It can be challenging to maintain relationships and make new connections at the best of times. If you’re suffering from depression, this can feel like an uphill battle! 

Relationships and depression are often linked. In some cases, relationships can trigger depression; in other cases, depression can affect your relationships, even if they’re happy and healthy.

It’s no surprise that a recent study found that depression can affect your relationships in several ways. It can impact many elements of your relationship, including communication, romance, and intimacy. This impact can create isolation and a lack of motivation, leave you feeling dependent on others, or contribute to co-dependency. All these factors can affect your friends, family members, and partner, especially if your depression is severe. 

Here’s what you need to know about how depression affects relationships, the impact it can cause, and what you can do to address it.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder that affects millions of people around the world. People with this medical condition experience various physical and mental symptoms, including sadness and guilt, irritability, anger, feelings of worthlessness, exhaustion, and fatigue. If you’re depressed, you may find it challenging to make decisions and concentrate. You may be eating and sleeping more or less than usual, lose interest in activities you used to enjoy, lose your libido, and perhaps even experience suicidal thoughts.

The symptoms of depression in a relationship can be mild, moderate, or debilitating. There are also a few different types of depression, which can be caused or worsened by life events, living situations, relationships, endocrine disorders, and other factors.

How Depression Affects Relationships

Depression can affect your relationships in many different ways. 

How Depression Affects You

First, it affects you, as you may experience persistent feelings of tiredness, a lack of interest in socializing, and disinterest in spending quality time with your partner. Depression may make you more irritable, reactive, and tearful, which can strain your relationship. 

People with depression often feel shame and guilt when they realize their condition affects their partner and their relationship. This shame or guilt can make it difficult to talk about your feelings.

How Depression Affects Your Partner

Depression in a relationship can affect your partner, too. They may feel anxious around you, shut out, and worried about your overall well-being. Some people also feel that their partner’s depression is their fault and might feel responsible for their happiness or lack thereof. This feeling of emotional responsibility can affect your partner’s mental and emotional health over time.

The Issue Of Intimacy

Depression can also affect intimacy within a relationship. A lack of intimacy can lead to less connection within a relationship and cause all parties involved to feel less desirable. This condition often leads to a loss of interest in sex and can cause sexual dysfunction, as can many medications for depression.

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

Although depression can negatively impact relationships, remember that this condition is treatable. Recognizing the signs, understanding the type of depression you’re suffering from, and knowing that you don’t have to face it alone are crucial to moving forward.

Seek Professional Help

The first step to limiting depression’s effects on your relationship is to see a doctor or mental health professional who can diagnose depression and explain your treatment options.

Treatment for depression in relationships can vary but usually includes a range of therapies, such as medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and self-care. You may find it helpful to  journal your feelings and triggers. Setting incremental goals that benefit your mental health, like reaching out to friends or getting more exercise, is a good idea too.

Grow Your Network

Many people with depression find it helpful to ask their partners, friends, or family members for help and support. If you are uncomfortable with this, you can join an in-person or online support group.

You can strengthen your connection with your partner by sharing your feelings with them and explaining your challenges. Tell them how your depression affects you and what you need them to do to support your healing process. Acknowledge that your depression may impact them, and ask them to share how they feel. 

Revive The Feeling Of Intimacy

Intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex; it simply means feeling close to one another. Wherever possible, maintain intimacy in ways that feel most comfortable, like hugging or holding hands. Make space and time for you and your partner to care for yourselves and each other. 

Focus on ways to deepen your connection and express yourselves while finding comfort and joy together. 

Contact Us for Support

If you struggle to speak to your partner about your depression, talking to a couples counselor may help. Connect Couples Therapy offers various counseling services to help you reconnect with your partner and manage your symptoms. 

Contact us for more information about our services and let our qualified counselors help you to manage the effects of depression on your relationships.

Steph Davidson is a content manager with over ten years of experience in writing, editing, blog development, SEO, marketing, and media relations. Steph lives in Toronto and can be found drinking tea and watching horror movies when she’s not working with words.