How to Help When Your Boyfriend is Depressed

How do you help a boyfriend who is depressed? How do you act, and what should you say? These tips are for girlfriends who aren’t sure how to cope with depression in their relationships.

How to Help When Your Boyfriend is DepressedIf you think (or know) your boyfriend is depressed, read Is He Depressed or What? What to Do When the Man You Love Is Irritable, Moody, and Withdrawn. It’ll help you recognize his symptoms, and help him to get the help he needs to manage his depressed feelings. The book will also show you how to take care of yourself and not get lost in his depression.

Here’s what Krystie says about her depressed boyfriend: “I have every reason to believe my boyfriend suffers from depression – he has all the classic signs. For the first time three weeks ago, he said he thought he was depressed. Do you have any thoughts on how to deal with a depressed boyfriend? He is a very supportive, kind and loving boyfriend, but recently that has changed and he can be rather cold and hurtful. I try to understand that this is just the depression talking, because I know the person that he otherwise is. His depression has put a real strain on our relationship and it hurts me. I told him that I felt his depression was the core of our issues. I told him depression clouds, confuses and masks emotions, feelings, desires, wants and needs. I don’t know what else I can do.”

Recognizing Male Depression

Is your boyfriend’s depression hurting your relationship?

The tricky part of recognizing male depression is that often doesn’t look like depression at all. Depressed guys often mask their depression with workaholism or substance abuse. Sometimes they withdraw from their girlfriends, wives, and other loved ones – or they lash out in aggressive ways.

If your boyfriend is depressed, he won’t necessarily walk around crying or being glum and sad. Rather, he may show signs of extreme fatigue, listlessness, social isolation, weight gain or loss, changes in sleeping patterns, or feelings of being overwhelmed. He may abuse drugs or alcohol, or take his feelings out on you.

Getting help for depression can be as complicated as seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, or as simple as getting the right information about depression. Sometimes medication helps; other times talk therapy is most effective. It depends on your boyfriend’s depression, personality, lifestyle, and other health issues.

Signs of Depression include

How to Help Your Depressed Boyfriend

How to Help Your Depressed Boyfriend

  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Unexplained changes in behavior.
  • Loss of interest in sex or physical intimacy.
  • Withdrawal or detachment, in communication or otherwise.
  • Irrational thoughts, phobias, or emotional issues becoming increasingly evident.

“These signs of depression differ by personality and by gender,” says depression expert Rich Naran. “The most intimate person – the partner of a depressed person – will perceive the subtle changes before a co-worker or a neighbor does. In fact, partners will see changes that others don’t grasp.”

You may recognize depression in your boyfriend before anyone else does, because you’re closest to him.

When Your Boyfriend is Depressed

Helping a depressed boyfriend depends on how the depression shows up, and how your boyfriend is coping with the idea of being depressed. Because of the social stigma of mental illness, denial and retreat are common when it comes to men and depressed feelings. Depression affects all relationships.

Learn all you can about depression

Depression can be the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain or a hormonal imbalance – it’s not necessarily caused by a difficult life or recent tragedy. Depression can be caused by less sunshine or a lack of certain nutrients. To help with your boyfriend’s depression, think about what the possible cause could be. You don’t need to diagnose or treat him — just think about his lifestyle and way of handling life’s problems.

Read How to Help Someone With Depression for more tips on helping depressed boyfriends.

Never treat your depressed boyfriend like a sick child

Let him know that you perceive something is wrong, but don’t demean your boyfriend by “trying to cheer them up.” In fact, never use the words “cheer up” in any fashion. You can’t raise his self-esteem or make him feel better — depression is more serious than simply “snapping out of it.”

Be watchful, but respect his space

Your depressed boyfriend has an illness that needs to be treated if it goes on too long. But, he has to be ready to get help before he can be helped. If you think he’s ready to think about accepting and overcoming his depression, read Natural Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It offers a few tips for treating depression that aren’t as scary or threatening as medication or counseling.

