probably never will….
            This is much easier said than done; took me 25 years; but I’m working on it.
            I know in my head that I matter, it’s convincing my heart that’s hard…

          • I agree with Azalea it takes a lot of fortitude to stick with a chronically depressed person. It is very tiring and not encouraging but if people can its worth it you could call it a hard test of love. Look some just cant hack it and leave the person. We shouldnt judge them .
            I think you have to get the depressed person to explain how they really feel. It can make all the difference. Its an illness like anything else. The carer should take breaks maybe just small ones and try to connect with others get out and about walk around the area where you live and just take a break. You may not get good results from your efforts for a long time. If the afflicted one is a military person you may have to face it they are damaged souls they need someone to care that wont give up on them.I know all about this particular problem! but if we cant help others I dont know why we are on planet earth.

        • Stay strong! Its a shitty hand to be dealt in life- Power to you!! Love love love love love love <3 <3 <3

        • He may have also done you a favor. Same thing happened to me 6 years ago. I didn’t see it as a good thing then, it is now.

        • I have been with my partner nearly 12 months and love her to the end of the world but this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. I kiss her good bye every morning as she sleeps not knowing what I might come home too and tell her everyday how much I love her but it’s hard too live with ! She can be so cruel and hurtful some times and I just don’t know where it comes from and why she feels like this ! It’s hard too live with but I can’t and won’t give up ! I want this monster to leave her alone …

          • I have been married to my husband for almost 21 years. His depression has gotten so bad over the last several years. He feels like he can’t get out of it. He is seeking help from the VA for his PTSD, but it doesn’t seem to be working fast enough. He had some underlying depression issues before he went to Afghanistan. He is very detached from everyone in his life. I feel like I am a single parent to our four children. I feel for you, James. There is always hope. Jer 29:11

          • James, you are clearly a very caring person. There are self help groups for partners of people suffering from depression, try to seek those out. You must try to educate yourself in this disease and how it manifests, if you are to work through and save your relationship. Counting to 10 before answering, will help to get over any angry reactive responses (which really won’t help) and really trying some of the tips in this blog will be good as well. I helped to support an ex-partner through periods of depression (which was hard for my current partner, but he was a gem in the end) and it was an extraordinarily hard experience. It is hard to understand if you’ve not been through it yourself, so take some time for you as well as wanting to be there for her.

            Best wishes to you both.

          • Thank you so much , it’s been so hard and not till I researched this awful disease did I realise what this poor girl was going through ! I now realise and feel so guilty for the way I have responded at times and it’s great to know that there is help out there for the people who live with it not just suffer from it … I love her with all my heart and want too help all I can she’s a wonderfull person inside and far stronger than she thinks ! I would give my last breath too be able too click my fingers and take this terrable demon away .

          • Please try to remember that when your gf is having a hard time and being hurtful to you that it is not your fault and she isn’t really mad at you….it’s those demons inside making her do those things. I know it’s as hard for you to understand as it is for my husband and all you can do is be there for her and keep telling her you will help her in any way you can. Stay strong, I know it’s hard.

          • Depression is not an excuse to treat someone badly. Just because she is depressed, does not mean she should be cruel to you etc. That’s not a symptom.

          • Tammy Gillespie says:

            James, you sound like a wonderful man. Just remember when your gf is hurtful, it is not personal at all and in fact isn’t even about you. It is the pain she is feeling inside herself. I have a friend whose husband is clinically depressed and I have had my own experience. She said the hardest thing for her to learn when her husband was depressed was not to take anything personally, but once she realized that it made life easier.
            Ks, of course it’s not an excuse but we’re not talking about intentional behavior which someone then blames on depression. It’s a real illness just like any physical illness.

          • I wanted to do whatever I could to help my ex partner who has anxiety disorder. I think she wasn’t ready to take the bold new steps that she needs to take in order for her to get out of her nightmare. She ended it, possibly because she isn’t ready to get out of what is familiar. The person afflicted has to want to do something about it otherwise they view people who want to assist them as annoying.

          • I agree, I have been married for almost 18 years though the last year and a half we have not lived together. My wife refuses to look back at her troubled past and deal with the issues of depression and anxiety that have troubled her. I have done all I can, but will continue to try to learn new ways. But no matter how much I support her it wont add up to too much until she decides that this is not the best life has to offer. I continue to fight for her, but it feels like I am the only one. If I push, she pushes back, I can not talk her into getting help so I wait for her to decide to. I really hope that she decides to get help, if she doesn’t our marriage will end, our children will be forced into divided lives and she will follow in the pathway that her mother travels, one of depression, despair and a barely adult life. I want whats best for my wife, but the more I try the more I am being pushy and controlling. I pray that she find what she is looking for, I pray that for all who are suffering, mentally or otherwise.

          • This is very true ! My partner almost seems to be happy in the misserable life she lives in ! And we can have a lovely day together but is as though before that day ends she has yo cause an argument or some kind of unhappiness to spoil that day on purpose as though it’s not right to be happy !! It’s so hard and I can’t find reason for it and it frustrates the hell out of me and I feel it’s drawing too an end ! The reall shame is she’s 8 months pregnant with my son and I’m lost and hurt and becoming weaker and weaker as time goes on , I’m coming too the point I feel I should get out for my own sanity !! HELP !!

          • Hi James, thank you for loving your partner through this. As an ex depressive sufferer, I can say you are doing the right thing as tough as it is for you. It is a monster and it takes over the suffers life. It consumes everything and is horrid as you don’t know where it came from or when it will leave. I pray for strength for you. Keep strong and remain consistent. She will be better soon and believe me, she is trying despite how it may seem on the outside.

    • I’m betting your husband wasn’t a perfect being either. Find yourself a compassionate therapist, and learn all the things about you that there are to love. There are many, whether you realize it or not.

    • After eight and have years together the same thing happened to me. I don’t blame him doo. If the shoe was on the other foot I would probably do the same .

      • I’m so sorry.

      • What about the vows “till death do us part” its not ‘until my spouse gets depression’. Some people sh ould never be married.

        • agreed. For better or for worse, in sickness AND in health. I am lucky. Hubby has my back because he truly loves me. The hubbies who left you ladies would have probably found another reason to leave. It is NOT your fault. You are all loveable.

        • Let me share a piece of wisdom- my husband of eight years DID know all these things but he still chose not to help me. Please understand ladies that if your partner had truly loved you he would have sought after tips like these. So screw em and know that you are worth more.

    • Born2Bfree says:

      I understand your pain.. went through the same exact thing. I wonder now if he didn’t cause part of it with his lack of even trying to understand. Depression is a cruel master…

      • Relationships are a two way street. This is why I try to emphasize that depression is not a problem of having some sort of weak or selfish character, it is an illness. If someone leaves you because you have an illness, what does that say about them?

        • That they didn’t know enough about the illness, maybe?

