How do I support my partner in his depression

I have been with my partner just 3 months, this last month his job became very stressful and he changed, i actually thought his feelings for me had changed, in the space of a few days it was if he had gone off me , he has finally admitted that he was diagonosed with depression last year and was on meds, and having councilling, He stopped this after 3 months as he thought he was ok. He has been back to the doctor and has started the meds again and is waiting for an appointment to see a councillor. I have said I will support him and be there for him, I love him very much, tho I find it hard to deal the lack of love he shows, tho he swears he loves me totally, What I need to know is how do I support him, how do I help him ?

32 Replies

  • Just be there for him. It can be very hard to show your feelings when you're depressed, it is sometimes like you've been completely turned inside out if that makes sense. Every little thing pokes at the very deepest core of you.

    Try not to take it too personally, it can be very difficult being with someone with depression but remember, they didn't ask to be like's an illness though it doesn't show on the outside.

    Moods can change from one minute to another, be prepared to be shut out, let in, shut out again.

    My husband has had to put up with over ten years of me being like this, I've made him cry and then felt guilty cos I'm not angry at him, I'm frustrated with me.

    Hope this helps,


  • Thanks for the reply, I have vowed not to cry in front of him today, I know it makes him feel guilty and so makes his depression worse. It going to be a long hard road but I have the choice to go down it, he doesnt, I will take on board that it not personal, and he cant show his love when he feels this way, He is a very quiet man and retreats into himself, over the last few days I have left him to it while still popping in to see if he needs anything and just to tell him I love him and to give him a hug. I want to actually just grab him and take it all away , if only life was so simple .

    It good to hear that you have a supportive husband and I wish you both well .

  • Three months is a very short time to be completely sure how you feel about each other. I think it's wonderful that he has found someone so supportive and understanding in you. My worry is that you don't have a benchmark. You don't know what he was like before he was depressed to be able to make a comparison. To fully support someone who has depression takes a huge amount of work, effort and understanding on your part. Sometimes it's only actually knowing that beneath the turmoil lies a person who loves you as much as you do him, that helps you through. If you're finding it hard to deal with the lack of love he is showing, you're at a vulnerable starting point. When you're supporting someone who is really depressed, your needs sometimes have to come second. This will be extremely hard for you if you have concerns about the relationship. My advice to you is to maintain the same expectations you would have of any relationship at three months - having fun, lots of dates and getting to know each other. While it's great that you want to support someone you obviously care a great deal for, it's important not to let it engulf you. If things are particularly tough for him at the moment, give him breathing space, show him that you care, and be prepared to ride the storm. When he starts to pick back up again, you can continue where you've left off x

  • Thanks for your reply, We are not young teens , we are both in late.40.s and know what we want, I understand what you are saying but I have made the choice to be there for him , the wonderful caring man is still there , even with the depression, It just he too tired to show it in any way, he feels guilty that he has let me down in some way, I have told him he hasnt , and I have told him , now I know its not personal I can understand more, I didnt know about the depression, I know it isnt going to be easy, and I know I gonna have to walk away sometimes and have a good cry and a good poor me moment, But I will not do it in front of him. I know I am lucky, he isnt abusive or aggressive, he retreats into himself, and reading blogs I can see it best to leave him be and just be there when he needs a cuppa . and a hug. Hopefully we can get thru this together , I cant say I will still be here in a years time supporting him, I dont know , but then again in a years time he may not want me , It a chance we are taking, we think it is worth it .

  • The only advice I can give you is that unless this man lifts out of the depression - then you will have a long unpredictable road ahead. I understand that you love him and want a relationship with him - but please be aware that the relationship may be difficult. I wish you all the best - I can tell from your message that you are a very caring person. I do have about 17 years experience of dealing with someone with depression and another mental health illness - (my son). Below is a short precise of what my life is like loving him - as a mother does. I don't want to put you off being with this man - but I do want you to understand how difficult and unpredictable it could be in the long term (for your own sake, health and sanity).

    My 33 year old son was diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression 10 years ago. He has been sectioned several times and has tried to take his own life a few times. He does not live with me. His behaviour disrupted the whole household so we are unable to let him live with us. My husband is not his father and I have another younger son (age 19 years) to care for who does live at home. I try very hard indeed to support my son - but because of his errative moods he sometimes cuts me out of his life altogether. Won't answer my phone calls, my text messages, the door, or agree to see me. At these times I feel very depressed, worried and anxious. There is a carers support group, but these people are dealing with similar issues, whether they are a partner, friend or parent so I don't go very often because I feel they have enough to deal with already without listening to my woes. (Remember that as this man's partner or friend you could also classed as his carer - unpaid or paid). I have felt so ill recently that I have now asked my GP for counselling. On a positive note - my son texted me the other day to ask how I was and phoned me yesterday to see what I had been doing. He ended the conversation by saying he had needed a break from me. I asked if he wanted to meet up - but he hasn't decided yet.

