Understanding the role of depression and anxiety in a relationship can make a world of difference. When someone you love suffers from depression or anxiety, it can feel overwhelming. Communication becomes difficult and eventually frustration sets in. Unfortunately, both conditions combined can often lead to failed relationships.
Even more unfortunate is that the sufferer has a hard time controlling the way he or she feels. Outbursts of emotion, panic, fear, anger, and sadness cannot be helped. Fortunately, you can learn how depression and anxiety can affect your relationship and what to do about it. You can also learn how to convince the person you love to get help.
So what exactly is the role of depression and anxiety in a relationship? What impact can it have?
To make this easier to understand, imagine that you are having a bad day. Rather than focusing on the sole source of your bad day, everything in your life starts to look negative and bleak. When a person who suffers from depression and anxiety has a bad day, they place a negative outlook on everything – their job, their life, and their relationships with others.
All-in-all, depression and anxiety can turn a molehill into a mountain. If the problem continues untreated, a breakdown in communication occurs. The person may experiences outbursts of panic, anger, or sadness. They may throw out accusatory statements that hurt or seemingly push you away.
Bear in mind that these expressions of emotion are exaggerated because your loved one does not know how to express his or her feelings properly. Although it may seem as though you are being shoved out, what the person really needs is love and support from people who care.
Things You Should Do and Not Do to Help
The first step you can take toward helping someone is understanding the role of depression and anxiety in a relationship. The more understanding you have of the two illnesses, the better. Other things you can do to help include:
- Finding a time and place that is appropriate for you both to discuss the issue
- Using open ended questions that must be answered with detail rather than a simple yes or no
- Providing comfort and understanding so the person feels less alone
- Offering support if the person shows interest in seeking help
- Offering assistance in finding out more information about their illnesses
- Encouraging the person to seek help
- Taking the time to talk about feelings or experiences
- Mentioning that you have noticed a change in the person’s behavior
There are also a few things you should not do, which includes the following:
- Pressuring the person to talk when they do not feel comfortable doing so
- Making accusations or seeming as though you are angry or frustrated
- Telling the person to relax, calm down, or that their issues are not a big deal
- Avoiding the person when they are in one of their moods
- Assuming that there is nothing wrong with the person and that they are overreacting
- Assuming that the person will eventually get better without help
As long as you approach the situation with a sense of understanding and educate yourself as to the role of depression and anxiety in a relationship, you can get through it. Although depression and anxiety has a tendency to destroy relationships, you can avoid that destruction.
Encourage the Person to Get Help
If the person you love does not seem receptive to the idea of getting help, you might feel like giving up. However, not all hope is lost. There are ways you can encourage your loved one to seek help. For instance, you can:
- Sit down and and have an open, honest conversation about your concerns and your desire to see our loved one get help
- Talk one-on-one rather than making it a family gathering, so the person does not feel overwhelmed or attacked
- Understand that the person will likely get defensive, but make sure you do not upset or defensive in return
- Use statements that reflect empathy and understanding so your loved one is more receptive to the idea of seeking help
- Research and facilitate the process of seeking help by gathering information and finding out about local therapists and support groups
- Offer to help pay or find out about financial assistance programs if the person expresses concerns about having to pay for the mental health appointment
If you follow the advice above, you will find that it is much easier to convince the person you love to seek help.
Keep in mind that you are not alone, either. As someone who deal with a loved one that suffers from depression and anxiety, you should also consider talking to a therapist. A therapist can assist both you and your loved one in understanding the role of depression and anxiety in a relationship. A therapist can also help you figure out how to handle the situation and work through it together.
Monica Ramunda is a solution-focused therapist with an office located in Louisville, Colorado for in-office visits. With a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and more than 16 years experience in therapy and counseling, Monica works as both a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and Registered Play Therapist (RPT) with adults and children respectively. Much of Monica’s success is based on her eclectic orientation and drawing on a wide range of different approaches and techniques all while remaining strongly grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT).