How does depression affect relationships?

Someone once said to me that depression is completely different to feeling sad. Depression is something that you, without previous experience, cannot imagine. A depressed mood leaves you feeling sad, empty, hopeless, and often tearful. In addition to this overwhelming feeling, someone with depression has a lack of interest in and does not get pleasure from all or almost all activities, most of the day, every or nearly every day.


Depression can also affect weight, appetite, sleep, movement, energy, concentration, and self-esteem. Linked to depression is suicidal ideation. If you have experienced or currently struggle with depression, please reach out to someone for support. Your GP may be able to offer you medication and may also refer you to a therapist. Unfortunately, the waiting list for the NHS therapeutic services can be long, so you might prefer to find someone privately. Many charities offer support if your financial situation restricts you.

How depression affects relationships

Being in a relationship with someone who has depression and anxiety can make life a roller coaster; the desperation to help in conjunction with the frustration that you cannot help. Trying to maintain a relationship when you have depression is sometimes difficult when you constantly feel like ‘the problem’. All your energy disappears on keeping yourself going, there is very little left for anyone else. When you spend time with others, it is a struggle to be present because of your own feelings.

Relationships are rarely a walk in the park, life is regularly a rollercoaster, and everybody has ups and downs. In fact, sometimes depression is the opposite of that – there are no ups, life is an existence rather than an experience. However, when you have a relationship with someone and depression is a third party of the relationship, life requires a lot more patience and acceptance.

I have heard people express sadness as they feel pulled down by a loved one with depression, yet their heart yearns for them when they are apart. Most people with depression are amazing humans and this makes the depressive episodes hard and frustrating for all involved.

It is difficult to see someone you love in pain, with little power to fix it.

How to support a partner with depression

There are certainly several things that can help someone with depression; exercise, therapy, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, nourishing nutrition – the list goes on. Your role, however, is to support not fix – as difficult as that is.

When you live alongside someone with depression, it is important to stay informed. Make yourself an expert on depression. If your partner is on medication, learn what the medication does and how it helps. It is also relevant to learn the possible side effects of the medication. If your partner expresses concern to you about something, you will have the knowledge to help them consider whether it is the medication and, if so, support them in discussions with their doctor.

Your partner might not want you to continually make suggestions to fix them, however, if they express a desire to try something new – such as an exercise class or therapy – ask if they want your help to find it. Depression hinders motivation and zaps energy. Your partner may want to try something but find the search too exhausting.

Help your partner get outside and immersed in the natural world. A daily walk can do wonders for the soul, it gives you time to connect with each other and connect your own mind and body. You might like to give each other time to talk while the other listens and walk for part of the time in silence so you can take in the sounds of nature.

Finally, two very important things – have crisis numbers handy so, if your partner ever feels suicidal, you both know who to call. It is also helpful to have the phone number of the Samaritans there for times when suicide is not a concern but either of you need someone to talk to.

And take care of yourself, ensure you have a self-care routine to avoid burnout or your own depression. The same list as above, regular yoga, meditation, mindfulness, exercise, and nourishing nutrition will help you live happily alongside while you support your partner with depression. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Farnham GU9 & GU10
Written by Juliet Hollingsworth, MSc
Farnham GU9 & GU10

Juliet is a trauma-informed therapist. Her passion is helping people reach their potential through a combination of hypnotherapy, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology. Juliet works online and face to face with clients across the world. (DHP Clinical Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy. MSc Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal psychology.)

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