You’re not just being a Debbie Downer or Negative Nancy, you’re clinically depressed. And as much as it affects you personally, depression can have a huge impact on your relationships too.
Four in 10 Americans suffering from depression say it presents a major challenge in their relationships, a Reader’s Digest survey found. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep depression from hurting your relationships.
Set Boundaries Early
Set boundaries to keep relationships from moving into dangerous areas. Doing so will also help you build self-confidence. For example, say you have a little crush on one of your coworkers. It’s easy for that coworker to go from friend to romance without realizing it. Workplace relationships that become too intimate can damage martial relationships. Among couples who are experiencing issues with infidelity, 50 percent of women and 62 percent of men are intimately involved with someone at work, says psychologist and author Shirley Glass.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
As humans, we are constantly performing tasks to upkeep our physical hygiene. Each day you wash your face, brush your teeth and put on clean clothes, for example. Why wouldn’t you put the same energy and daily maintenance into your emotional hygiene? Guy Winch, psychologist, author and Ted Talk speaker talks about the idea of emotional first aid. Do things that are good for your mental health like eating healthy, exercising, getting outside and practicing mindfulness.
In addition, get assistance from a professional who can help develop a treatment plan for depression. Professional assistance for depression helps eight out of 10 people who seek treatment, according to the New York Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. If your schedule makes it hard to find appointment times, consider teletherapy via ThriveTalk, which allows you to speak to a live therapist over the phone or on a webcam from a location of your choice on your own time.
Cultivate Your Relationships
Building healthy relationships requires a time investment, which can be challenging when you’re a busy bee all day, every day.
This maintenance can be particularly challenging for couples with kids. In fact, only 33 percent of parents feel they spend enough time with their kids, a Pew Research Center poll found. Parents with children also have trouble finding time for each other. Create a time budget to ensure you’re getting enough quality time with family members and your spouse.
Quality time isn’t about where you’re going or what you’re doing; it’s about who you’re with. Though spending time with your kids is very important, don’t neglect your relationship with your partner. Those suffering from depression tend to push those closest to them away. Be conscientious of this and proactive. Plan date night. Hire a babysitter for a few hours. Just go for a walk around the block together. Even small slivers of time together are important.
Be Willing to Trust
Trust is an essential component of any healthy relationship, whether at home, with friends or at work. But trusting others can be hard, especially after you’ve been hurt or betrayed. One in 20 men and one in five women don’t trust their spouses, a OnePoll survey found.
Getting past mistrust is essential for good relationships. Forgive people who have hurt you, forgive yourself for allowing them to hurt you, and be honest and vulnerable about your feelings. Start by trusting in small things and work toward the big ones.
Give & Receive Constructive Feedback
In a healthy relationship, both people can give and receive constructive criticism without causing friction. Overreacting to criticism can cause minor issues to escalate into arguments, and is a sign of a lack of self-confidence.
Depression can amplify this escalation, making arguments overwhelming and defeating the participants.
Learn to take criticism gracefully by listening before you react and taking it as an opportunity to improve instead of making excuses or shifting blame. Be patient if your spouse is depressed — it’s often hard to self-identify with this behavior.
Also, learn to give criticism effectively. Practice softening the edge of criticism by making constructive suggestions instead of personal accusations.
If you care about each other, remember you each have good intentions.
Empathy can help you appreciate the intent behind people’s behavior instead of reacting defensively, and it can help you build positive rapport with others as well. Learn to observe behavior closely, listen carefully and imagine yourself in the other person’s place so you can better understand their behavior. The next time someone upsets you, instead of taking it personally, see if you can figure out what was going through their mind that led to their behavior.
Treat Others as You’d Like to Be Treated
The Golden Rule remains the best guideline for building healthy relationships. In all your relationships, think about what is in the other person’s best interests before taking action. The Golden Rule is also in your own best interests because it can help distract you from feelings of depression, as well as help you build better relationships that make you feel more positive.
Keep Your Commitments
A big part of treating others the way you’d like to be treated is keeping commitments. If you have a reputation for being an unreliable flake, people won’t trust you. If you say you’re going to meet a friend for drinks after work, be there. If you plan a ski trip, don’t back out two days before. If you said you’ll be at your best friend’s birthday party, don’t bail. Before making a commitment, take time to consider if you can actually do what you’re about to promise. Quality relationships are built on one strong pillar: showing up when you say you will.
The dynamics of depression are difficult to field. These proactive steps can keep depression from sabotaging your relationships. If you need additional help, get in touch with a counselor to develop a treatment plan for depression. You can schedule a teletherapy appointment today through ThriveTalk.