        • I like to think Relationships are one way streets we travel together.

        • That they’re Newt Gingrich?

        • Amen, I do have multiple medical issues, depression is one of them. My ex chose to belittle me, criticize me, downright abuse me by calling me lazy and other epithets. I was the one who left him.
          Nobody chooses to be ill. Depressed people need plenty of support, a peaceful, and loving environment. No additional stress, we need to surround ourselves with uplifting and positive spouses, frfriends and everybody and everything in our lives. No time to waste on people who do not have compassion for the sick. My prayers for all the ladies and gents who have shared in this forum. Depression is highly treatable, carry on and seek a healthier life. You all deserve it

      • tara burris says:

        I have also fought this since the age of 15. I actually have bipolar along with the depression and horrible anxiety and attacks. I believe my ex did make it worse as he was always running the bars. You really do need someone who understands he said it was in my head. I am on meds but still have a lot of issues,nice to know others understand. Fortunately I have a great best friend who is there to help me,along with my family.

    • Please read number 9 again… “Challenge these untruths with the truth.” The author calls them untruths for a reason. You are not who you see yourself as. You are crazy wonderful!

    • May ALL BEINGS be HAPPY and FREE.

      Remember Dear Ones breathe and Remember who You Really Are. You are Energy Vibration Light Love You are Love and You are Loved You are Worth it and Deserving of the HIGHEST Goodness and JOY! You are JOY! And although the mind has taken over and boxed and limited and depressed and closed and deadened your heart and you feel you cannot, you CAN experience joyous bliss and ecstasy. This will be by knowing and understanding the Light within You. By focusing the breath you can tap into your heart light and access the infinite well of happiness that lives ALWAYS untouched by any pain sorrow or any circumstance. This is the Light within you and it is within All Things. Practice feeling and experiencing this Loving Energy of the heart and practice RADIATING LOVE as you BREATHE DEEPLY AND FULLY.

      Even if you feel depressed you can make these motions and pretend to feel blissful Love, Thankfullness, and Happiness.

      Smile, spread your arms out wide, pretend a waterfall of Light is flowing down from Heaven into your heart filling up your entire body with Delciious Vibrating Joyful Energy. Focus on the Breath. Focus on the Light. THAT is who you are. Practice talking to yourself lovingly, as if you were a little child. Love yourself like you would love a little kitten, innocent, sweet, pure. THAT is what you are. Depression is NOT YOU.

      Its okay to feel this way, you are getting better everyday. Tell yourself that is it okay, ALL IS WELL Everything is all right.

      Call on your angels to help you. Send sincere prayers of thanks to your angels and guides, such as “thank you angels and guides for watching over me, keeping me safe, protected, and surrounded on all sides, above me and below me with healing, loving angelic beings. Thank you for assisting me and helping me access and experience my radiant bliss, eternal peace, and ecstatic JOY of life! Thank you for helping me to forgive myself and all others and love myself and all others as One. And I know it is done for I create with my thoughts words feelings and actions, and all prayers are answered. SO be it. Thank You.

      Everything is Okay.

      Eat living, organic fresh foods and get plently of sun, or vitamin if you live in a place without much sun. Ideally move to a place where you can be barefoot on the earth and be in nature and sunlight. You will naturally start to get better the more time you spend with nature, developing a connection to the earth. Being Grounded on the planet as well as Using Light by visualizing, breathing, and practicing feeling love radiating from your heart will help immensely. See a tube of light coming down from Heaven All the Way down through your spinal column into the center of the earth, where there is crystalline light as well. Focusing on bring the light down all the way like this keeps your energy field clear making it easier to feel happiness and joy because you are starting to control your own energy as opposed to being controlled by outside forces.

      You are CREATING YOUR REALITY with your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions.

      So if you can start pretending you are happy, remembering times when you were happy, observing and practice feeling the vibrations of other happy people, pretending to laugh, eventually you can TRAIN YOUR VIBRATION and actually feel happiness, Love, and Joy! And although unhappiness is part of life, you never need to succumb to it completely or let it control your life. Practice, Meditate, Breath, and Remember Who You Are, a Spark of Light of God, Pure Love, an innocent child.

      Forgive Yourself and All Others. Love yourself and All Others. Forgive Yourself. Love Yourself. You are Amazing.

      Thank You. I honor the Light within All of You.

      Uma Lakshmi

      read conversations with God

      • It is by doing these very things that I felt a lifetime of depression melt away and I literally and physically transformed into a new person. Love and Light are really inside us all. Depression is a falsehood.

        • Kindness really goes so much further than most people would believe.

        • I am so sorry to all of you who have lost someone during depression, My husband is still with me but I fear him leaving often. The article was wonderful and I think it made some valid points, But I still feel very responsible. You can only keep a fake smile on your face for so long and the same goes for the people dealing with someone with depression. Empathy is the best thing for both parties to have. And those with depression should explain without crying or being upset but calmly tell them the things you see them doing for you or what they are going through. Sometimes depression is contagious and that is what has happened with me and my husband. He is falling apart. My body feels weak and my mind feels crazed and I am trying my best but my best isn’t good enough. I have been on many meds and they have all left me feeling the same way. I am now on something called Q96 and it is amazing. I am starting to feel again and see lights at the end of the tunnel, where it was once just darkness all around me. But after being so bad and staying in bed and not exercising my body I have to stop old habits of basically doing nothing. That has been difficult. I am definitely not all the way better but a change of perspective of what you can do and can handle is what I need but truly I know that I have to work to gain his trust and belief in me again by taking steps that I know I must do to make things better. Easier said than done and anyone with depression knows this but. I have a family of young boys who need me too. This is the only life I have and that they have. I need my kids to feel loved and happy and secure and when I leave this life I want them to know I am a fighter and that I will do anything to keep our family feeling safe and love. I don’t want them to learn that my behavior is ok. Even though this is an illness and believe I know it is real. They are 3,4, and 9 and it is important what behavior the see. I just pray that I can be the person they need to teach them that opposition in their life isn’t the end of the world. The Q96 I am taking is nutrients for the brain and naturally levels out hormones I believe in this product. But that being said If the medication you are on is working then you stay on what works for you. But if not consider looking up Q96. Hope and Love for all of you who are going through this. It truly is a terrible thing to go through and I wish you all the best in your life

          • Thats the EMPower plus Q96?? Im on it as well. Can definitely feel the difference……im friends with the family that started it πŸ™‚

          • Thank you so much for your comments about both sides of the situation. It is very hard for both the sufferer and the supporter. I love the point of this blog, it gives very specific pointers to practical help that supporters can give. But they also need support themselves, it’s a hard place to be, sometimes as hard as the sufferer themselves. See the post about the lady who’s husband is descending in to depression trying to cope with hers, above.

            Much love to all.

