If you’re depressed, you could be dragging your mate to the dumps with you. Here are 5 common symptoms that wreck relationships – and expert advice on how to get love back on track… When you’re in a relationship and feeling depressed, loveandseek mobile site two people suffer. Karen S., a business executive in her late 20s, had been with her boyfriend eight months when she fell into a funk. She no longer enjoyed her favorite activities, preferring to spend weekends sleeping in and watching TV. Her boyfriend missed the fun-loving, outgoing woman he’d fallen for. He thought she wasn’t interested in him anymore. A few months later, Karen’s doctor diagnosed her with depression. She eventually got the help she needed, but it was too late – the relationship didn’t survive. That doesn’t surprise Miami ily therapist Lisa Paz, Ph.D. “Depression makes the non-depressed partner feel helpless and confused,” she says. “[Faced with] silence, withdrawal, and no sex or desire to do anything, partners think this is the turn the relationship is taking – that this is the way it’s always going to be.”
It’s a serious condition you should have evaluated by a doctor or mental-health professional immediately, for the sake of your own well-being and your relationship
Depression isn’t just occasional sadness. It’s a collection of symptoms, including irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite or sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness or helplessness, a loss of enjoyment in your usual activities, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. If you experience five or more symptoms for at least two weeks, you could have clinical depression, also known as major depression. “Getting treatment and taking positive steps toward helping yourself are some of the best things you can do for you – and your relationship,” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Georgetown University. “Working on getting better and assuring your partner that you’re on that path can go a long way.” To rekindle the romance, we’ve outlined five classic symptoms of depression that erode a relationship. Plus, we asked therapists for their best strategies to help you and your partner survive depression together.
1. Your sex drive tanks.When your mood plummets, it usually takes libido with it, says Paz. Since sex is often the glue that bonds couples, and your guy doesn’t get why you haven’t been intimate lately, he may think you’re not attracted to him or don’t love him anymore. What you can do:Explain that it really is you, not him. And that while your desire has evaporated, it’s not a reflection of your feelings for him. If your doctor recommends antidepressants, ask if you can take medication that will alleviate symptoms without dulling your sex drive even more. “Many antidepressants can exacerbate low desire,” says ily and sex therapist Stephen Betchen, DSW, LMFT, author of Magnetic Partners: Discover How the Hidden Conflict That Once Attracted You to Each Other Is Driving You Apart(Tantor Media). One that doesn’t: bupropion (Wellbutrin). What your partner can do for you: Focus on being close without any expectations about the outcome. “I tell couples to create a situation where it’s not about sex, but physical intimacy,” Bonior says. “Some couples end up cuddling on the couch. Others have sex anyway.”
Their sex life was nonexistent
2. You squabble more.Are you nagging more, or acting short-tempered, impatient and cynical, which leads to fights? “People think depression is about being tearful all the time, but it also comes out as irritability and negativity,” Bonior says. What you can do:Acknowledge that your mood is affecting your behavior. And give him permission to remove himself from the fight, says Bonior. “Some couples work out a script in advance so they have a plan to extricate themselves from arising conflicts.” What your partner can do for you: Though it’s common for the depressed person to pick on a partner, he doesn’t have to take the bait, says Betchen. Instead, he should look for ways to diffuse situations before they blow up. A good start, says Bonior, is saying something like: We’re fighting a lot more. Let’s try to understand what’s going on here. Also, he needs to realize he’s not responsible for making you better. “It’s very common for the nondepressed partner to get angry and frustrated with the person who’s depressed because they haven’t been able to fix or cure them,” Betchen says. “You can help, but don’t try to take on the doctor role.”