You may be aware of the effects of your depression on yourself and your daily life, but have you considered that treating your depression helps your relationship? The good news is that when you get help, so does your relationship!
5 ways treating your depression helps your relationship
- Renewed interest in activities you enjoyed together
- Forward momentum: making plans together, socially and in toward your couple goals
- Increased energy
- Enthusiasm in sex
Renewed interest in activities you enjoyed together
Regaining your interest in doing activities with your partner that you’ve previously enjoyed together gives your relationship new life. Instead of the default “NO” of depression, you’re back to your life and having fun together. Whatever those activities are, you’re looking forward to them and fully participating in them together.
When you’re depressed, your lack of interest in activities you enjoyed together means that your partner misses your companionship in these activities, even if you encourage him or her to pursue these independently of you. This can feel like a big loss for your partner, whether it’s gardening together, exploring new neighborhoods, or attending or participating in sports events. Your partner may feel that he or she has to forego these activities or do them without you and live a more separate life. Regaining your interest in shared activities is a boost to your relationship.
One of the hallmarks of depression is the feeling that you’ve always been depressed and will continue to be depressed. So there’s no looking forward and planning. You may not feel like making plans with friends, may not want to plan a vacation, may not want to work together on plans toward your common goals in life. All of these are a loss for your partner, unless he or she decides to plan and do without you, but that may cost your relationship in closeness and a future.
With effective treatment, you’re back to planning together, whether it’s a fun vacation, a meaningful upcoming holiday, a double date, or planning together to improve your living situation or talking about couple and/or family goals. That enjoyment of your life in the present and planning for more satisfying events and goals in the future are signs of an engaged life, which you and your partner can enjoy together.
When your depression is being effectively treated, you will feel more energetic and able to accomplish much more individually and in your relationship. The low energy that characterizes depression makes it hard to get out of bed in the morning and accomplish the basic tasks of daily life. Effective depression treatment means that you have enough energy to greet the day and do what is needed throughout your waking hours to make a satisfying and full life. And that means that your partner no longer has to take over your household tasks or deal with the fallout of your lack of energy to take on financial responsibilities or interact with family and friends. Your partner feels like he or she actually has a partner again!
As you begin to feel better, with increased energy and engagement in your life, you may find yourself feeling less of the negativity that is part of depressive experience. Through good treatment you will learn to think about things in a more positive light. When you’re depressed it can be hard for you to find the bright spots in your day and in your life, and that’s a drain for your partner. He or she may feel the need to try to be your cheerleader about life, which is exhausting and ineffective! Understanding unproductive mental habits you have formed and learning to think properly will lead to a sense of optimism that you may have never experienced. What a wonderful development for you as an individual, and what a treat for your partner!
Enthusiasm in sex
Regaining your “mojo” is a wonderful benefit of good depression treatment, and you and your partner will both benefit from your enthusiasm. The lack of interest in sex that is often part of depression is hard on your partner, because his or her sexual needs are unfulfilled. If your partner’s self-esteem is shaky, it may further plummet, as your partner may misinterpret your lack of interest in sex as an indication of his or her unattractiveness and undesirability. Your partner may have enormous empathy for your struggle, and want to connect with you sexually to try to recapture a liveliness that was in your relationship before depression took over, or just because sex is a wonderfully enjoyable part of life and can be a comfort during a rough patch in a relationship.
The return of your interest in sex often means that you are more engaged in other parts of your life, feeling more optimistic, having more energy, returning to other activities, and having more forward momentum. That’s all good for you, and for your relationship!
Diane Spear, LCSW-R, owns a private practice in the Union Square/East Village area of Manhattan (New York City). She specializes in depression, couples, anxiety, and parenting treatment, and has been helping people find the joy in everyday life since 1995. She is accepting new patients. To learn more about Diane, click here.