Avoid being a crutch or “enabler”

If your boyfriend is depressed, don’t take over all the responsibilities or create a situation that allows him to stay depressed and not get help. You need to find the balance between giving space, and encouraging your boyfriend to get depression help. Don’t turn into his mommy, caretaker, housekeeper, or personal assistant.

when your boyfriend is depressed

When Your Boyfriend is Depressed

If you’re considering leaving your depressed boyfriend, accept that there is no easy way to separate. Make a clean break, not a slow agonizing weaning off, which only fosters more guilt, emotional pain, and stress. The breakup has to be clean, or it will mess up both your lives even more.

If you feel guilty about your boyfriend’s depression, get counseling or a support group. Don’t struggle through this alone – find out if there are any depression support groups in your community. Getting online help when your boyfriend is depressed is good, but it’s important to get in-person support.

What do you think – can you help your depressed boyfriend cope? I welcome your comments below. I can’t give advice, but it may help you to share your experience.


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80 thoughts on “How to Help When Your Boyfriend is Depressed”

  1. 16 years together. 2 daughters under 10. I’m losing my boyfriend, he’s so depressed. He sleeps and sleeps, wakes in the night. I sleep on the floor in another room…the snoring and the movement in the night keeps me from sleeping too. He refuses to go out unless it is dark. He says he’s depressed, he says he’s hiding, he says he’s avoiding me. I say I’ve got the best interests of our family at heart and we need him in the land of the living. I’m thinking of putting a time limit on it. Then asking my boyfriend to leave if things don’t improve.

  2. I am in a sad maybe hopeless situation right now with my boyfriend of 11 years. He has had depression off and on a few times and when he does becomes angry and frustrated which he then vents on me. normally he is very loving and supportive but when he is depressed it is extremely difficult and when he is angry i just want to get away from him. He will accuse me of not empathetic when in fact i am a very empathetic person to the point that it is painful for me to watch him like this. we have recently moved to another state so that i can attend a doctoral program which is very demanding and intense. I am stressed and he is lonely and not working. he is a musician who had regular work where we were living and here so far very little. we are in our forties and he says he feels his career is dead. i do not want to be the cause of his biggest distress and tell him he is free to go back home while i stay here to attend school but he does not have the finances to do so. today he blew up because we received a parking ticket on our street parking area and i asked him to take care of the residential parking permit, he was then very angry and tells me i do not understand what it takes for him to take care of these things and i must do it. unfortunately i need copies of his truck registration and a valid drivers license which he does not help me obtain because his license has been expired for two years even though i have asked him to take care of it multiple times. He often does things like this, not taking care of them, he tells me he is too stressed out to do it. i have made it worse by taking care of some things in the past and even have made him psychiatrist appointments he will not go to. today he tells me i need to treat him as if he was a three year old and consider his feelings are that desperate, then dictating that i must ‘talk him down’ for a minimum of 30 minutes because i have stressed him out so much. i am exhausted and at my wits end, i am in debt because of school and i have suggested we break up in the past and he says he has nowhere to go and would not move out even if i break up with him. i love him very much but i can not function like this and don’t know what to do.

  3. Dear Chloe,

    I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It sounds like your boyfriend is dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions and pain, and his depression is affecting everything in his life.

    Give him time and space to heal. Let him do what he needs to do. I know you don’t want to lose him, but he is being honest with you. Give him the respect he needs, and trust that he knows what he’s talking about. He knows what he can and can’t handle in a relationship…and the sad truth may be that he can’t handle his love for you.

    I’m sorry you have to go through this. It’s so sad when someone we love can’t accept love, or allow himself to love. This is part of dealing with depression in a relationship, and your boyfriend is just trying to survive his emotions.

    Here’s an article that may help – I wrote it for a reader who asked for help detaching and letting go of her husband:

    7 Healthy Ways to Let Go of Someone You Love

    I hope it helps, and wish you all the best as you heal.

