Ways to Help Depressed Boyfriend

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Hi, I’ve been with my boyfriend for a few months now and he has always had a problem with depression but at first I did think it was just his life as he almost died last year and his dad is ill and his mom is struggling in her life too, but as he’s spoken to me more I’ve come to realize that it’s deeper than his life and his thoughts are seriously negative and I struggle to help him. Whenever we see each other he’s always happy but I’m starting to wonder if he’s just hiding his true feelings.

I know for a fact I want to stay with him, and I definitely want to help him…I just don’t know how. He won’t go to the doctors, he barely talks to me and when he does he’s very secretive in what he will tell me because “he doesn’t want to worry me” and he certainly won’t talk to anyone else about this,

I just want to be the best girlfriend I can be and help him though this. What are the things, if anything, I can do for him, because he’s losing hope of ever feeling like himself again!
Thank you for reading this.

A: I’m sure this is very worrying. It’s painful to watch someone we love be in pain. Your boyfriend has been through a lot and it sounds like it’s not over yet with both parents struggling. I’m sorry he won’t take advantage of good help that is available. There is no shame in talking to a therapist. However you may care for him, you don’t have the training or experience to give him the help he may need to cope.

On the other hand, you do have something no therapist has: You care about him personally and you can have good times with him. I suggest you not push him to talk about things he doesn’t want to share. Instead, focus on positive things. Get together with friends. Do things he likes to do. Do your best to sustain the happy times. Happiness and positive experiences are the best antidote to sadness and negativity.

And, please, I hope you don’t let yourself get caught up in the drama of negativity. Negative drama only feeds negativity. Don’t beg him to share his secrets. Don’t constantly tell him how worried you are. Don’t try to “save” him. He doesn’t need a savior. He needs a friend. When he’s blue, suggest you go do something active, watch a comedy movie, or go hang out with friends doing something fun.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 May 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Ways to Help Depressed Boyfriend. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/05/02/ways-to-help-depressed-boyfriend/