How to Tell if Your Relationship Makes You Depressed
A bad relationship can be a major contributing factor to depression. However, when you’re feeling down in the dumps, it might be hard to tell whether or not your relationship is to blame. If you’re wondering whether your relationship is bringing you down, observe your overall mood for a while. After ascertaining that something is amiss, it’s time to evaluate the health of your relationship and investigate any other factors that might be contributing to depression.
Evaluating Your Overall Happiness
Be aware of your moods.Notice how you feel throughout the day. Do some situations make you feel cheerful and energetic, or do you feel down much of the time?
- Depression can creep up on you slowly, so it’s important to be aware of whether your overall mood has changed over time.
- Know that depression doesn’t necessarily involve feeling sad. Many people with depression feel empty, guilty, or irritable.
Keep a journal.Explore your thoughts and emotions by writing in a journal on a regular basis. Pay attention to any topics or feelings that you find yourself returning to frequently.
- Keeping a journal can help you notice how your moods are related to the events in your life.
Evaluate your energy levels.Ask yourself whether you have a hard time getting up in the morning or if you just can’t seem to focus on work or school anymore. For many people, a constant feeling of physical or mental fatigue is one of the defining characteristics of depression.
- If you feel tired all the time, visit a doctor to rule out any physical causes.
Think about whether your habits have changed.Ask yourself if anything has changed in your personal life or social life lately. Big shake-ups in your everyday routine, your social habits, or your health habits could signal that depression is affecting you.
- For instance, if you’ve stopped exercising and seeing your friends, it may be a red flag for depression.
- Of course, there are many reasons why aspects of your life might change over time. If there’s no obvious reason for the change, though, a mood disorder might be involved.
Notice whether certain situations bring you down more than others.Pay attention if you dread going to a certain place or if your mood takes a nosedive whenever you’re with a certain person. Even if you don’t know why a situation makes you feel negative, your intuition is trying to warn you about it.
- For instance, if you feel fine at work but dislike going back home to your partner, your relationship is probably unhealthy in some way.
Pay attention to your daydreams.The subconscious mind often communicates through daydreams, so if you find yourself thinking about a certain scenario frequently, ask yourself what it means. If you frequently fantasize about escaping to a different life, it’s a sure sign that something in your real life needs to change.
- For instance, if you often think about what life would be like if you weren’t with your partner, you might subconsciously want to break up.
Taking Stock of Your Relationship
Ask yourself if your partner treats you with kindness and respect.If your partner criticizes or belittles you frequently, you might suffer from lowered self-esteem and depression. In a healthy relationship, both partners encourage one another and respect each other’s feelings.
- For instance, if your girlfriend makes fun of your job and never talks to you before making decisions that affect both of you, you’re likely to become depressed in your relationship.
Decide if you are able to be yourself around your partner.Ask yourself whether your partner loves and accepts you the way you are, or if you have to pretend to be someone you’re not around them. A relationship that robs you of your identity can contribute to the development of depression.
Consider how often you and your partner do something new together.Do you and your partner go new places, try new things, and make new memories on a regular basis? A stagnating relationship with no room for growth can make you miserable.
- One sign of a stagnant relationship is that you and your partner no longer have anything to talk about.
Look to the future.Compare your goals for the future with your partner’s and consider whether your plans are compatible. If they’re not, or if you and your partner never get around to talking about the future at all, your relationship might be negatively impacting your happiness.
- For instance, if you want to move in together and your partner doesn’t, you might become depressed about the relationship.
Check your libido.Look back over the last few months and assess whether or not your or your partner's interest in sex has decreased. Loss of libido is a sign of depression and can have a major effect on your relationship. In addition, some depression medications can cause you to lose interest in sex.If something is up with your sex life (loss of interest in sex, loss of pleasure, or taking longer to climax), it may be a sign of depression.
- On top of that, sexual difficulties within the relationship may cause you to feel depressed — if your partner is depressed and not interested in sex, for instance, you may feel as though they no longer desire you. This can put a serious strain on the relationship and your emotional wellbeing.
Talk to your partner about any concerns you have.If you’re worried about an aspect of your relationship, bring it up with your partner. Explain your feelings and ask if they’re willing to help you resolve the issue. An honest discussion may put your mind at ease — or it may make you realize that you’d be happier if you moved on.
- Avoid making accusations or putting your partner on the defensive. Keep in mind that they might not perceive the problem the same way you do, or even realize you’re unhappy.
- Adopt a constructive attitude. Focus on working together to find solutions, instead of just presenting your partner with a rundown of relationship problems.
Recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship.If your relationship is marked by codependency and/or abuse, it can be making you depressed without you being aware. It's important to know the signs of codependency or emotional abuse in relationships and get help.
- Codependency basically describes one-sided relationships in which one partner constantly gives at the expense of self in order to fulfill the other partner. This may be marked by clinginess, emotional manipulation, the absence of boundaries, and poor self-esteem.
- Abuse in relationships doesn't have to involve physical assault. Emotional abuse is an often overlooked problem in relationships. It can be spotted by one partner persistently criticizing or belittling the other, failing to respect privacy or personal boundaries, being jealous of other relationships like close friendships, blocking productive communication and using guilt trips to get one's way.
- If you notice signs of codependency and/or emotional abuse in your relationship, you should see a mental health therapist right away.
- If you are in an abusive relationship and fear for your safety, reach out for help from friends and family. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224, who will help you find support and a safe place to stay if necessary.
Attend couples counseling.If you and your partner are both committed to fixing the problems in your relationship, attend a few counseling sessions together. A counselor will help you work through your issues and learn to communicate with each other more effectively.
Considering Other Causes of Depression
Talk to your partner about their mood.If you have determine that the relationship is not the root of your depression, then start thinking about what other aspects of your life might be contributing. Ask your partner how they’ve been feeling lately. If they haven’t been feeling or acting like their usual self, they might be depressed. Moods can sometimes be "contagious," and if your partner is depressed, you could be picking it up from them — even if they try to hide it or don’t realize they have it.
- If your partner is depressed, encourage them to see a therapist.
Look for other sources of stress in your life.Any source of stress and unhappiness in your life can lead to depression. Rule out other possible causes before you assume your relationship is the problem.
- Depression can be caused by the death of a loved one, a major life change such as a move, chronic illness, or a personality disorder, among other things.
Consider your family history.There can be a genetic component to depression, meaning you may have inherited genes that predispose you to depression.Think about if you have a parent or sibling who suffers from depression — if you do, it is possible you are at higher risk for depression, even without an external cause. The good news is that your depression can still be treated with a combination of therapy, lifestyle changes, and/or medication. Speak to your doctor or therapist to work out a treatment plan.
Notice whether your moods follow any patterns.If your moods tend to cycle through regular highs and lows, you may be dealing with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), cyclothymia, or bipolar disorder. Visit your doctor to get a diagnosis and learn about treatment options.
- Severe PMS can cause depression-like symptoms as well.
See a therapist.A therapist can help you figure out where your depression is coming from and how to deal with it. If you’re having doubts about your relationship, a therapist can also help you figure out whether breaking up is the right choice for you.
Video: How to Know if Your Relationship's Make or Break
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