  • Thankyou for your honesty , I know it going to be hard and I realise I am going to sometimes have to stand back and wait for him to ben a more giving place. I have a young daughter and I also have to think of her and the rest of my family, {older ones that have left home} I know that at some time I am going to have to step back and take time out for me. He is working and we live apart so it is going to be easier than living together full time. After all the advice on here I am going to make sure I dont suffocate him 'with love; I think that will just drive him away as he already has gulit about not giving me the affection , I wish you luck and hope you get to see your son soon,

  • It sounds like you have already hit on the things that matter. Be there. Let him know you are there. Pep talks don't work (get up and go has got up and went :)) Don't feel you have to understand where he is because I don't think you can unless you are there and he's not going to want that ... and may be he fears dragging you down with him. Hugs can be good - skin contact promotes the release of chemicals in the brain that can lighten the mood ... but you may not get a hug back and you might get a pulling away if he feels that you are 'expecting' things to be reciprocated ... or at least that's the way it works for me.

    Best of luck.

  • thank you for your advice and wishes, He loves a cuddle and your right I dont tend to get one back, Sometimes but not often, And your right he is afraid of taking me down too, He does text me during the day so I know he thinks about me, thats my cuddle, I understand that he is scared of upsetting me, doesnt mean I dont get upset, but I have managed 2 days now with no tears in front of him and he seemed a little easier tonight , so maybe its working, Well for today it is. One day at a time, I have told him I cant promise not to get angry about it on occasions, I do appreciate all the advice and people are really being helpful xx

  • Please give him time and space and appreciate that no matter what it is an illness.

    My wife didn't couldn't cope and left and I'm still trying to cope with that as well as the other.

  • I understand it not his fault, I am having a bad day today , but he,s not here, he is at work so I will have my bad day and put the smile back on when I see him. I,m sorry your wife couldnt cope, some people are stronger than others , so it not her fault it just the way she is, I hope you find a way to cope, time eases the pain, I have been there .And really the best way is to take one day at a time, and each day is one day further away from the pain.

  • True but some days, well you know.

    Thanks for replying.

    They say its hardest for those closest to people with depression, don't I know it.

    Have you ever read, Living with the black dog? It's a small graphic novel aimed at those who live with depressed people. You can find the main one on youtube. I had a black dog, it's called.

  • hi , well not seen or hardly spoke to him this weekend, I,m at a loss, i dont know if to finish it so he doesnt have to worry about the effect it having on me or stick in there and hope he comes back , So totally confused ,

  • If its in you, stick in there.

    Perhaps a letter with your feelings in it if you can't get a face to face?

    There's no easy answer and as much as I won't to scream, stay with him damnit, due to my own experience with my ex wife, I won't as your situation is different. Maybe you'll need to give him time, I dunno.

    Depression tends to make you hideaway, it also kills any lovey type feelings in you too leaving you numb and cold not only with yourself but others too. As long as you treat all of these things like symptoms of an illness perhaps you can both help each other.

    I hope this helps a bit.

  • Thanks Sheraton,

    He is coming round tomorrow and we will have an honest talk, I really dont know what is going to happen ,

  • Best of luck. Just be open and honest.

    Hope it went well.

  • He didnt turn up, got held up at work and he would have had to rush and worry about getting here , so leaving it till weekend, Im finding the lack of love and thought very hard at the minute, and I know it the illness , not him, He says he doesnt feel anything , just empty. I am fighting with blaming myself for not being the person that is good enough to make him feel better. He is having an assesment tonight with who I dont know, I didnt want to ask too many questions, but he is feeling positive about it, and hopeful, that they will get him back into counselling .

  • Just remember please, that it's not you. As hard as that is to understand because it is so personal but it isn't you. I'm sorry. I wish I could help more.

  • Those words have probably helped more than anything, I so want the man back I fell for, I know he loves me and he deserves to be loved and happy He really is wonderful.

  • Tell him that when you meet, you probably know that anyhow. With this illness though its easy to take things personal but with this illness, tricky I know, try not to.

    As bad as he feels now I think, or rather know from personal that when it lifts he'll feel worse that someone he loved, probably still does, is no longer there for him.

    I hope that makes some sense.

  • It does , and thank you, Today is a new day, so chin up, and positive head on,

  • Any more news bos63?

  • Hi

    He has decided he wants to be on his own to handle it, He worries that he brinign me down too, so we gonna just be friends, . I cant force him, not happy about it but it what he wants.

    Thanks for the advice and all the comments, but I feel at a loss to what to do, he is such a lovley man when this illness isnt there, occupying his mind constantly.

  • Sorry to hear that. All the best to you both.