          • There are three things that work for me:
            1 Get enough physical exercise.
            2 Do something to make someone else happy. It helps you to forget your own miseries.
            3 Omega 3,6,9 capsules have been very helpful to me even when circumstances have been almost overwhelming.

      • Reading your words made me feel happy and hopeful! Where can I find more of your writings?

      • For the very first time after years of denial that the symptoms off pain and mobility was down to my body giving up because it was tired it really felt real.
        The word depression did not feel to me justified.
        I thought depression was an insult to how I felt .
        I have dealt with so much bad stuff I had to pull my socks up or grow up many other comments like that if you hear it long enough you start to believe it . I HEARD THESE COMMENTS FOR THIRTY YEARS.
        Some mistakes i have to live with and I have paid the price.
        They have called it myalgic encephalopathy and paraplegia migraine after a brain scan chronic deteriorate of self worth in other words I wanted out so bad my body has took control and is self destructive

      • This is exactly what I said, but more bluntly in a less softer version. I have found that taking the path of Buddhism in my darkest days has enabled me to see the light within myself. I still have days where it takes over, but those days I mediate longer!
        This is a great post! No matter who you pray to it’s a very uplifting way to overcome your inner hardships all created by you!

        • I would love to hear more how you began the path of Buddhism to conquer your depression. If you have websites, books, or other resources, too, I would be most grateful.

      • I see that as a male who suffers depression, I seem to be in the minority…but only because men are taught to hide their feelings, etc.
        Uma Lakshmi’s comments really reached out to me, once I clicked onto this original post, (which I feel is spot-on, btw)….
        I just wanted to say that I really appreciated this article, as well as the comments.
        It’s good to know we are not alone.
        Zen conquers all.

        • I don’t think you’re in the minority.

          • Nor do I…but as a male that is not in denial, and not afraid to face it head-on and attempt to do something positive, creative, and constructive about it, I may be. Women are more inclined to nurture and counsel each other, which is why I sometimes feel like a voyeur when I read commentary like this one. I find it to be affirmative and inspirational in that sense…and thanx to all of you for that. πŸ˜‰

        • Jose Garcia says:

          I strongly suggest looking into advaita vedanta, not as a means to be rid of depression, but as a tool for self discovery. When the self is discovered for what it truly is, depression holds no power.

    • His loss

    • Me too! He felt like he couldn’t help me and was tired of trying, and all of my negative thoughts brought him down! I am sorry for the unhappy thoughts I’ve had and how I always questioned him about things, there was a lack of trust on my part, and for good reason too! My assumptions were spot on 90% of the time, and he betrayed me and wasn’t honest in the things he did, of course I would have negative thoughts about him! In the end this is a constant struggle I will have for the rest of my life! I am worth it, I am special, and I have a good heart, those just weren’t enough for him, I was too draining and I understand! Now we are going through a divorce after 24 years of marriage going on 25!

    • Never say you are crazy. When I had my nervous breakdown and checked myself into the hospital, the Dr. that admitted me told me, “Don’t let ANYONE tell you that you are crazy. You aren’t. I have been in that same chair you are sitting in.” That was quite a revelation for me.

    • I feel the same my husband left me also and I still wait for my next time and hope I can keep my “crazy” in check. I think and hope that next time I can find someone who can truly love me and help me work through all the anxiety and fear of life instead of making it worse
      Good luck to u. I hope u find someone who loves all of u and not who they want u to be.

    • Hi,my name is lynne….my partner suffer bad depression n insomnia…i have been with him for nearly 9 yrs. I love him dearly sometime is make me cry what he is going thru n i dont know how he cope with it but i am still there n with him….he is seriously ill but i am there for him n will always be there for him….my family n friends say ” is best i leave him cos he has mental problem” i told them all to go to hell…i dont care.what he has got he is the love of my life n i will always support him no matter what.
      I am sorry to hear what ur going thur…ur ex is very selfish for leaving you. Is not ur fault love. Some days someone with a heart will come to u. πŸ™‚

    • your husband wasnt the strong one, i have someone in my life that suffers from this and its not hard to deal with it to work around it, i have learned that i just need to be a little less lazy when she has an episode.

    • You ARE lovable, regardless of how sick you are. Love yourself! You didn’t ask for this, just as a blind person doesn’t ask to be unsighted. No pity required, just some understanding and love.

    • I’m on the other side of the coin. I’m currently in a relationship with someone who seems to be going through an extended bout of depression. I’m trying to help (mostly by being there and available and offering to take care of things), but she wont communicate with me. When I ask if she wants something she doesn’t answer unless it’s to say that she doesn’t care. Most of the time she just doesn’t respond to anything I say. When I’m depressed I like to have some space to work things out, so I’ve tried to offer that, with regular check-ins to be sure it doesn’t seem like I don’t care, but that doesn’t seem to work either. It’s hard not to feel like I’m part of the problem and I find myself wondering how much longer I can stay in this situation.

      • Morgan Brooke says:

        I’ve been crippled by depression for over 50 years. It is a constant struggle. So I’ve learned from others how hard it is to feel helpless and useless when someone you care about is suffering. You need to realize that you can’t fix anything– Don’t do things then see if they “work’ . Think about what you mean — if something “worked” what would it look like? All you need is a good heart and patience. And you seem to have those. Learn about what depression is as an illness not just feeling down from some disappointments — they are not the same. Keep reminding yourself that she is not your project to fix — so you are doing the right thing just by being there trying. You can help more by finding interesting things to do and learn. Learn more about yourself–what do you like to do — what subjects, hobbies, or activities are you attracted to. It will be easier to be there for her if you stop thinking you are part of the problem. Let go of guilt, outcomes. Learn to detach. No matter what the outcome you will both have grown.

      • Tequila Mockingbird says:

        I have a girl friend that had been fighting depression for a long time. Sometimes when she goes through an episode she will do similar things like going into her bathroom and sitting on the floor. I always go in there with her and hold her or wrap myself around her. Sometimes I ask her how she feels or what is making her upset and she will respond with a neutral answer like “I don’t know” or “its nothing”. I then say something like “it isn’t nothing our else you wouldn’t be lying on the floor, tell me what’s wrong so that I can help you”. I always try to understand what is going on from her perspective so that I can better empathize with her and rationalize a solution.

        I have found this article to be spot on. Almost all of these are relevant to what my girlfriend is going through. What helped me the most was when I find the source of her depression. She experienced a series of traumatic events when she was younger and had been depressed and somewhat self-destructive ever since. Since she told me what happened and how she felt about it and about herself I have been able to respond better when she does have a bout of depression and sometimes curtail it before it even comes. My advice would be to try to talk to your loved one and understand why they feel this way, really have a deep conversation. Go through their self-image and refute the negative things with evidence.

