How do you keep your relationship healthy when your partner is depressed? † My guide

How do you handleYou often read stories about people who are sick themselves, but how do you actually handle it as a partner, family member or friend? In this section, experts provide practical tips. This week: Eveline (46) has a partner with depression.

“It’s a challenge to find your own balance when your partner has depression,” says Eveline (46). It was especially complicated for Eveline when the children were young because her husband suffers from recurrent depression. “For example, my partner did not like celebrating Sinterklaas. Then he did not go. I had to learn to put the children’s interests first and also do something for myself every now and then. ” Fortunately, things are going much better now. However, there is a good chance that the complaints will return. What can Eveline do and especially not?

In the Netherlands, 8 percent of the population aged 12 or older suffer from depression each year. That equates to more than 1 million people. Women are even more likely to suffer from depression than men.

Clinical psychologist Huub Buijssen has more than 25 years of experience and has written the book When a loved one is depressed† He explains that we talk about depression when someone has a very depressed mood for at least two weeks and can not enjoy life. Add to that at least three of these symptoms: poor sleep, loss of appetite, feelings of worthlessness, restlessness, fatigue, lack of energy to get out of bed, and avoidance of friends, family, and social activities. It is also possible that the person sometimes talks about suicide. ”

The importance of listening

It’s easy to think: ‘Everyone has a bad day sometimes’, but according to Buijssen it is too short-sighted. “Depression is not feeling emotions anymore. You feel emptiness where you should feel something. If you suffer from depression, you stop moving.”


You think you’re talking to the person you know, but you’re talking to the depression

Huub Buijssen

Buijssen emphasizes the importance of listening to his partner and showing understanding. “You think you’re talking to the person you know, but you’re talking to the depression. Self-confidence in people with depression is also much lower.” People with depression probably want to do something, but they do not succeed. They will then feel even more powerless and that causes irritation. “An important question to ask is: what do you need?”

Do not forget your own boundaries

It makes good sense that you would like to help your partner, but you should not exceed your own limits. Bjarne Timonen is a health psychologist and author of The lifestyle guide for Gloom, he explains that it is important that you remain a partner rather than an advisor. The border can easily fade and then you can also develop gloom yourself. “Make sure you sleep well, eat and get enough exercise.” He adds that as a partner for someone with depression, one should not feel guilty. “Try to keep seeing your own friends and family.”


Burnout seems socially acceptable, but depression still carries a stigma

Huub Buijssen

Ultimately, it is important for depressed people to seek professional help so that they can get out of depression or learn to deal with it. It starts with acknowledging the depression and then taking the step to go to the doctor. “A burnout seems socially acceptable, but there is still a stigma around depression,” says Buijssen. Therefore, it can help if you as a partner help in this quest.

Timonen adds that it can also be good for the partner himself. “It can be nice if you can join in every now and then so you can get some air and your relationship stays healthy.” Besides wanting to help your depressed partner, sometimes listening is enough. “Sometimes you just have to tell them you love your partner. It is important because at that moment they have a hard time loving themselves, “says Buijssen.

What does Eveline think of the council? “I can agree with that. It is important to be there for your partner, not to judge and give a listening ear. Especially if a depression lasts a long time, it is about resilience. I especially learned to take good care of myself. myself, for example, I went on a yoga retreat to Texel this year and I liked it. ”

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