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Everyone can feel fed-up, sad or miserable, however, when these feelings persist and seem to be interfering with daily life and your couple relationship, it is worth considering whether you need some addtional support.

Whilst it is helpful to acknowledge that emotional difficulties are an understandable and normal reaction to past or present events it can also be useful to give yourself or your partner permsission to consider whether you or they might need addtional support and help.

Depression can be triggered by life events such as bereavement or a significant loss, difficult childhood experiences, feeling overwhelmed by challenging life experiences, or ongoing relationship difficulties. Illness or a long term physical condition can also lead to depression.

Depression can be mild, moderate or severe and is usually experienced as a combination of the following:-

  •  Low mood most of the day, nearly every day  
  •  Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities   
  •  Significant weight loss or gain  
  •  Sleeping too much, or not being able to sleep nearly every day  
  •  Fatigue or low energy nearly every day  
  •  Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt  
  •  Loss of concentration or indecisiveness  
  •  Lack of libido 
  •  Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

Individual or couple counselling, medication, or a combination of both can help.

How can I help my partner if they seem to be depressed?

If you or your partner seem to have been experiencing some of the above for a while it can cause tensions and frustration between the two of you.

It may be that dilemmas in your relationship are infact contributing to a partner experiencing depression, but neither of you know how to tackle those dilemmas so you find yourself focussing on depression rather than your relationship dillemas .

The partner who may be depressed may feel even more low and helpless as they struggle with finding any motivation or energy for attempting suggestions made by their partner or others to alleviate their low mood and difficult feelings.

Exercise, trying not to be self-critical, eating well, doing activities you enjoy, and spending a little time with people you feel close to can all help with depression. However if a person is struggling with difficult feelings alongside loss of motivation and energy, persistently being given advice by their partner or others can lead to them feeling more hopeless as they currently just don't have the emotional or physical capacity to motivate themselves without the support and help of counselling or medication first. 

If you find yourself in this situation it can be helpful to be accepting of your partner and what they may be struggling with. Try to be non judgemental and non blaming, and ask them how they would like you to support them. 

Suggesting that they deserve support from their GP or counselling is also helpful.

How couples counselling can help with depression

The UK National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) recommends couple counselling for couples where one partner is experiencing depression.

Couples counselling can help to:-

  •  Identify what may contributing to one partner feeling depressed
  •  Allow both partners to explore and express what they are finding most challenging about their situation
  •  Enable both partners to focus on their relationship rather than depression
  •  Help both partners to learn about how they can support each other
  •  Navigate relationship problems and dilemmas
  •  Develop the resources and abilities of both partners for effective communication