What to do when your partner has depression but won’t get help

What to do when your partner has depression but won’t get help

Living with a partner who has depression can be challenging and emotionally draining. It is […]
Category: Uncategorised
Written by: Nadine McCabe

Living with a partner who has depression can be challenging and emotionally draining. It is essential to provide support and understanding during this difficult time. However, what happens when your partner refuses to seek help for their depression? This article aims to address this common concern and provide guidance on what to do when your partner has depression but won't get help.

Understanding Depression

Depression is a common mental health condition characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and a general sense of hopelessness. It affects millions of individuals worldwide and can have a significant impact on relationships. By understanding depression, you can better support your partner through their journey.

Symptoms of Depression

Depression can manifest in various ways, and its symptoms may vary from person to person. Common symptoms include:

  • Persistent sadness or irritability
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Causes of Depression

Depression is a complex condition with multiple contributing factors. Some common causes include:

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Hormonal changes
  • Chronic stress or trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Certain medical conditions

Recognising the Signs in Your Partner

It is crucial to recognise the signs of depression in your partner, even if they are unwilling to acknowledge it themselves. By understanding these signs, you can offer support and encourage them to seek help.

Behavioural Changes

Keep an eye out for significant changes in your partner's behaviour. This may include:

  • Withdrawing from social activities
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or passions
  • Increased reliance on substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Decreased productivity or motivation

Emotional Patterns

Depression often affects a person's emotions. Be attentive to the following emotional patterns:

  • Prolonged sadness or moodiness
  • Increased irritability or anger
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Expressing thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Communication Difficulties

Depression can impact communication, making it challenging for your partner to express their emotions. Look for these signs:

  • Difficulty articulating their feelings
  • Avoiding conversations about their mental well-being
  • Becoming defensive or dismissive when the topic is raised

Approaching Your Partner

Approaching your partner about their depression requires sensitivity, empathy, and patience. Here are some strategies to consider when having this conversation:

Creating a Safe Environment

Choose a comfortable and safe environment for your conversation. Ensure privacy and minimize distractions to create a space where your partner feels heard and supported.

Expressing Concern and Empathy

Start the conversation by expressing your genuine concern for their well-being. Use "I" statements to convey your feelings without placing blame. For example, say, "I have noticed that you seem down lately, and I'm worried about you."

Listening Without Judgment

Allow your partner to express themselves openly without interrupting or passing judgment. Offer active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and providing verbal affirmations.

Educating Yourself

As a supportive partner, it is crucial to educate yourself about depression. By increasing your knowledge, you can better understand your partner's experiences and provide informed support.

Learning About Depression

Take the time to research depression and its various aspects. Read reputable sources such as the National Institute of Mental Health or trusted medical websites like WebMD. This knowledge will enable you to have more meaningful conversations with your partner and offer accurate information.

Understanding Treatment Options

Familiarise yourself with the different treatment options available for depression. These may include therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative therapies. Having this knowledge will help you guide your partner towards appropriate resources.

Encouraging Professional Help

While supporting your partner, it is essential to encourage them to seek professional help for their depression. Professional assistance can provide the necessary tools and guidance to navigate this challenging period.

Explaining the Benefits of Therapy

Gently explain the potential benefits of therapy to your partner. Highlight that therapy offers a safe space to explore their emotions, gain coping strategies, and develop healthier thought patterns. Emphasise that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Assisting with Finding a Therapist

Offer to assist your partner in finding a therapist who specialises in depression. Research local therapists together, provide recommendations, and help schedule appointments. This proactive involvement can alleviate some of the stress and barriers your partner may face when seeking help.

Accompanying Your Partner to Appointments

Offer to accompany your partner to their therapy sessions if they feel comfortable. This act of support can provide reassurance and reduce any anxiety or fear they may have about the process. Attending sessions together can also help you better understand their therapeutic journey.

Supporting Self-Help Techniques

In addition to encouraging professional help, supporting your partner in adopting self-help techniques can be beneficial. These techniques can complement therapy and empower your partner to take an active role in their mental health.

Encouraging Physical Activity

Regular physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mental well-being. Encourage your partner to engage in activities they enjoy, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or yoga. Physical exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.

Promoting Healthy Eating Habits

Nutrition plays a significant role in overall well-being, including mental health. Encourage your partner to consume a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoiding excessive consumption of processed foods and sugary snacks can help stabilise mood and energy levels.

Practicing Mindfulness and Relaxation

Introduce your partner to mindfulness and relaxation techniques. These practices can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Encourage activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, or engaging in hobbies that promote relaxation.