  4. I am so confused and heartbroken right now but it helps to read all these posts. I was only with my partner 6 months but it felt like years in such a good way. We worked for the same company for many years but never crossed paths until last October at a leaving Doo and we just had a general chat. We then crossed paths again at the Xmas party and he told me that night we should marry of which of course I laughed off. Over Xmas and new year we began to txt and he opened up to me about some of his problems. He was currently living with his partner of 13 years ( and her 17 yr old son, her daughter lives in her own home with her family) although there had been no intamacy for the past 3 years and in that time he had moved out for 12 months and only moved back the October we first spoke. Our conversations got more in depth and then one night he came around and we kissed. Within 2 weeks he had moved out and found himself renting his own place. We saw each other on a regular basis and we became intimate a month after he moved out. I learnt his ex is best friends with his sister where many family gatherings takes place. I also learnt he was physically abused by his father as a child and his mother was not at all paternal. He had a relationship with a woman who fell pregnant with his son (who is now 18) and he left them when his son was 4 years old. He had counselling for the guilt he felt for leaving his son. He and his son have an amazing relationship, they are extremely close. Soon after we started communicating he would send me lovely quotes and songs that he said described how he was feeling. He told me I was the one for him and how he never wanted to marry (he is 43) until he met me. He was soon announcing to my friends, family and his son, uncle and brother in law how we would be getting married and how he wished we could have our own baby. Everything was so good and we had spoken about moving in together later in the year. He was the driving force. I believe things started to go wrong in his head when his family had a few family gatherings in a small amount of time and his ex was always there. I was never invited.He also didn’t get invited to watch sports on tv with the “men” and he said this really cut him deep, he understandably felt rejected. I have 3 children 17,15 and 10, he has met my children and they all get on well and they all like him and he knows that. Only a couple of weeks ago we bought a furniture set and booked a holiday. Two weeks later out of the blue he tells me ” I thought I could do the family thing again but I can’t”. He also gave other really insignificant reasons/excuses, nothing makes sense.All what he had put in front of me and what I believed was my future had been snatched away . He vocalised to so many people his love for me and his plans to marry me, we even had a wedding song!!! I am heartbroken. We met and spoke and we just hugged so tightly and cried. I know he dosen’t want us to be apart, I can tell, he loves me too much but I beleive his self worth is low and all his relationships have been unloving and toxic but with me it was full of love and affection and I think he’s just running scared. He told me he is “fu**d” up and I’m better off without him. I’m not. I heard from his uncle who has been in our company and always comments how well suited we are. He is so sad this has happened but he said my (ex) partner does have so much baggage and carrys so much guilt that until he gets helps and learns to love himself he is damaged. I have reliterated to my man that we can work and our love should not just be given up on and he says he knows how I feel. I have told him I refuse to walk away but I will give him time and I pray that when his head his clearer he will find his way back to me. I know I cannot put my life on hold and I won’t , I have children but I will be here for him and I will regularly txt him (right or wrong) so he knows I will not abandon him and give up on him like his previous experiences. For me , this is all I can do because I really don’t want to lose the love of my life through this state of depression. Do you think my thoughts are right?

