My Partner’s Depressed: What Can I Do to Help?

What to do when your partner is depressed, but is resistant to seeking help.

photo credit: shutterstock

The patient says…

I’ve felt the exhaustion and despair of depression many times, and the idea of seeking help felt like too much to take on. Here are some suggestions that have helped me emerge from some very dark days.

A gentle approach has always worked best.

It can be tempting to feel angry and frustrated with a partner who refuses to seek treatment, but a harsh attitude can exacerbate the situation. A few encouraging and supportive words can make all the difference. Acknowledge that he is going through a difficult time, express your love and support, and gently suggest that it’s time to get help.

Set up an appointment

When you’re struggling with depression, the most basic tasks can feel overwhelming, including scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional. Offer to take charge of making an appointment with a doctor or therapist for your partner. Once it’s been scheduled, take it a step further and offer to accompany him to the appointment.

Find people to help

If you feel your message isn’t getting through, ask for help from your partner’s family or closest friends. A team approach can offer more encouragement than you may have to give on your own.

-Elizabeth Wiener, an educator who lives with depression and anxiety

photo credit: shutterstock

The clinical psychologist says…

In my practice, I work with people who struggle with depression. It’s not unusual for clients to feel apprehensive about beginning therapy, which is a reasonable response to a new situation. Once they begin the therapeutic process, when they feel nurtured, supported and safe, the apprehension disappears and the healing begins.

Seeking professional help

Encourage your partner to visit a medical doctor to discuss his symptoms and rule out any underlying conditions. If your partner has a trusting relationship with his doctor, he might be more receptive to accepting a referral for a therapist.

Finding the right therapist

Depression can often be accompanied by feelings of shame and embarrassment. Helping your partner find the right therapist is the key to building a trusting, open and therapeutic relationship. Interview potential therapists, ask questions and become informed about their approach to find the best fit.

Consider getting support for yourself

A therapist can give you tools to help you cope. A support group can also be a safe and informative environment for you to express your concerns and meet others who may be struggling with the same issues.

-Lisa Brookman, a clinical psychotherapist

Together, Elizabeth Wiener and Lisa Brookman form