        Depression is physical, in that it is an abnormality in the brain, whether it is due to a chemical imbalance in the cerebrospinal fluid or damage or deformity in a specific locus of the brain. One of the biggest things is to understand that taking medication will not cure this. It will merely alleviate the symptoms. As taking a pain killer will not heal your broken limb. That is why therapeutic counseling is the first thing that you should seek out. This will help you manage the depression and understand how it works. Then see if medication would be a good option for you to help you further. Therapy is a more permanent solution, but medication is still helpful if taken correctly. My girlfriend is going through therapy currently and she has said that now her depression feels like more of a passenger instead of a master.

        • Sometimes “I don’t know,” is all we have to say. I can’t speak for others, but sometimes, for no identifiable reason, everything is so overwhelming and I just want the world to STOP; I’ll go off by myself, or start crying hysterically, and when someone asks “what’s wrong,” all I can say is “I don’t know.” Replying with “Its nothing,” is similar; it could be a few passing seconds or minutes of mental pain that, to me, really are nothing because I deal with them so often. “Its nothing,” could also mean “I don’t want to worry you right now.”

          • Sometimes the hurt is just so encompassing I cant even say the words, like the words themselves do not even matter. I cant make myself even give life to the words, because giving them life does not fix anything and in my case there has never been anyone to hear them, never anyone to hold or comfort. Lots of times I do not even bother crying, like I cant even do that, because it is just like words and I can’t give, I just lie there because there is no one to hear, crying seems so pointless. Sometimes you have to fight so hard to just be okay enough, not good, not okay but okay enough.

          • I have been there. Many times, actually. And you know what helps me greatly in the end? Stop, take a deep breath, and fully analyze the situation. There is always a reason, sometimes you just don’t see it right away. The reason could be as subtle as someone yelling at you weeks ago, and since then, every little thing everyone has done or said has seemed like they’re about to yell at you for something, and you’re scared by everything and slowly deteriorating. And when you make these realizations, they become easier to recognize, easier to deal with, easier to think logically about. And I honestly believe that is what a therapist is there to do, or what a partner or friend is trying to do by asking you to tell them what is wrong. Sometimes, being forced to talk about it might open up your thoughts to understanding it yourself.

        • The difficulty with depression, for me anyway, is that there isn’t really anything “wrong” to articulate. My therapist had me on meds first so I could climb far enough out of the hole to participate in and benefit from talk therapy.

          • So very true, Hedy! Even after 2 decades of therapy & some recent practice with deeply meaningful communication, I still find it hard to say what’s “wrong” when I’m depressed. It helps to say, “As usual, there isn’t anything specific. Here’s the stuff going through my brain at the moment…”

      • I may be not be popular for saying this but I can completely appreciate your comments Jelly. I think it’s been laid out a lot on this thread that partners are weak or unloving if they leave a depressed person because of continuous episodes. I think it’s good to remember that the partners are also human and have resilience levels. I have suffered from long episodes of depression myself so I feel I can say this, but it can be incredibly draining for the partner of family member also in some cases and if in turn this is continuously having an effect on their wellbeing over a long period, then is it wrong for that person to take a healthy move from themselves? I think it’s good to acknowledge the 2 sides of the coin here. I totally believe that when you form a partnership, you should be in it for the long haul, but I think that there are some exceptions. I’m not trying to take away from other peoples’ comments but I’ve known people to be on the other end of this who have suffered greatly too.

        Just my opinion

    • I too, my ex-husband left me when I was at my lowest. It has been 4 years and I am still grieving especially being a family.

    • This article resonated with me. I thought thhe pile of unsorted mail was because I was just too busy. In fact, I am completely overwhelmed by life. For those of you with partners who gave up – I send love and light and hope that you will find someone who deserves the love you have to give.

    • You are not alone…you are not abnormal. I know how you are feeling…

    • I’m so sorry, that really sucks! It may seem like it’s too late, but there are other people in the world! Hang in there!

    • Snap!

    • Adele Barnes says:

      I suffered from depression for a number of years. I thought I had overcome the disease, but have recently begun to wonder if it has started again. When I read your suggestions , I recognized myself in some of the comments. I think I’ll have to work on some of these things, and possibly talk to my doctor. Thanks for this article.

    • It is never too late. The article is spot on, however sometimes some people such as your husband just aren’t strong enough. There is someone out there who will love you for you. You may have an illness but that does not mean you don’t deserve to be loved. Focus on you, your life and what you can offer to the world. I don’t know you personally but I know that everyone can offer something to the world. There is a reason we are here, the world may be a big place, but you deserve to enjoy it just as much as anyone else. You are worth it! πŸ™‚

    • I am so sorry this happened to you. Let me assure you that whether your husband left you or not, you still matter. You are still a valuable person. And you can still heal, feel whole again and find a new and better chapter of your life. I encourage you to go for the help you deserve and need even if you can’t see that right now. Trust me, you can get better and those of us who see your comment are rooting you on and hoping for a happier day for you very soon.

    • This happened to me with my ex-bf. I think it speaks more about him than you. I have seen many women who are depressed with devoted husbands. Once you meet a truly caring person, you’ll understand it (just imho, but I was surprised myself).

    • This made me cry. If only I had found this sooner.

    • Mine left me for the same reason. except he made me think it was all my fault with the depression, lack of emotion, etc… turned out he was having an affair for months before he ended it and got her pregnant… 12 yrs, 2 kids later, here I am.

    • Then he’s the one who doesn’t deserve you. You are not your illness. Keep strong x

  2. @Scavengerspirit :You ARE WORTHY of love and there is someone out there who will see past the depression and love the YOU that is there. NAMASTE.

  3. Keo Thompson says:

    I found this to be really helpful . I was diagnosed with depression a year ago and this article helped me to understand what I need when I get into a depressed mood.

  4. It took her a year and a half and a LOT of courage to tell me she has depression.
    I did not know what to say, I kinda shrugged it off.
    That was the last time I saw her in person, she has stopped talking to me.

    I have tried to make contact and she has responded only on special days, Xmas, birthday…

    I don’t know what to do.
    I don’t want to give up on her, but she is not responding to any of my attempts to contact her.

    I have no choice but to wish her well and move on.

    • If you do truly care about her, keep trying. Persistence will get through.(Admittedly, this is what would work for me, maybe not for her since I don’t know and it is possible you are already doing this) Show up at her house once a week just to smile at her as she answers the door and tell her she’s beautiful. Text her every morning and night and times in between. Let her know you’re thinking of her. If you are the type for gifts, give her gifts. Maybe not over-the-top “I know you’re upset so I’m spending money to make you feel better” gifts but “I care about you and can find no other way to show it” gifts. However, don’t give too many more gifts than you would regularly. Maybe get a group of mutual friends to hang out with the two of you so there’s no pressure on her but it gets her out(if she gets nervous around people this could backfire and don’t let them treat her differently) Whether she responds to you or not, she is seeing that you care. If you haven’t apologized for not realizing what the depression means to her, definitely do so. Make the effort and show her that you feel she is worth the effort.
      However, if you are going to move on, be certain of it. Don’t decide that you aren’t going to try anymore and then when you see her finally cheering up decide to try again. If she’s anything like me, she will cling to what might make her happy and false promises or doubts from you abandoning her(not trying to be offensive, that’s just what it may seem like if you decide to pull away) once are only going to tear her apart with indecision. Tell her that you love her but she deserves someone stronger than you because of the wonderful person she is.
      Again, all statements are going off of me only knowing what you posted. It may not be accurate to your situation, adapt it so it is.

