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Dating Someone Who Is Depressed

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My girlfriend and I have been together for a year now. I’ve struggled with mild depression before but she struggles with ongoing symptoms of chronic depression as well as mild OCD symptoms and anxiety. I found out about her struggles early on in the relationship and I found out that she had no emotional/nurturing relationship with her mom and had no one to reach out to at home about her issues. She turned to cutting while she was in high school and discovered other harming techniques at a young age. Being with me seemed to be helping her deal wife her home life and other stresses in life. But as we got closer to our year anniversary, she was getting more and more stressed out and her depression started getting worse. We started arguing often, many times over small, insignificant things and usually a misunderstanding, misinterpretation of things said etc. I didn’t realize that it could possibly be her depression but when I did, I put way too much attention on that, instead of focusing on just helping her cope. A few days after our one year, she tried to end things. She was having really bad thoughts and told me that she feels empty. She said she’s falling out of love with me but later said that she was only focusing on the bad and forgot about the good things in the moment. She says her mind has all of these negative and bad thoughts and half of her wants to be with me but the other half wants to give up on everything. She talked about taking a break as well. I love her and I know that she loves me but I feel like she is trying to push me away so that she won’t hurt me the way she is convinced she is. I think that she wants to be alone so no one else gets hurt by her behavior and there will be much less to fight for. I don’t want her to give up but I also don’t want to just be there as added pressure and stress. Although, she and I have decided to stick together through this rough time, I feel sad and scared. How can I help her without being too strong and making things worse? How can I deal with her emptiness and emotional distance? Help!!!

Dating Someone Who Is Depressed

Answered by on -

A.

If your girlfriend hasn’t responded to your love then I think it is time to change your direction and offer to help her find professional help. I would certainly encourage her to go, and you can offer to go with her for support. But this isn’t something you are going to be able to handle on your own — or cope well with if you keep trying to fix her emotional distance. The chronic nature of her depression and the fact that she feels empty in spite of your efforts is very telling. This is hers to deal with. Your job is to support her efforts but not being the the one to try and make her correction.
Wishing you patience and peace,

Dr. Dan

Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Dating Someone Who Is Depressed

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Dating Someone Who Is Depressed. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 24, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/07/18/dating-someone-who-is-depressed/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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