Depression is a mental health condition that can affect almost every area of a person’s life – and even those around them.
It can last weeks or months or even years, impacting on both the performance and the quality of life of the sufferer.
Depression begins by affecting feelings and thoughts, resulting in noticeable signs such as: sadness; low mood; loss of interest; and feelings of being unable to cope with daily challenges.
A person who is experiencing depression can suffer from poor work performance, memory difficulties and attention problems.
Physically, their eating habits can change and they may be more vulnerable to disease because their immune defences are weakened.
If the sufferer is in a relationship, their sexual life can be affected. Sexual desire or the search for mutual pleasure may be interrupted, and the consequences in the relationship will be noticeable. Depending on the degree of intensity, the depressed person will experience feelings of unease, anxiety, isolation and lack of pleasurable stimuli. The absence of sexual fantasies or thoughts may result in the couple losing the ability to enjoy sex.
This emotional disorder also impacts the family and social environment. However, many people refuse to accept depression, not wanting to acknowledge it, even though it is a problem that requires specialised professional care.
What Does Depression Do to Relationships?
I am often asked: how can I help my loved one who is suffering from depression?
The attitude of the sufferer and their partner is crucial when dealing with depressive symptoms, so the first step is to remain calm and act positively. You can help your partner or loved one to commit to and follow their treatment.
It is important that depression is detected and treated early to prevent the person from falling into a spiral that will affect not only them, but also your emotional and sexual life. Unfortunately, depression tends to spread, so everyone involved has to be careful not to fall into it also.
Depression can affect relationships in different ways, so it is important to:
- Know that your enemy is depression, not your partner. It is important to develop an approach to depression based on the “we” and not “I”.
- Find out and learn all about depression. Seek professional advice. If depression has been present for a long time, both the relationship and the depression will most likely require attention.
- Organise individual recovery strategies with your partner. It is the safest way to attack depression.
- Create additional systems, outside organised help. Complaints only fuel resentment and aggravate the problem, whereas expression helps the healing process. Your support network may include friends, colleagues, churches, support groups and any place you consider safe to share about what is happening.
- Perform recovery activities together, such as attending therapy sessions, and reading books about overcoming depression. Exercise together, or keep records of moods. If you have children that are old enough to understand, talk to them and teach them about depression.
Psychotherapy has been proven very effective in treating various types of depression. For example, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps sufferers to understand and learn to solve their problems. The goal of therapy overall is to teach the depression sufferer new strategies and behaviours to help them learn new healthy lifestyle patterns – and enjoy a better quality of life.
Author: Janet Moreno, B Sc Psych (Hons), Grad Dip AOD, M HRM, Associate Member ASORC.
Janet Moreno is a psychotherapist and rehabilitation counsellor with over 11 years of experience. She is fluent in both English and Spanish, and sees children, adults and couples. Find out more at her website: www.colibritherapy.com.au.
To make an enquiry or book an appointment with psychotherapist Janet Moreno, freecall 1800 877 924 today or book online.