  • HI there, have just read your q&a's & some of it rings a bell with me. I too started a relationship with someone 3 months ago. I knew he suffered from severe depression & anxiety before I met him but it didn't phase me - ignorance? Naivety? Non-judgemental? I fell in love with him very quickly - it was very intense, he actually proposed & talks of having baby - but am only now seeing the extent of his illness & very often he disguises it from me & hides things, possibly because he doesn't want to burden me & feels a sense of shame? I adore him but feel that the BPD traits of lying & being unable to maintain long term relationships may be starting to show. I don't know if I'm in too deep, I feel torn between trying to be a stronger, better person & 'sacrifice' a little of myself for him to make his life happier & better, or to back away as it is starting to take it's toll on me? He began writing to people on this depression forum & I suspect began an online relationship with one of them - he lied about her age to me, sent private emails & skyped & is now supposed to have deleted her off all email & phone contacts but I have a gut instinct that this isn't true. Maybe he's merely covering things up to protect my feelings but he reacts very badly when I confront him & this sparks off a series of traumatic thought patterns for him. I hate to upset him, as he is also suicidal, but I don't know what to do? I am now on antidepressant medication & cannot sleep or eat properly, a lot of this anxiety is tied up with my thoughts about him. And yet I am unable to end the relationship - I don't want to at all, I want it to be how it was when we met, but it is stressing me out & causing myself & him some painful emotions. I would consider being 'friends' as I do love him & want to be there but I don't know if I am strong enough to have a relationship with him - it is the hardest thing I have ever done...

  • HI

    This sounds so like my story, I felt exactly as you did, and to some extent still do, He also had the gulit of making me feel so down and unloved and I think it made his depression worse. In the last few days I have felt so much better and he seems to be more settled now that he doesnt have me to worry about , the stress of trying to hide his depression, and try and do things with me were taking its toll on him, so we are still friends and we text all the time, But I let him text me first, so he doesnt feel like he has to reply. He knows I care and I know deep down he does, We will always stay friends and he knows if he wants to talk I will be there for him, but now he can concentrate on him.

    I feel for you as it a really hard decision for you to make, maybe you both need a little space, and should take a few days out, and remember you are not responsible for his actions. and you need to take care of yourself first.

    Be strong , xxx and Good luck x

  • Thank you - it just helps to know I'm not the only one! xxx

  • I realised it better for him not to have me, he needs to concentrate on himself , And no matter what you do he will only do what he wants, it bloody hard to let go,

  • He tells me (& has demonstrated) that he wants me in his life & not just as 'friends'...infact when he thought it was over he was incredibly distressed & had to have emergency higher dose meds & counselling session. I have also had long chats with his parents & they say that he has told them that he loves me very much. Maybe I can't believe that this wonderful man would even be interested in me? We 'clicked' instantly & he knows me & what I'm thinking very well. Can't imagine life without him but am becoming very wary of his illness as I get to know him more...sometimes I make excuses for him because of it & sometimes I am frightened of it. I can see the person underneath but I do worry about the future. I am taking it a day at a time...feel blessed to have met him but I know it's not going to be easy...x

  • Wish my ex wife had felt the same as that.

  • As a man who is worried about his relationship I have much respect for your efforts to support your partners. I have been married 12 years and have had depression for 9.

    I probably wouldn't have held it together without the support of my wife.

    she puts up with a lot and I know she loves me but often I cannot reciprocate.

    I love her but my illness stops me sharing my feelings.

    For me, my irrational thoughts build fears. I dare not say things for fear of losing what I have. My emotions are locked in and I do not share them with those who are closest.

    The love and joy I gain from our relationship is still there but my doubts always need to be fought off.

    I spend a lot of time battling my thoughts and dont have much time to share much positive stuff with people i love.

    I don't share for fear of making my wife feel worse. Guilt is never far away.

    I share this in hope of helping you understand a little of what your friends are going through.

    I could cope on my own but don't want to. I want my old self and relationship back.

    Separation would make things easier in some ways and tougher in others for me.

    I would want the friendship and understanding but would welcome some of the pressures going.

    It's not you. It's not really him. Depression takes away so much that can't be expressed.

    Stay friends. There will be good and bad days. If you can accept that and let him know you still appreciate him, it will help

    I doubt i would enter a relationship while I have depression. I want friendships and those often grow but I would not want to share my unpredictable moods with a partner.

    Now that I am trying to make different choices and not just accepting my depression, I would risk it. I am with my wife. If your friends are seeking other help, support them. If they are relying on only you, be strong and ensure your needs are met.

    in any relationship there has to be a balance of needs and a chance to fulfill your own aspirations.

    Hope this helps.

  • Hi, very interesting to read other experiences & viewpoints. I am finding that with time I am making my own 'coping strategies' and having to be strong to make sure I have the all important 'me time' but also make more of an effort to show support & love to the wonderful man I do love, above anything...a steep learning curve but one I am willing (unstoppably) to undertake. Who knows what hand we're dealt in life? We could all write a list of an 'ideal' partner but very few, if any, of us could truly find that person. I couldn't help meeting a man who happens to have severe depression & anxiety issues, I'm feeling so much stronger now as time goes on...

  • Dave it really does, we are staying friends, he does prefer to be on his own but to know that i am there if he needs to talk, even if its just general chit chat and about how the day has gone. he seems calmer now that he isnt worrying about the effect it had on me/us When I asked why he never told me he said he was embarassed to tell me, I wish I had know from the beggining, I wouldnt have taken it personal when it did happen, and maybe then I wouldnt have been so unhappy thinking it was me, and understood it was the illness, and he wouldnt have had the guilt of making me unhappy, If that makes sense! The gulit made him worse, It always better to be honest from the beginning,

    it is good to know that others are going thru this too and I still pop on to check the chat and to understand more if I can , x good luck to all, xx

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