Handling Depression as a Factor in Dating

Due to the effects depression can have on your mind, including withdrawing into yourself, engaging in a romantic relationship can feel challenging, if not impossible, at times. But this doesn’t mean that everyone struggling with depression is going to feel burdened by a romantic relationship.

Individuals who learn to live alongside depression will be able to also learn the best ways to cope with depression and the challenges it presents while dating. Certain days are prone to be more difficult than others. 

With the right coping skills, open communication with your partner and grace towards yourself, you’ll be able to not just handle, but really find fulfillment in your relationship, and in your life.

What is depression?

According to the National Institute on Mental Health, “Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or working.”

There are a number of different diagnoses for depression, including postpartum depression and seasonal affective disorder, but most present the same challenges, including making even the most routine tasks, like getting out of bed or preparing food, feel incredibly difficult. 

Certain signs of depression are likely to present themselves and may last for an extended period of time, including 

  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • An anxious, empty feeling or sad mood that doesn’t go away
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Physical conditions like stomach pain or headaches that don’t desist with medical treatment
  • Irritability
  • Inconsistent mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
  • Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activity and/or company

While these symptoms are unpleasant, they are treatable with the right diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Can depression affect my dating relationship?

While in the midst of a depressive episode, you might not feel like engaging with your partner in the way they desire, or even at all. When your significant other asks for something, it might irritate you, you might not want to spend time with them or you might find being present to them a chore in and of itself. 

Obviously, this is a negative way in which depression can impact your relationship. Because relationships require effort, energy, positivity and perseverance to maintain, they can suffer when depression is at play. 

The impact of depression on a relationship

Because of the way depression affects your mind, it’s not unlikely for it to affect the way you see the relationship or the way you approach certain facets of the relationship. You may be experiencing any of the following effects, including: 

Anxiety that feels ever present

Depression and anxiety often come hand-in-hand, leading to a constant feeling of doom, negativity or chronic stress. Because of the way in which depression and anxiety work together, even the smallest trials in dating may feel like an extreme threat to your relationship. 

This can lead to increased anxiety and/or seeking reassurance that everything is, in fact, okay. And this can put severe strain on even the healthiest relationship.

An urge to act out 

Often seen as a symptom in men, the desire to withdraw, turn to alcohol or substance abuse or become aggressive can significantly threaten a dating relationship. As men tend to be less likely to recognize the symptoms of depression, treatment is rarely sought out and the relationship suffers. 

A low sex drive 

When energy is low, exhaustion is ever-present and self-image is suffering, the desire to engage in sexual activity with your spouse might not even exist. While there are times in every relationship when one or both partners isn’t “feeling it,” the constant lack of interest could signal depression within the relationship. 

Can I prevent depression from impacting my love life?

Even though the effects of depression can pose challenges to dating, marriage and relationships, there are many steps you can take to prevent depression from undermining your relationship entirely. 

Understand your depression 

Taking the time to first understand your depression and what you can do to manage it on your own (i.e. diet change, more time outside, frequent exercise, more sleep) can then help you better communicate your needs to your partner. The more you understand, the more you can help them understand.

Prioritize open and honest communication

If you know you have a diagnosis, be upfront with your partner as soon as possible. Once they understand where you are coming from and the way in which depression affects you in your daily life, you’re likely to have their support, compassion and understanding. The more you share with them, the more they can help.

Even on those days when you don’t want help, your partner can at least have an understanding of what is going on in your mind without worrying about the stability of the relationship itself. 

Don’t be afraid of seeking help 

There should be no shame felt when seeking professional help. Relationships can be messy on their own, but those coupled with depression can feel even more complicated. 
Many couples can, and do, find peace and strength in both individual and couples counseling as it offers new perspectives and a deeper understanding of both yourself and your significant other. For more information, or to speak with a licensed counselor about depression and counseling, reach out to Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling today at 800-809-2025.