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How can you tell if your partner is depressed?

Article  by Caroline Carr

If your partner is depressed, there might be a dramatic shift in their behaviour, especially if the depression comes on suddenly. But so often, depression can creep up – over years in many cases, and quite often, you may have absolutely no idea that your partner is depressed.

If you and your partner have been together for some time, you may well overlook any changes in mood or behaviour, because you’ll have got used to each other. So you probably go along with and normalise these, or make excuses for them. You might not even notice any changes to start with, because often these can be very subtle.

If you are in a relatively new relationship, you might think that any mood changes or unexpected behaviour is just a part of your partner’s personality. And, it’s true – love can be blind. You might be all too ready to overlook the things that disturb you from time to time, as you bask in the rosy glow of new love.

Usually though, whatever stage you are at in your relationship, regardless of age and sex, there’ll come a point when you’ll worry. Things that your partner says or does will alarm you (even slightly), and your instinct will tell you that something doesn’t seem quite right. This is the time to really take notice –  so listen to your inner self.  It could well be that your partner is depressed.

Signs which indicate your partner could be depressed

  • At first there might be a few little things that concern you. He or she may seem unusually gloomy or morose. They may ‘niggle’ about things that seem unimportant, or cut down on doing things that they usually enjoy. Perhaps friends seem to matter less, and they might avoid seeing them.
  • You could find that your partner becomes overwhelmed by tasks and so avoids doing them. Even simple things like putting the dirty dishes in the sink, can to someone who is depressed, seem like a vast, vague ‘problem’.
  •  They might blame others for everything, or become very cynical. They may become angry and hostile. On the other hand, they may not have the energy to even speak, let alone be angry.
  •  Perhaps they drink more alcohol than usual, or eat more (or significantly less) than they used to –  and appear to have lose interest their own well being.
  • They might throw themselves into an activity (such as working extremely long hours) to avoid dealing with their negative feelings.

As the depression grows, your partner may sense that they are losing their identity, as their life seems to spiral out of control. Unexpected or irrational behaviour is a desperate attempt to get some control back. Your partner may not show it, or even know it, but they will be scared. He or she is likely to be feeling empty, helpless and hopeless as their outlook and horizons shrink inwards. They may be constantly negative and sad, or feel there is little point in anything. On top of everything, your partner is probably consumed with guilt about the impact of their depression on you.

Your partner cannot just snap out of depression. Every aspect of his or her life is underpinned by the way that they think and feel. This is why it’s so important to know something about depression, so that if you are concerned about anything, you have a point of reference.

You can download a free e-Book on my website which will give you more information and help you to stay strong if your partner is depressed: http://www.mypartnerisdepressed.com/blog/news-37

Photo credit: Salvatore Vuono




Founder of LET THE SUNSHINE IN - a unique recourse for those who want to connect with their bright side, especially when their partner is depressed, Caroline has been billed as The UK’s Leading Expert for Partners Living with Depression. She is a life and laughter coach, a hypnotherapist and the author of several self-help books, including ‘Living with depression’ and ‘How not to worry.’ Caroline has been interviewed on television and radio, is frequently quoted in the national press, and has written for a range of magazines and specialist health publications.

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  1. Kay

    February 2, 2012

    For me it was listening to my husband tossing and turning, unable to sleep. The more he tired the worse it got. In fact neither of us could sleep.
    The day he said he wanted to drive his car into a wall, was the day I took him to the doctors.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      February 2, 2012

      Kay, how awful for both of you. Was it easy to get the help you needed? I hope he’s better now. In chatting to Caroline we thought it was an important topic to share on the site as many people may not know how to recognise the signs or what steps to take first.

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