Depression can put a strain on the strongest of relationships. Each year about 19 million people in the U.S. suffer from depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Depression affects the way a person interacts with others. It may cause her to withdraw or seem uninterested in life. If you are in a relationship with a woman who is suffering from depression, it can be frustrating, confusing and emotionally draining. Taking the appropriate steps can help you deal with this difficult situation.
Learn about depression. Understanding this serious illness will help you make sense of symptoms that might otherwise be confusing. Depression can cause feelings of irritability, hopelessness, guilt, exhaustion and loss of interest in activities—even sexual activities. It can also cause a person to have difficulty with concentration, memory and decisions. Additionally, depression can be the source of a variety of aches and pains. Understanding that these are symptoms of the illness will help you recognize that neither you nor your girlfriend is to blame.
Be supportive. Nearly 70 percent of people who suffer from depression completely recover from these symptoms with the right treatment, according to Mental Health America. Unfortunately, most people don't seek treatment due to misconceptions and stigma. There are many treatment options including therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Support groups can also assist in recovery. By being positive about treatment, you can encourage your girlfriend to get the help she needs.
Care for yourself. Depression in a relationship can become all-consuming. Having enjoyable hobbies and outside interests will help you maintain a sense of balance and keep your own joy. Also, having friendships outside of your relationship will help you cope. You may benefit from seeking individual counseling to help you deal with the difficulties of a loved one's depression.
Recognize limitations. Both you and your girlfriend have limitations. While you may be eager to help, you can't solve this on your own, nor can you force your girlfriend to accept treatment. Recovering from depression takes time. Even once treatment has begun, your girlfriend may suffer from residual symptoms or may have a recurrence of symptoms over time. Recognizing these human limitations can help you know what to expect and have patience.