When anxiety or depression are the unwanted 'third party' in your relationship

You reach out to connect to your partner, but she is lost in a world of her own. He's sad, but nothing you do seems to help. No matter how you encourage, nag etc she just can't get motivated or excited about anything. You wish he'd just 'pull themselves up by the bootstraps' and 'get on with it', but he seems incapable of doing this.

Alternatively - your partner is stressed out all of the time. You may feel she has become reliant on you to soothe, suggest options, hold things in mind that she's unable to think about. You long to be able to bring your own stresses to your partner so you can be comforted and soothed, but he seems unable to provide this for you.

If either of these scenarios sounds familiar, it's possible that you're living with a partner who is suffering from depression or anxiety.

These disabling conditions can feel like the unwanted 'third partner' in your relationship. They may have emerged as a reaction to grief, loss, trauma, or life stressors that don't seem to have easy or short-term solutions.

It's often too hard, even with the best of intentions, will-power, or the most supportive partner, to overcome these conditions without some extra help! If you don't reach out for that help, relationships are often one of the main casualties.

If your partner is ready to get help, a good place to start is to chat with your GP, who can assess whether medication, psychological treatment and/or counselling are needed.

It may be important to seek out relationship counselling as well, to learn strategies together that empower the anxious or depressed person to accept help and use their own strategies to get on top of things, and to assist the 'well' partner to step back, make sure your own needs for nurturance and support are met (perhaps from caring extended family or friends at times when your partner is unable to be there in the way you need), and to offer support in a way that doesn't cause relational distress.

Till next post, Vivienne

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