In Sickness and Health: Dating with Depression
The beginning of a new relationship can be full of excitement, possibility, and promise. However, when you are depressed, dating can bring new complications and anxieties–when do you tell him? How will she react? How will he deal with my depressive symptoms? While depression can present special challenges to new relationships, it does not have to prevent you from connecting and experiencing the joys of falling in love.
When You Are Ready
Your mental health status is not a warning label you are obligated to display before anyone approaches you. Disclosure of your mental health disorder should come only when you feel comfortable sharing it, at your own pace, and in the way that makes sense for you. Depression may be an important part of your experience, but it does not define you, and the role it plays in the process of an evolving romantic relationship is for you to decide. Of course, sometimes depressive symptoms arrive uninvited and can affect your ability to function in your day-to-day life, including your ability to maintain a healthy, loving relationship. In these cases, it may be prudent to advise your partner of what is going on with you, so they have a clear picture of your situation and what is causing your behavior–as well as giving them the opportunity to support you. As mainstream awareness of mental health disorders increases, people may already be more educated and receptive than you expect.
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Help Your Partner Help You
It is important to let your partner know that they are not responsible for your depression. Mental health disorders are medical conditions, and your feelings aren’t the result of your partner’s actions. However, social connections can be vital to your ability to process your emotions, and giving your partner the tools to provide meaningful support can help you establish healthy relationship habits. A dating relationship can help get you out of the house, minimize social isolation, and give you a safe space to express your feelings. Let your partner know when they should push you through depressive symptoms and encourage you to participate in activities that are difficult for you. Having a cheerleader in your corner can ease reintegration with the world around you and give you an important ally in your daily struggles. At the same time, make sure they know when you are overwhelmed, need time alone, or your depressive episode is too severe to engage in your normal activities. Your boundaries must always be respected.
Dealing with Sexual Symptoms of Depression
Depression and medication can both lower your sex drive and inhibit your ability to enjoy sex. Talk to your doctor about treatment options that will allow you to experience a fulfilling sex life, including medications that are less likely to interfere with your libido. At the same time, an open conversation with your partner can help you find ways of enjoying each other by working around any sexual limitation and providing reassurance that these issues are not the result of shortcomings in your relationship. You can explore alternative ways of showing affection and experiencing intimacy that help you connect with your partner as you work to regain emotional stability and sexual function.
Caring for your own health is the most important thing you can do for your own sense of well-being and for maximizing your chances of having meaningful, lasting interpersonal relationships. Finding a treatment program that will give you the insight and skills to heal from depression is crucial to allowing you to move forward towards a fulfilling life. At Bridges to Recovery, we offer compassionate, comprehensive treatment tailored to your needs to help you find relief from psychological distress and guide you to a sense of peace. We also offer couples’ therapy, to help you and your partner discuss your depression in a safe, caring environment. Uncovering your authentic self through individual and holistic therapies, freeing yourself from depression, gives you the solid emotional base you need to fully enjoy the experience of giving and receiving love.
Contact us to learn more about the treatment options available at Bridges to Recovery and how we can help you overcome depression.