How Can I Help my Boyfriend with Depression?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. My boyfriend is 20 years old. He has slipped into major depression. About 3 years ago we broke up and then he was in a car crash and that was his first time he had depression. He now feels that he doesnt deserve me that I need to be with someone else and that he doesnt need to be happy. That he is worthless and he is a nobody. Just back in January he was the happiest person now he is just so down on himself, he hates hisself he can’t sleep, he rarely eats, and he cries a lot. He wants to be with me for the rest of our lives but he is afraid that his depression is going to tear us apart. His emotions are mixed up, that he isnt sure about anything at all, and he is also afraid that he is going to bring me down with hime if I stay with him, but my decision is to stay with him and help him through this.

I have been helping him through, but nothing I say or do seems to be helping. I love him with all my heart and I really don’t know what else I can do. I have done more research about depression, I have asked people who have suffered through it before and I pray everyday and night for him to get better. His depression gets worse and worse by the day. Please help me.

A. This situation is difficult because there is little that you can do to help him overcome his depression. You can and should encourage him to seek help; this in one way in which you can be helpful. But ultimately, he is going to have to make the decision that he wants to get better and then he is going to have to get help for this problem. Because of this, your power may be limited.

I commend you on sticking by him to help him through this difficult time but I am wondering exactly why you are doing this. Are you doing this out of guilt, because you feel you cannot break it off with him while he is so depressed? Or are you doing this because you truly want to be his girlfriend? The reason why you have decided to stay with him is of profound importance.

If you are staying with him out of guilt, this is unhealthy and it would be wrong, for not only you but for him as well. It is not fair to stay with someone because you feel pity for them. It is the wrong reason to stay with someone. You should only continue a relationship with someone you want to be with.

In addition, if you are staying with him out of guilt, you may also start to feel resentful toward him. As you mentioned, you are already worried that his depression will bring you down, and chances are it will have an effect on you. It may be easier to stay with him because you feel bad for him and you do not want to further add to his already sad situation but recognize that it would be very unhealthy for you to do this.

If you are staying with him because you truly want to be his girlfriend, then there are other issues to consider. One is that he is, at this point in time, unable to have a healthy relationship because of his severe depression. You should suggest and insist that he get help. He needs counseling.

If he is unwilling to seek help then you do have to reconsider your relationship with him. Why? Because it is extremely difficult to continue a relationship with someone who is so unwilling to get help; in fact it’s almost impossible.

It may also be helpful for you to seek therapy during this difficult time. A therapist can help give you guidance and advice, much more than I can offer you through a short letter. Take care.

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). How Can I Help my Boyfriend with Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/03/16/how-can-i-help-my-boyfriend-with-depression/