Dating With Depression

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Even under the best of circumstances, romantic relationships can be difficult to form and maintain; but, if you have depression, dating can become especially challenging.  Among the many questions you may be asking yourself are:  When and how do you reveal your illness? And what can you do about the sexual side effects of your medication?  The following tips can help you navigate through the dating world as a depressed person and avoid some of the common pitfalls.

1.  Make sure you are in a good place mentally before seeking out a relationship.  If you are not in treatment, seek out help through your family physician, a psychiatrist or another mental health professional.  Go to a therapist if you need help dealing with any issues in your life that may be contributing to your depression.  Get involved with a support group and/or form a support network among your friends and family if you need extra support.

2.  Be compliant in your treatment.  If you are feeling well, it may be tempting to stop taking your medication, especially if you are experiencing side effects such as sexual dysfunction which might be interfering with your relationship.  However, it is not a good idea to stop taking your depression medications without speaking with your doctor first.  Your depression could return or become worse.  Or you may experience flu-like symptoms called discontinuation syndrome if you stop your medication too quickly.

  By speaking with your doctor about your concerns, you will be able to learn about ways to control any side effects you are having without running the risk of having your depression come back.

3.  Be honest about your illness, but choose your time to reveal it carefully.  Many experts advise that you shouldn't reveal your illness right away, instead waiting until it looks like the relationship has the potential to become more serious.

  When you do reveal your depression to your partner, it's best to do it when you can discuss it calmly rather than waiting until some sort of crisis forces it into the open.

4.  Be willing to tell your partner when you are not feeling well and accept his or her help when offered.  While you might want to hide your illness out of fear that they won't accept you or that they'll feel burdened, your illness is a part of who you are and your life experience.  Sooner or later, your partner will need to know.  It's best to be open and allow them to know the real you.  This kind of sharing can lead to true intimacy and trust in your relationship.  In addition, you will have another ally in your fight against your illness.

5.  Respect your partner's needs.  As painful as depression is for you, it can also be emotionally and physically draining to your partner.  Give him space to seek out support or take an occasional breather when needed, realizing that it doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't love you.

Sources:

Ball, Janel.  "5 More Tips for Finding Love With a Mental Illness."  Psych Central.  Psych Central.  Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.:  January 17, 2015.  Accessed:  June 17, 2015.

Rhodes, Lisa R.  "What's Love Got to Do With It?"  National Alliance on Mental Illness.  National Alliance on Mental Illness.  Accessed:  June 17, 2015.

Watson, Stephanie.  "Bipolar Romantic Relationships:  Dating and Marriage."  WebMD.  WebMD, LLC.  Reviewed by:  Matthew Hoffman, MD.  Accessed:  June 17, 2015.

Worth, Tammy.  "10 Tips for Dating With Depression."    Health.  Health Media Ventures, Inc.  Accessed:  June 17, 2015.

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