      • Um, this could be a recipe for a restraining order. It’s pretty much exactly what my stalker put me through. Showing up at my door, sending me gifts (to make sure I was thinking of him), calling me, texting me, e-mailing me despite requests to stop, showing up at social events I attended…it was horrible. It sure didn’t seem like he wanted to make my depression better.

        • Having been through this situation during my last round of major depression, there is a difference. The man who was new to my life and hadn’t shown interest in my condition who kept trying to contact me was who I viewed as a stalker. The girl friends that I had known for years who kept contacting me because they knew why I was isolating myself and wanted to help me I viewed as caring supporters. I struggled to accept my friends’ offers of “let’s do this” because in my depressive state, it was either overwhelming to me to think of what I had to do to get ready or I genuinely thought, in my depressive negative thinking, “why would they want to spend time with a pathetic creature like me? Two hours of me and they’ll probably never want to be around me again.” yet it was their patience and persistence that helped me keep going.
          In my experience, people strugglling with depression trust others who have been through depression more than those who haven’t, and of those who haven’t, we trust those who show a genuine interest to learn over those who blow it off. It is such a strange, illogical illness to think “I am utterly worthless” all the time, we don’t need logic at those times, we need love when we feel most unlovable.
          One thing I craved a lot at that time in my life was someone to just hold me as I laid in bed crying…I don’t know about your particular relationship, but for others reading these comments, I suggest this as a tangible way to show your partner you care.

        • Yes, that’s exactly what I thought when I read the comment: sounds like a stalker. You just have to be sensitive to what the other person is feeling: she may really be over you or may never had the interest i the first place. If this is not the case and she is interested with something (fear?) holding her back, then sure, you should pursue it, but not in such a pushy way. I wouldn’t just show up at someone’s doorstep unless I’m sue this is what the other person wants. AND there CAN be too many texts! Just be sensitive, that all I’m saying.

      • @Ryuu
        Thanks for the suggestions.

        I wish I could keep trying. I think there is a fine line between caring and stalking. I wish her well and pray that she gets well. I welcome the day when I bump into her and she is happy and living a wonderful life.

        I think about her often and wonder how she is doing. I am not sure I am built for a 1+ year of no contact and just don’t have the energy to keep trying.

        It is sad that she is suffering and I will do my best to study this ailment.

        Thanks again for the suggestions.

        • As I had said, it all depends on your situation, and this is just the way to get through with certain people. Obviously I put in everything I could think of which when read wrong seems bad but that’s what I get for posting something at three in the morning. My main point was to give ideas.
          Eventually she should find someone who can make her happy. If you’re backing off I’d say the best thing is either to support her as a friend or back off completely. Just don’t let her think that she did something wrong.

        • Every case is so personal that we cannot have a set plan of action/inaction! I feel strongly-that one should study the effects and challenges that a person with depression has to face and try to overcome. I am my wife’s carer as her case (like many others) is chronic. These recommendations above are spot on, the hardest part for the one trying to help their loved one is to have an understanding of this hideous ailment. I always had a negative attitude in regards to depression(get over it! They are week I would voice)I was ARROGANT! It hit me in my early forties and destroyed my self worth for eight years to the point of even being terrified of my own young children! My wife has been struggling with thid horrific illness for five or so years. Without having been struck down with depression myself my relationship would have been tuined. Our relationship ship is what keeps my sweetheart going! PLEASE for the sake of you love -get as much info ad u can then you have a great chance to be an important and loving support. Bless you all for careing. Ed

          • I’ve had a partner with depression for almost a year and one of their main strategies towards self preservation is being very selective about who they invest time/energy into and who they do not. I would not suggest persitence as that may just put more pressure on them. Clearly they are choosing not to invest energy in you, so if you want to change that, you need to be clear about how you have changed and how you will treat them differently. Offer real options for support that you can provide but also acknowledge that if they just want space, you do not mean to pressure them. In my experience, sincerety is better than gifts. Gifts often place-hold for lack of support that requires more intentional emotional/mentaI support so show that you are willing to invest time, thought, and energy. I think a good way to do this might be through a hand written letter as that allows them to open it at their own pace and is more personal. But while this letter will take work, DO NOT HOLD IT OVER THEIR HEAD. too often people think that this emotional and intentional labor necessitates reciprocation and that will just increase pressure on them. Be sincere and clear but not expecting them to invest energy where they don’t want to.

  5. Too late, I could have used this advice a few months ago.

  6. I was married for 32 years to a man who developed bipolar disease at about the midpoint of the marriage. I tried so hard to be supportive. It wasn’t enough. My heart breaks for what has become of him, but it was beyond my power to change the trajectory.

    • Bipolar disorder is very, very different from depression.

      • That said, I read this article and a lot applies. I deal with mixed bipolarity, and some of this stuff might work on me if the right people tried it.

        • I’m sure this list could apply to more than one situation. It’s not meant as a treatment for any illness, including depression, just a resource for those who have partners and don’t know what to do. πŸ™‚

      • MissNormaDesmond says:

        No, it’s not. Depression is a part of Bipolar Disorder — while not every depressed person has Bipolar Disorder, nearly every person with Bipolar Disorder experiences depression. Very frequently, people can go for years manifesting only the depressive part of the illness. Please don’t make blanket statements like this without real knowledge of the mental illnesses you’re talking about, it’s misleading and unhelpful.

  7. I wish I had had this advice before I gave up on my ex-husband.

    • Don’t beat yourself up. Most of us do the best that we can at any given time. Living with someone suffering from depression is very hard and if you didn’t have the tools or information to deal with it adequately, that’s not your fault. It’s still sad, but you’re not a bad person.