Providing Emotional Support

Emotional support is crucial when your partner is dealing with depression. Here are some ways you can provide the support they need:

Being Patient and Understanding

Depression can make even simple tasks feel overwhelming for your partner. Be patient with them and understand that their motivation and energy levels may fluctuate. Avoid judgment or criticism and instead offer understanding and empathy.

Offering Unconditional Love

Remind your partner that you love and care for them unconditionally. Let them know that you are there for them, no matter what. Small gestures of affection, such as hugs, holding hands, or leaving thoughtful notes, can go a long way in showing your support.

Celebrating Small Achievements

Depression can make it challenging for your partner to see their progress. Celebrate even the smallest achievements, such as getting out of bed, completing a task, or attending a therapy session. Recognizing their efforts can boost their self-esteem and provide motivation.

Building a Strong Support Network

Cultivating a strong support network is essential for both you and your partner. By involving trusted friends, family members, or seeking couples therapy, you can ensure that you have the necessary support to navigate this challenging situation.

Involving Trusted Friends and Family

Reach out to trusted friends and family members who can offer support to both you and your partner. Share your concerns with them and let them know how they can be of help. Having a support system can provide a sense of community and shared responsibility.

Seeking Couples Therapy

Consider couples therapy as a means to strengthen your relationship and address the challenges that depression poses. A trained therapist can facilitate open communication, provide guidance, and help you develop coping strategies as a couple.

Setting Boundaries and Taking Care of Yourself

Supporting a partner with depression can be emotionally taxing. It is essential to set boundaries and prioritize your own well-being to avoid burnout.

Establishing Clear Expectations

Communicate your needs and expectations clearly to your partner. Set boundaries regarding personal time, self-care activities, and emotional support. This ensures that you can take care of yourself while still being there for your partner.

Seeking Personal Therapy

Consider seeking therapy for yourself to process your emotions and gain additional support. A therapist can provide guidance on how to navigate the challenges you face and offer coping strategies tailored to your specific situation.

Engaging in Self-Care Activities

Make self-care a priority in your life. Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you recharge. This can include hobbies, exercise, spending time with friends, or practicing relaxation techniques. Taking care of yourself allows you to show up as a supportive partner.

Understanding the Limitations

While it is essential to support your partner, it is crucial to recognise the limitations of your influence. Accept that you cannot force someone to seek help or change their behaviour. Each individual's journey with depression is unique, and it is ultimately their decision to seek treatment.

Accepting Your Partner's Choices

Respect your partner's autonomy and accept their choices, even if they differ from what you believe is best. Offer support and encouragement, but ultimately, the decision to seek help lies with them. Trust that they are doing what feels right for them at this time.

Recognising Your Own Boundaries

It is essential to recognise your own boundaries and emotional well-being. If your partner's refusal to seek help is taking a toll on your mental health or the relationship becomes toxic, it may be necessary to reassess the situation and seek professional guidance on how to proceed.


  1. What can I do if my partner refuses to acknowledge their depression?

If your partner refuses to acknowledge their depression, it can be challenging. Focus on providing support, expressing your concerns, and encouraging open communication. Consider involving a mental health professional who can help facilitate the conversation.

  1. Should I give ultimatums to make my partner seek help?

Giving ultimatums may strain the relationship and further isolate your partner. Instead, focus on compassionate communication and offering support. Ultimatums often lead to resistance and may not result in the desired outcome.

  1. How can I cope with my own emotional well-being while supporting my partner?

It is crucial to prioritise your own emotional well-being. Engage in self-care activities, seek support from trusted friends or therapists, and set boundaries to protect your mental health.

  1. Are there any alternative therapies that might help my partner with their depression?

While traditional therapies like medication and counselling are often recommended, alternative therapies such as acupuncture, yoga, and art therapy have shown promise in supporting individuals with depression. Encourage your partner to explore these options alongside professional help.

  1. Can depression ruin a relationship?

Depression can strain a relationship due to the challenges it presents. However, with understanding, support, and open communication, it is possible to navigate these difficulties and maintain a healthy relationship.

  1. Is it possible for my partner to overcome depression without professional help?

While professional help is highly recommended, some individuals may find relief from depression through self-help techniques, lifestyle changes, and the support of loved ones. However, it is important to emphasise that seeking professional help increases the chances of successful recovery.


Dealing with a partner who has depression and refuses to seek help can be overwhelming. However, by understanding depression, approaching your partner with empathy and compassion, and providing support through various means, you can make a positive impact. Remember to prioritise your own well-being, seek guidance when needed, and trust that each person's journey is unique. With patience, understanding, and support, you and your partner can navigate this challenging time together.