Did you know that in 2015, 6.7 percent of Americans 18 and older had experienced at least one major depression episode that year? That comes out to roughly 16.1 million people. And anxiety is the most common mental disorder, affecting 40 million Americans every year.
Being in a relationship with someone with depression or anxiety, or both, isn't easy. It can be very emotionally taxing. But if the love is there, then so is the way to work through it. What it comes down to is exercising empathy and compassion, and understanding, rather than trying to fight or change the depression.
The system is highly sophisticated. Orange means she'll get an inspirational quote. A yellow stick has an affirmation on it, like "You're beautiful," or "You can do this." The pink one has a tip on it, like "Take a deep breath."
The Reddit user admitted in his post that he wasn't sure if the method was actually working. But the most he could do was try. "She's very special to me [the] least I can do is try to help," he wrote. Here are some other things to keep in mind if you're in a relationship with someone with anxiety or depression, or suffer from these conditions.
Another user used a similar tactic at work. They and their coworkers made a bad day jar for their boss. If the boss was having a bad day, they could reach into the jar and grab an affirmation that would help to pick them up. It's not so uncommon a practice after all.
A popsicle stick that says 'you are worth it' is a fine sentiment but it doesn't approach the core driver of depression...A chemical imbalance typically cannot be cured through positive thinking.
Depending on how severe this user's girlfriend's anxiety and depression are, maybe other interventions are necessary. The boyfriend's heart was in the right place, but maybe other measures needed to be taken.
If your partner is not in therapy to help them treat their anxiety and/or depression, you should encourage them to enter it. You don't want to play the role of therapist, or it could change the relationship dynamic for the worse. If your partner feels more comfortable with it, you could try couples therapy.
When a depressed or anxious person is in the midst of an episode, it might be hard for their partner to feel close to them, or even to speak with them. One way around that is to modify the communication style. For instance, you could both express how you feel and ask the other person how that makes them feel. This is called following and can keep the conversation going.
If you take your partner's anxiety personally, you run the risk of getting angry, upset, and making the episode worse. Remember: it's not about you. You can manage your feelings better than you can manage theirs. React calmly and compassionately, and objectively.
For those suffering from depression, sometimes the condition can color how you feel about the relationship. It can distort what's actually going on, and cause self-doubt. One thing PsyD Shannon Kolakowski says might help is to “Look for small ways to affirm that you are capable of affecting your path in life.”
If you're not sure if you have depression, or if it might be affecting your relationship, Dr. Antonio Borrello outlined some of the symptoms and ramifications of the condition. Being overly critical of a partner, little or no interest in participating in relationship-building activities, etc. can all be signs that you are suffering from depression, and that it's impacting your relationship.
Listening to your partner and learning about their depression or anxiety can actually help deepen your relationship. Care is a hallmark of any healthy relationship, but it also takes understanding and knowledge. By supporting your own mental health, you can stay resilient for your partner in their times of need.