    • Depression is a horrid disease. It’s hard for those that suffer but equally so for those of us who care. No one cares now we feel, and somedays it is hard to keep being yelled at, ignored, beaten, screamed at, … All under that badge of depression. Yet we do it, we keep coming back, we keep trying to give support with no thanks, no understanding, no pills, no support. We do love, we do care …it’s just sometimes we need a hug, we need some support, we need a partner to share life with too. Don’t hate us if somedays we can’t give you 100% … We give you our all, give us a bit of you back x

      • If someone is yelling at you, beating you and screaming at you that is abuse and you should immediately seek help. This blog does not advocate abusive relationships. http://www.recovery.org/topics/about-the-codependents-anonymous-12-step-recovery-program/

        • Thank you for your response. This is where depression took my husband. I didn’t realise it was depression initially. I thought we were over, I did run away … ,I did seek help and thought it could be depression. I went back and gave him a chance. Either deserve a doctor, Or I see a solicitor. We went to the doctor and together we fought the depression. He didn’t understand it any more than I did. With help we have it under control now …it’s still there, but we have a grip on it now. It’s not been easy, and I did leave for a while but when you’ve been together for 20 years I needed to know what had gone wrong. Otherwise I was scared the same could happen again in the future with someone else ….I blamed myself. Now I don’t. He knows I won’t tolerate out of control behaviour, but for me leaving wasn’t something I was prepared to do. Occasionally now there is a slight flare but he battles hard to control it. Despite the depression I love my husband. That’s why I say depression is so evil. It comes with no label on how to deal with it, it can’t be totally eradicated, and there’s no consistency or time limit on now long it will last. … But once it’s been identified it can be battled, it can be managed, and it is possible to work together to fight it. We are now 10 years on from diagnosis. It’s tough some days, for both of us, but we promised ‘for better for worse, in sickness and in health’ … And so we work at our marriage, and enjoy the good days all the more.

          • I’m glad to hear that your husband was diagnosed and you are okay now.

          • Good days, bad days … Guess I just wanted to share that although I don’t have depression I think anyone who lives with someone who has carries a good share of the load too. Sometimes invisibly, it used to hurt so much when people told me I didn’t care, or didn’t understand … Or that i was heartless for abandoning him … I had to to save me, and ultimately to help us. Because he was seen as the one who was ill I was considered evil by some friends and family … We try to love, we try to understand, we try to care. Somedays though we can’t do it and need some time to rediscover ourselves, to recharge. Then we can come back stronger to stand alongside you again. Best wishes to all xx

  8. Well described, thank you.

  9. I found CBT helpful fighting my depression and a supportive husband. However sometimes it’s difficult to explain how I feel.I’m going to give these points to him to read because I think they sum it up, especially how life around seems to speed up and I’m standing still in a jumble of thoughts.

  10. I am starting relationship with a wonderful woman who has anxiety disorder. She is a most beautiful soul and I am trying to learn as much about her disorder as I can. I hope I am strong enough to help her through this.

    • To learn more about anxiety disorders and mental health issues in general look to NAMI.org for lots of information. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the country’s largest grassroots organization that deals with Mental Illness and the effect it has on the Individual and family and friends.

  11. I’ve struggled with dysthymia throughout my life, with a major episode of depressive grief when my husband died many years ago. Recently my adult son died and I am depressed again because of the grief. It is worse than when my husband died and understandably but I had forgotten how awful and isolating it is. Friends have fallen away and it feels like a secondary loss. I am muddling through it with the help of a counselor but it is hard. I don’t know what I would’ve done without the discovery that my body is deficient in L-Methylfolate. It made the difference-before my son died-along with my anti-depressant. But still grief is grief and it really sucks . . .

    • I’m so sorry for your losses. How heartbreaking. Much love to you.

    • trista hommerding says:

      Im so sorry for your loss. I lost my husband 7 1/2 years ago and like you I had this explosive feeling of depression and it was tear filled and painful. My heart goes out to you honey. Take care of your self.

    • MissNormaDesmond says:

      I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through.

  12. I suffer from depression and so does my partner. Yet despite both of us knowing how it feels, it can still be difficult to support one another, particularly if we are both going through a ‘down’ period at the same time. This list has helped me not only to process my existing knowledge with better effect, but also to realise that by helping my partner, I can also be helping myself. As you pointed out, it becomes very difficult to do things for yourself when you feel worthless – but doing something for someone else feels less impossible.

    Thank you!

    • MissNormaDesmond says:

      What a wonderful insight.

    • Totally true, Cujo, about it being easier to make the effort for someone else. I am thankful to have a child at home that I have to keep going for. Also, it makes a huge difference when my husband gives me positive feedback when I accomplish something that I have been putting off. It gives me more reasons to keep moving, and eventually, I think, I will pull myself out of this rut.

  13. WOW. I just left the bedroom & came to the lounge room as i couldnt sleep after my husband pushed me away once again. Yesterday he was good. Today is another day. I never know what each day will bring, and I never know what helps. I always blame myself, thinking that it is ME that depresses him, and yet I’m pretty sure that isn’t true. I need strength to hang in there with him and support him, but it is so hard when you get pushed away time after time. I feel such rejection from him. Thanks for sharing – I think I need to go back to bed, and just roll over and touch him so he knows that I am there for him.

    • by the way…..it is NOT 9am on this side of the world !! lol

    • It is NOT you. His mind is a fog. His emotions are either lead or fire. His good days are a victorious struggle people who aren’t depressed can’t comprehend. His bad days are just more evidence he’s not worth it. Hang in there, but also take care of YOURSELF. There are some pretty bad comments here about partners who have left, but seriously, I am amazed anyone stays! Good for you.

    • I feel like you described my situation. Except it is my girlfriend that is that way towards me, and I’m the one being pushed away, wondering if I should be blaming myself.

  14. Sharon Sherrod says:

    Thank you for writing such a simple, but extremely helpful article. Blessings to you and your family.

  15. Just to be clear to other commenters: Bi-polar disorder and depression are totally different illnesses. People who are bi-polar are often depressed as a side effect Of their condition, but simply suffering from depression is NOT the same as having bi-polar disorder.

    • Absolutely true they are two different animals.

    • No kidding. Often times, people only see the depression side of it in me and figure “Oh, she’s just depressed again.” Dealing with mixed bipolarity is (for me) like suddenly being trapped in a sound proof room with a glass wall. I hear and see myself doing things I’d never do when not having an episode, but no one can hear or see the real me screaming at myself to stop, or asking them for help.It’s more than depression. But that doesn’t mean this article can’t help. I appreciate it, and the author. <3

      • Nothing in the post is intended to “cure” depression, it is merely a resource for those who want to help their partners. It is most definitely relevant for more situations I’m sure.

      • Cori, as a 20 year old who has dealt with bipolar disorder since I was 10, I am terribly relieved that someone found a way to describe that feeling. To combat that, I surround myself with people who get it. When I’m not having an episode, I try to let them know what I am going to need when I do have an episode, so that they can help me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But when it does, its a lifesaver

      • MissNormaDesmond says:

        Well, I obviously can’t argue with your experience of your disease, but I have to point out that not everyone’s experience is the same. I think it’s highly misleading and dangerous to draw a bright line and insist that someone who’s only experienced depression so far could not possibly be suffering from Bipolar Disorder, because I’ve actually seen that happen to someone close to me and the damage it caused. The person involved never received appropriate treatment, and spent the last several years of their life denying their manic phases, spending literally millions of dollars while doing so, and alienating most of their friends and family. Your experience of your life is true, and important, and I appreciate your sharing it, but it may not be universal.

