Depression is a mental health disorder that can affect people from all walks of life, and it can be difficult to know how to best support your loved one who is struggling with depression. If your partner is struggling with depression, here are 10 best tips to help you support them while long-distance.
If you have suffered from depression, you know how serious and debilitating it can be and how hard it can be to keep going day-to-day.
But if you have never suffered from depression, it can be difficult to understand what a depression sufferer is going through.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship and your partner is struggling with depression, it can be difficult to know how to best support them.
The good news is, with these 10 best tips you can help ease your partner’s depression and support them through this tough time.
1. Educate yourself about depression.
If you want to be able to effectively support your partner, you must take the time to educate yourself about depression; start by doing some research and reading about the condition.
The more you know about depression, the better equipped you will be to understand how it's affecting your partner's life and what they are going through, and how to best support them.
Now is the time to educate yourself and there are many resources available online to help you out, so read books, and articles, and talk to professionals to learn as much as you can.
2. Encourage your partner to seek professional help — if they are not already doing so.
Depression is a serious mental health disorder that requires treatment, so the most important step you can take to support your partner is to encourage them to seek the help they need from a mental health professional.
A therapist or psychiatrist — depending on their situation — can provide invaluable support and guidance and can help your partner understand and manage their depression in a healthy and productive way.
If your partner is already seeing a mental health professional, make sure you are supportive of their treatment plan and their efforts to heal.
3. Check in and listen to your partner regularly and validate their feelings.
When you’re in a long-distance relationship, communication is key; check in with your partner regularly and ask how they’re doing.
Your partner may not always want to talk about how they are feeling, so when they do talk, be a good listener. Listen without judgment and try to understand how they are feeling; it can be helpful to ask questions about their experiences so you can gain clarity.
Most importantly, validate your partner’s feelings; let them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do and that you’re there for them and want to help however you can.
It can be easy to want to try to fix things or make them feel better, but sometimes just listening and being there for your partner is what they need most.
4. Avoid giving advice and trying to fix your partner’s depression.
When your partner is talking to you about their depression, it can be tempting to want to offer them advice or try to come up with solutions to “fix” their depression.
However, avoid giving unsolicited advice and solutions because your partner is the expert on their own life and experiences; they are in the best position to know what they need.
Not to mention, offering advice can make your partner feel like you don’t understand or aren’t listening to them which can further invalidate their feelings.
It is not your job to try and fix your partner’s depression, if you want to offer support, listen and ask your partner what they need from you or what would be helpful.
Depression is different for everyone and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s key to let your partner work through their depression with professional help.
5. Help your partner find healthy coping mechanisms for their depression.
While medication and therapy are vital for treating depression, many healthy coping mechanisms can help ease symptoms and provide relief.
Encourage your partner to find coping mechanisms that work for them and that they can do from anywhere, such as:
- Exercise: Physical activity can help lift mood, improve sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Journaling: Writing down thoughts and feelings can help identify negative thought patterns and work through them in a constructive way.
- Spending time outdoors: Nature has been shown to have mood-boosting and stress-reducing effects.
- Spending time with friends and family: Social support is vital for managing depression.
- Relaxation techniques: Techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help ease stress and anxiety.
There are many helpful resources available online with ideas for healthy coping mechanisms, so do some research and explore what might work for your partner.
6. Be patient with your partner as they work through their depression and remember that recovery takes time.
Recovery from depression isn't an overnight fix, it's a process that takes time and there are ups and downs along the way so be patient with your partner as they navigate their recovery.
Be understanding and supportive when your partner is having a tough day, week, or month; they are doing the best they can.
Offer support and encouragement, but also give your partner space when they need it. It’s crucial to respect their boundaries and not try to push them to open up or share more than they are comfortable with.
And, remember that relapses are common, so if your partner starts to feel like their depression is getting worse again, encourage them to reach out to their therapist or doctor.
7. Offer to do things together.
Staying connected is important in any relationship, but it’s especially important when you can’t be together in person.
It can be hard when you can’t be there in person for your partner, but there are still many things you can do together even if you’re apart. Offer to do things together such as:
- Talk on the phone or video chat: Sometimes just hearing your partner’s voice or seeing their face can make a big difference.
- Watch a movie or TV show together: Use a service like Netflix Party or two screens to watch a movie or TV show at the same time and then discuss it afterwards.
- Play games online: Games can be a fun way to connect and spending time playing together can help reduce stress.
- Take walks together: If you’re both able, go for a walk together while you talk on the phone or video chat.
Doing things together can help you feel closer to each other and provide some much-needed distraction from the challenges of life with depression.
8. Send your partner positive messages and reminders that you love them; especially if they don't seem to be having a good day.
Many people with depression struggle with negative thought patterns that convince them they are not worthy of love and happiness.
One way you can help your partner is by sending them positive messages and reminders that you love them, especially on the days when they are struggling.
You could send a text or leave a voicemail saying something like:
- “I’m thinking of you and I hope you have a good day. I love you.”
- “I know you’re struggling right now, but I want you to know that I’m here for you and I love you.”
- “I’m so proud of you for how hard you’re fighting. I know it’s not easy, but you’re doing an amazing job. I love you.”
Hearing positive messages like these can help your partner feel loved and supported, and remind them that they are not alone in their battle with depression.
9. Let your partner know that you are always there for them, no matter what.
Depression can be very isolating and your partner may feel like they are a burden to you, so let them know that you are always there for them, no matter what; this means being there for them when they need to talk, even if it’s in the middle of the night.
Say things like:
- “I’m here for you, no matter what.”
- “I love you and I’ll support you through anything.”
- “You can always come to me, no matter what. I promise I won’t judge you or try to fix you, I just want to be there for you.”
Knowing that they always have someone to turn to can help your partner feel hopeful and that there's a reason worth fighting for.
10. Seek professional help if you are struggling to cope with your partner’s depression.
Depression can be very challenging to deal with, even for the most supportive and well-meaning partners. It’s important to take care of yourself too, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed and are struggling to cope with your partner’s depression, seek professional help.
Getting professional help can give you the tools you need to deal with your partner’s depression in a healthy and supportive way; you may also benefit from support groups or a helpline for partners of people with depression.
While it can be challenging living apart from a loved one who is dealing with depression, there are many ways that you can support them through this difficult time.
Try implementing the tips we’ve shared and remain supportive throughout the process – your partner will appreciate it more than you know.
With that being said, although the tips we’ve shared here can be helpful, keep in mind that they are not replacements for professional help.
If your partner is struggling to cope with depression, please reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Depression is a serious but treatable mental illness that should not be ignored. With the right support, people with depression can and do get better.