As a mental health counselor and someone who has battled depression for most of her life, I’m no stranger to the toll it can take on relationships.
While it differs from person to person, at its core, the illness causes people to feel lonely, inadequate, and misunderstood—even isolated. Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to inflict our pain on the people we love. Other times, it’s because we’ve been hurt by (even well-meaning) others and don’t want to risk feeling even worse than we already do.
When someone with depression withdraws from loved ones without communicating why, it leaves a lot of room for misinterpretation. A partner may not understand why their S.O. is distant, distracted, or even angry. They may wonder what they did to offend the other person, or they may be frustrated that their partner is suddenly detached from them.
In addition to intense feelings of shame, sadness, and worthlessness, depression can manifest itself physically—including changes in sex drive, sleep; and appetite; energy loss; and even physical pain, such as headaches, stomach pains, and back or neck pain. This leads to more confusion for a partner, who may wonder why their loved one is often sick or generally disinterested in events and activities (including sex).
Expressing my feelings when I’m depressed has always been a challenge, especially in relationships. I’m afraid of coming across as whiny, ungrateful, or melodramatic. I have been blame…