        • DeliseHerem says:

          I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 50. I started struggling with depression when I was 18. I had to get out of the depression on my own. I only sought help when I had a nervous breakdown at 30. I was on an anti-depressant and only sought help when I was depressed. I had a couple of psychotic episodes after I was 50. I had been diagnosed wrong for years. For me, being bipolar has been so much harder than depression. They both suck; anyone who is suicidal like I have felt so many days of my life needs to be complimented for holding on. I hope in the near future they will come up with a blood test that can tell you what your brain needs. Thanks to all those care givers who stick it out.

  16. HelpMeHelpUs says:

    There are so many things I am doing wrong… but I am not leaving. She has been struggling potentially since childhood, it just took me 20 years to see it as something more than “her problem I don’t understand”. Thank you for this article. What resources can I find to continue my education on being supportive, as well as my own well-being? (I find I am off balance and feel helpless) I consider this my first step…

    • I am currently looking for resources to help partners and will write a post about it soon. You ABSOLUTELY need to be supported too.

      • Beyondblue.org.au is a great resource with information and links for those suffering, those who love, care for, work with or in some way know a person with depression or other related disorders.
        For those living in Australia like myself it also has links to how and where to find help (can be anonymous if you want).

        In regards to the comments about depression and bi polar…
        I’ve been diagnosed as having depression essentially since birth, when diagnosed at nearly 20 years old my doctor explained to me that my chemical imbalance having gone unchecked for so long and becoming so severe had resulted in my showing bi polar tendencies along with the paranoia and occasional psychosis which had led to my parents seeking treatment for me.

        Meaning both understandings as they have been presented in the comments are true. Bipolar is a condition in its own right, though it can also develop or be related to depression and those who experience one may or may not experience the other.

        I absolutely understand the frustration some of the commenters have shown in their wanting the ‘right information’ to be given, but please remember we all need support and consideration. The research and understanding of them is constantly under review and no two people experience either in exactly the same way. Our medical professionals are also subject to understanding them in different ways depending on what resources, studies and patients they have encountered.
        Just try and remember that before you let the aggression about being lumped together mistakenly or misunderstood bubble up through you, particularly while you respond in a place like this where helpful discussion is what was intended.

  17. Kelly, you are my newest hero!

    Like you, I’ve spent my whole life overcoming this disease of the mind. And like all, I’ve also lost loved ones who took their own life. When I see someone like you educating people and removing stigmas, it gives me courage to step out of the shadows and find ways to reach those who can’t see a way out.

    Thank you for a great piece. Here’s my two cents…
    #8 is a good point.
    Especially pointing out past successes. In fact, a key symptom is Anhedonia. It means loss of pleasure or interest in activities you used to enjoy. Many people suffering from depression stop doing things they used to love. So take that loved one out to do that thing again. Dancing, fishing, whatever. It really helps us to remember “the way we used to be.”

    And challenging those dark thoughts is critical. But always remember that everyone’s thoughts are real, but it’s the ILLNESS that warps the depressed mind, that distorts our thoughts so badly we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Think of this way… If a loved one developed cancer, of course you would offer them positive support. But you wouldn’t tell that same person that their abnormal, destructive cells aren’t reality, or remind them that they have millions of other healthy cells.
    My point is, if your loved one is sick, then treat them as such. Challenge their dangerous thinking by calling it out for what it is, a cancer of our thoughts. Remind them that those thoughts aren’t normal. Remind them that it’s okay to seek medical care when an organ is failing. Remind them that there are many options available to treat their condition. Remind them that many people learn how to fight this “Tiger” and go on to live rich, fulfilling lives. I’m proof of that. But only because many years ago, I trusted a loving friend enough to share my thoughts and they loved me enough to tell me, “I don’t want to lose you. Your not supposed to feel this way. It’s OK to ask for help.” That conversation saved my life.

    Thanks again!

    PS: I resisted buying a sunlamp for years. I was a fool. It’s awesome. I love it! I actually wrote this reply during my daily bask.

    • Thank you for your insightful comments! Yes, I completely agree! Definitely do not tell people their thoughts are wrong or bad, but gently remind them that they are a product of the depression! If someone who is depressed is thinking “I’m worthless” and they are treated in a way that reinforces that thought, it will only make things worse. I hope I am communicating my thoughts clearly!

    • The Sun or a sunlamp is HUGE! I used to go out each day at noon on the back porch where no one could see me, or out behind my car in the parking lot at work. My therapist said, put your face to the sun and close your eyes. Feel it on your face. Breathe deep. Exhale. Over and over slowly. It just works. Just 10 or 15 minutes. Heck just five minutes, or one! Anything is better than nothing. Small steps lead to big steps.

  18. I wish I had seen this about four years ago when a friend of mine became one of my housemates in college. I was very tired of school, overwhelmed with the work load, with my job and lacking on sleep. I wish I had done what you suggested in this article. He was frequently pissed with himself for his perceived lack of worth and perceived lack of talent. It pained me to hear him talk about himself in such a mean way and yet when I tried to tell him how good he was at x or how I thought he was talented at y he wouldn’t hear it and it would make him all the more frustrated that I wasn’t getting it. In addition, he would often break down crying in the living room, unfortunately this was often right about when I wanted to really get cracking on my papers. Due to his depression it was hard for him to reciprocate the time and attention that I gave to him. Unfortunately the constant giving without receiving really took its toll on how I related with him and our friendship definitely took a hit. We no longer live together but are still friends and are slowly rebuilding our friendship. I will definitely take this advice to heart.

  19. This list is wonderful ! I’m passing it on to my boyfriend πŸ™‚
    I suffer from severe depression off and on as a side effect of having borderline personality disorder . It’s really hard for my other loved ones to understand my issues . Often times they become frustrated and angry . They blame me for not “just getting over it “, not realizing it’s a health condition that takes time to treat . I’ve tried educating and explaining what I personally go through . But to no avail sometimes. People wonder why mental health sufferers feel so alone . It’s because of the stigma and misunderstanding .
    Mental illness is not taken seriously which is why there needs to be better information so that there is less stigma.

    • I hear you, Aimee. I’ve just stopped trying to explain it to people. “Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” But even more important is that I’ve finally discovered (after only 28 years) is that my condition does not define ME. Consider other people with lifelong conditions (e.g. people confined to wheelchairs). I always thought those ones who acted as if their life was the same as everyone else were kidding themselves, in denial. Now I understand. We are all (perfectly) unique. Work on taking off the label and just being you as you want to be. And BTW, what other people THINK about us, is none of our business.

      If you ever need a point of pride to hang your hat on, then you should get a T-shirt made that says, “I have BPD!!! I admit it!!! I’m treating it!!” 99.9999% of the world has no idea what kind of accomplishment just admitting is. But I do and I am extremely impressed.

      If you haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend the book, “Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissistic” by Margalis Fjelstad, PhD. I feel it would be a great resource to help your BF understand you better. More importantly, it improved my life by helping me discern when my crazy was me and when it was being triggered by some of my “loved ones.” It contains valuable insight and real techniques that work. I recommend it to anyone who suffers from chronic depression.

  20. This is a truly magnificent article, but I have to interject. This entire post is about having the depressed person take care of themselves or being helped by others. Bravo and amen. Personally, what I have found helpful for myself and others is to get the depressed person doing something,anything, no matter how small, for someone else. Humans waste away when we become self-absorbed too much, and depression feeds that, its a vicious double whammy. Start small. Can they not clean up everything, but just do that ONE thing, the results of which can be seen? Put your shoes away. Bring in the mail so your partner doesn’t have to. Take out just one trashcan. Walk the dog a short ways. Can they write a letter when you’re with them to a family member who they know is hurting themselves? Perhaps Aunt Sally now that Joe passed away? Then, when a little better, can you get them to volunteer with you at a charity or something like that? Not for a long period of time and not in a crowd. Now, you have to be at a point where they can handle getting out and you need to make sure they know its not a commitment, just a one-time thing each time. But it helps immensely. I know, it helped me. Probably saved my life.
    God bless you all.

    • This is a really good point. Anything to get out of the depressed head space and doing something productive. Getting pot plants to look after brought some tiny moments of joy to my life at my darkest point because I had to take responsibility for these other living things and it forced me out of that crippling insular negative self-absorption that comes with depression, if only for a few minutes a week. And people noticed and liked my plants. I could see my ex and house mates delight in the flowers. My mum started sending me clippings from the paper about plants and gardens. People asked for cuttings from my plants. The lemon tree in the back yard went absolutely nuts so I bagged up the lemons and put them out for my neighbours to take. My ex dragged my depressed arse to a revegetation volunteer day planting native plants by a suburban creek. My aunt, who was working 6 days a week, got me to help tidy her garden. I ended up becoming a horticulturist, so you never know where that tiny something will lead!

    • There’s a lot of wise advice in this article and the readers’ comments, but this advice in particular is very wise. I suffered from near-suicidal depression for fifty years. The best things I ever did to cure it were start teaching – well into my sixties – and care for someone in much worse shape than myself. I found that when circumstances DEMANDED that I not be mired in depression, I could, with near super-human effort, lift myself up out of it. That was, and still is, an amazing feeling of empowerment. I rarely suffer from depression anymore.

      • Thank you for your perspective! Teaching was not good for my depression personally, but different things work for different people!

  21. Interesting article … I have a question though … if you have done some of the things on this list and your partner doesn’t respond to any of them, what else can I do to help? I can get very hurt and frustrated when he is going through this and it happens often … he also may have PTSD, which is different from depression .. but still struggles with depression/anxiety …. I struggle with drepression/anxiety too, but I’m aware of how to stay ahead of it, but he is not self aware enough and is not very accepting to these type of self help strategies. What more can I do? I need to keep my sanity too… I typically just leave him alone and do something else, but it makes me feel sad then … any help would be appreciated! Thank you.

    • Supermommy says:

      The problem with depression is we can’t ENJOY what you do for us in the moment. Don’t think he hasn’t noticed, though. We tend to have a very long memory. Keep trying, and ask if he needs x or y. Don’t say “anything,” that is simply too big of a concept at the moment. “Do you want me to stay and hold you or would you like some time alone?” “I’m going on a nature hike, and I would love your company. Will you come with me?” Thank you for trying and sticking with. It means more than you know.

    • Leslie,
      Your question struck a chord with me. In the past when I would go through some very long and dark periods, I would withdraw and shut down all communication, too. There was one friend who knew my condition. He would sense when I was becoming unresponsive. During those times, he would leave occasional messages (text, VM, FB, email). Not a barrage, more like reminder calls. The message was usually a version of, “I saw/did X today and it made me think of you” or “Hey, buddy. Thinking of you. I know you’re in one of your “blue” times, but I’m here if you want to talk.” Looking back, I realize how much those messages meant. When I did reach out, it was to him. Over time, I learned to reach out to him before I got too blue.

      I don’t know much about PTSD, but those are my thoughts re: depression. Good luck

      [And buy him a nice journal and a really nice pen (try to match the color, size, type he carries with him).]

    • Leslie, I hope you get this! I ended up with PTSD, and PADS (Post Adoption Depression Syndrome) following the placement of our 3 now adopted children. Although I would say I struggled with Depression for much of my life. With their entrance everything bad from my childhood emerged. On top of that our daughter would scream at me for hours 3-4 times a week telling me how terrible I was, how much she hated me, how ugly I was… this could be caused simply by wanting to go outside! Anything and everything set her off….It truly was the most awful thing I have ever experienced. I was on antidepressants for almost 2 years! I also found seeing a counselor was very positive (I chose a Christian Counselor) Something I have found more recently is energy healing. I use Carol Tuttle workshops as I really like her Dressing Your Truth program also. http://caroltuttle.com/about-energy-healing/ Some of it seems so quacky but I truly can’t believe how well it worked for myself. So what happens is your adult self goes back and talks to and helps your younger self (or when ever the issue happened). I know there is a specific name for this therapy but I can’t remember it right now. For myself, I had a few childhood memories that I was really struggling with. They were eating away at my mind. After doing this exercise what came to my mouth was I felt unloved. I came from a broken family and felt no one wanted me…I wasn’t good enough to be loved…Anyway doing this I realized it is ok for someone to love me and accepting that my hubby does in fact love me, he isn’t lying when he says it. God does love me. I can be who I am and I am exactly who I should be. I knew for a long time what the issue was but I didn’t know what to do with that information. You have to be able to heal it! I also struggled from severe panic attacks. (they resembled an anaphylactic reaction) I thought I was allergic to something my throat swelled up and everything! Turns out is was just massive stress I had to take Benadryl to be able to breath!! I hope this helps you!

      • I forgot to add that I know sometimes Depression is caused by imbalances and a few books that helped were A Diet Cure by Julie Ross. This book has an Amino Acid/supplement protocol and Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen DesMaisons Ph.D. which works on balancing blood sugar!

  22. Hi Kelley.
    This is wonderful! I am glad that you have taken the time to write it. I hope that more people read it and can help support people with depression. Just one thing it might be worth reading into yourself as bit of bedtime reading or such is the 3 principals, it really helped be get over my suicidal, manic depressive episode a few years ago and I still ‘use’ it every day. It made a massive difference to me and Ive recommended it to lots of people so I just thought it might be worth mentioning as we are on the topic. Thanks again πŸ™‚ jess

    • Thank you for the recommendation. I hope to compile a list of resources and post it on the blog soon and will include that.