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How Does Depression Affect Relationships?

Updated: Jun 8


Depression can be a lonely place. If you're depressed, it can sometimes feel like no one understands the way you're feeling or what you're going through. You might feel like everyone else is too busy with their own lives and relationships to notice or care about yours. But that's not true! Depression affects relationships in all sorts of ways and it's important for partners, friends, family members and loved ones to know how depression impacts them so they can support each other better during this difficult time.

You see your friends less.

You might find yourself spending more and more time alone, or you may start to avoid having friends over to your house. You might feel like a burden on your friends and family when you're in a bad mood, and it's hard for them not to notice that things are off with you.

Sometimes depression makes it hard for people to connect with their significant others or other loved ones. They may feel like they can't relate because their partner doesn't get what depression feels like, which can lead to resentment and anger in the relationship.

You reduce how much information you give your friends.

Depression can make you feel like a burden to others. You may be afraid that friends, family members and loved ones are becoming tired of dealing with your problems or feeling like they have to help you all the time. This can cause you to limit how much information you give people about what's going on in your life – both good and bad.

It's important that when someone cares about us, we let them know what's going on in our lives so they can understand why we're acting differently or making certain decisions. If we hide things from those who care about us then we aren't really letting them get close enough for them to support us when needed most!

You lose interest in things you used to enjoy.

If you're struggling with depression, it's common to lose interest in the things that used to bring you joy. This is known as anhedonia, which refers to a lack of pleasure or inability to experience joy. Common examples include:

  • You stop going out with friends and family as often as you used to

  • You stop going on dates or attending social events

  • You spend less time at work and more time sleeping (or oversleeping)

You say "I'm fine" a lot.

When you're depressed and in a relationship, you may find yourself saying "I'm fine" a lot. But the truth is that you aren't fine. You just don't want to be a burden or worry your partner.

While it's true that we can't help others when we're drowning in our own problems, ignoring our mental health isn't the way to go about it—especially because being in an intimate relationship with someone means sharing parts of yourself and learning how to listen to each other's needs.

People don't know whether they should ask if you're OK or not.

Some people worry that if they mention their mental health to you, it will make you feel worse. They may also be uncertain about whether or not to ask if you're OK.

In our society, we have a tendency to focus on being strong and independent (especially when it comes to mental illness). We tend to think that the "strong" person is the one who can put up a brave face and pretend everything is fine when they're battling depression or another type of mental illness. But this isn't necessarily true! The truth is that sometimes, pretending everything's fine just makes life harder: it means you won't seek help—and more importantly, it means those around you won't know how best they can support you.

You don't have to be OK all the time—and neither do your loved ones! If someone tells us they're feeling depressed, we should encourage them not only because we want them to get better but also because we care about them; having someone tell us "yesterday was bad for me" helps us understand what might help them feel better tomorrow. It doesn't make either person weak; it makes both persons stronger by opening up communication lines between them and giving them an opportunity for mutual understanding and support from each other at their most vulnerable moments in life.

Maintain honest communication with your loved ones about how you're feeling and what is on your mind.

Your loved ones want to be helpful and supportive, but they don't know how if you don't tell them. If you're feeling depressed, it can be difficult to bring up the topic with your loved ones—after all, depression isn't something that's often discussed openly. But being honest about your feelings will help build trust and communication in your relationship. It's important to remember that sharing what is on your mind can take time; there's no rush to get through each conversation in one sitting.

Keep the following tips in mind when talking with someone about depression:

  • Stay focused on the present moment (rather than worrying about the future).

  • Start by describing how things are currently affecting you rather than focusing on how things were before or might be after an event occurs (or doesn't occur). For example: "I've been struggling lately because of x." vs., "I'm worried I won't ever feel better again."

Be kind to yourself.

Taking care of yourself is important, whether you’re depressed or not. But when you’re feeling down, it can be especially difficult to remember to do things that make you feel good. To keep your mental health in check:

  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself for things that go wrong or for how you think about yourself.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others—even if they seem like they have it all together! Everyone has their own unique struggles and strengths.

  • Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends and family members when needed—and don't underestimate the power of an online community either (like this one).


If you're feeling depressed and it's starting to affect your relationships, the best thing to do is talk about it. The more honest communication you have with friends, family members and partners about how you're feeling and what's on your mind, the better off both of you will be. It can also help if they offer support by listening or even just being available when needed. If someone won't listen or help because they don't understand what depression is like, then their support isn't useful anyway so don't worry about it! Just surround yourself with people who care enough to listen when needed while allowing space for healing.


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