How Depression Affects Relationships | Dealing With Depression

February 19th, 2011

Depression is a debilitating disease that can affect a person’s communication and ability to form emotional attachments.  It is quite common for a person suffering with the depression to lose interest in all forms of human interaction and push people away.  While many people who are used to this behaviour will understand this is a symptom of the underlying illness, many take this rejection personally and this is where serious problems begin.  Many people will abandon a person with a seemingly, destructive attitude towards a relationship.  This, in turn, serves to compound the problem.

A loving relationship is based on trust and communication.  A typical symptom of depression is to recoil from sexual intimacy or feelings of love.  When depression has arisen for the first time, a partner can be hurt by this and assume there is a problem with the relationship.  It is possible, however, that the relationship has not changed, only the state of mind of an individual.  Anyone who notices a sudden change in attitude or affection in a relationship should consider the possibility of depression, before other assumptions are made.

The most severe forms of the illness can stop a person making even the most simple of everyday interactions.  For many, simply leaving the house can be unthinkable, for fear of running into a neighbour and having to chat.  This behaviour vastly changes how people treat and respond to a person.  Social self-exclusion is often perceived as arrogance and ignorance, provoking angry reactions and in many cases, making the initial depression worse.  As well as losing friends, it becomes harder to make new ones and so the cycle begins.

Depression can permeate into all walks of life if left untreated.   Too many employers put poor performance or a sudden lack of interest in the job down to a bad attitude.  Educating employers on the symptoms and coping strategies surrounding depression may help the problems to be addressed before work life is damaged beyond repair.  Work places can be tribal at times and someone who withdraws from a group and basic social interaction can quickly be ostracised.  Before too long, depression can affect output at work and the damaged lines of communication with colleagues can exacerbate the problem.  Companies should have clearly defined guidelines when it comes to stress and depression in the work-place.  Identifying problems before they spiral out of control will help people to manage their illness whilst remaining productive.

Dealing with depression alone is impossible and the help of family will vastly increase the chances of recovery.  Unfortunately, it becomes very difficult for depressed people to communicate with those close to them.  The idea of admitting to an illness like depression is very hard for many.  Instead, they withdraw and avoid family contact wherever possible.  This can make the problem worse as the family members reach the conclusion it is a personal rejection and, in turn, reject the afflicted family member.  Seeking treatment will help the individual to develop coping strategies and personal ‘rules’ of what to do when depression arises.  Telling a relative of the illness for the first time is hard, but once it’s done, the reaction to future changes in behaviour will be much more measured and understanding.