  5. Good evening to all! My name is Kellie. I’ve read through all of the postings here and WOW!! My heart goes out to each of you. I feel a sort of sisterhood with you without ever meeting or speaking with you ladies; I too have a partner that suffers from major depression and he also has a history of mental illness. I’ve known him a little over a year now, and was introduced to him by my best friend, his sister. We’ve only been in an on-and-off- again relationship for the past six months. I felt something somewhat incredibly magical or electric between us when I met him for the first time. He’s gorgeous, has a good heart and a sweet, tender soul. He is well-versed, educated, deeply profound, passionate and the best lover and friend I’ve ever had…Everything you could possibly want in a man.When things are good between us, it’s the greatest love that I have ever known. But when it’s bad, well, his depression is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my life. He self-medicates with alcohol and marijuana, which he says allows him to feel. Otherwise, he becomes numb and void of feeling. We started out as friends. In fact, he says that I am his best friend. But he is trying to get sober right now because the alcohol will kill him if he doesn’t do something about it and fast! I commend him for taking this huge step to straighten out his life, but the isolation involved, the depression, barely keeping in contact, the nonchalant repsonses i receive from his text messages (if he does text), not seeing him or spending any time with him…it cuts like a knife.
    I knew before we got involved that my sweetheart drank and suffered from depression, but I never knew to what extent he drank or how depressed he gets until the last six months…has been an eye-opening experience for me.
    And it’s every other day, ladies. He would never raise a hand to me, but when he cycles back and forth from elation to sadness, he becomes verbally and mentally abusive. He always wanted me to stay the night and gets upset if I leave before he’d wake up in the morning, but if I give in and stay the entire evening till morning, he wakes me up and demands that I leave!! Talk about a rude awakening, literally!!!
    And he always apologizes to me later and I know that his apology is not only sincere, but genuine. However, I go to bed with Dr Jekyll and wake up to Mr Hyde. He has been trying for months now to quit drinking and I blame myself because he hasn’t succeeded, because it allows him to feel, to love, to show affection. And I know how much he cares about me, but to drink just to show me he can love me, Or even to appear normal in social settings..that’s just so incredibly sad. Who is my boyfriend really? I’ve never met him sober. Will I like him? Will he like me?? What if he doesn’t love me sober? And, I don’t drink, but I’ve learned that as soon as he wakes up in the morning, his stainless steel coffee mug is ready to go with whatever liquor he’s jones-ing for for the day is ready to go. I have tried to help him. Offering to pay for treatment at a rehabilitation center. He hates his job, so I’ve offered to put him through school; whatever he needs! But he says he has to do it alone and by himself, and I respect his wishes, I really do, but I want to be there with him to see him through it because I love him so much. But I’m staying away, as much as its killing me, I’m staying away because I love him. I haven’t seen him for 2 weeks now.
    I’m lonely. I never thought I’d say that before and I’ve never said it until now at this point in my life, but I am. And even in my forties, I am approached frequently and asked out by other men, but I decline because I’m holding out for a man who may or may not want be with me once it’s all said and done. I just want to be with him so badly…I miss him so much. But how much longer are we going to have to go through this? Where do I pull the strength from to continue? I feel so lost, so incomplete. I thank you all for listening to my rant and I appreciate any advice or suggestions for handling this situation that you can give me. Our heartache and situations are so similar on so many levels with just a few minor instances unique to each of our situations. Thanks again..

    1. Wow, Kellie. Our situations are very similar, with the exception that while the man I love self-medicates with alcohol, I have seen him sober. He is never nasty, but can be irritable. Although, with the alcohol, he is more fre with his expression of love. Really, or situation are almost identicle right down to our age… 40s, holding out despite opportunities… all because he is our best friend and the depths of our love. My question to u is how often do u reach out?

      1. Michelle,
        Yes, our circumstances do sound so similar. And we miss them, don’t we?
        My heart aches not being able to talk to him; he barely speaks to his family, he isolates himself often because he feels his been such a disappointment. But he’s trying so hard to rebuild his life but now, he has shut me out too.
        He came over a few weeks ago to borrow money from me because he has dug himself in a hole financially, something that he didn’t even realize till he sobered up; I was so angry that he even asked for money after being silent for so long. And I didn’t want to give it to him, but I thought it was the right thing to do…I didn’t want him to get evicted from his apartment. And before anyone says anything, NO, I am not an enabler or suffer from codependency. I have made it clear to him that if he didn’t get help, we’d have to part ways. It took a few months, but he knew he had to do it and I promised him I’d see him through it because he wanted me to be there for him. But since joining aa, he only has time for meetings, focusing on himself, and isolating in his apartment the rest of the time. His depression is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! When we decided to become involved, I wasn’t prepared for the ugliness that accompanies depression; the hurtful comments, the displaced anger towards me, throwing me out of his apartment. I’m a nursing student and everything I’ve been taught about mental illness never painted an actual portrayal of what depression is really like. I never wanted this, I didn’t plan on falling in love with someone like this. Someone who hates himself so much that he cannot even open his heart to love me or his family. He hates his job, was never able to make it as an actor, (and he’s gorgeous ya’ll, so talented and charismatic). I just wish he could learn to be happy and appreciate what he does have, here and now and not be resentful or regret things in his life that he cannot change. I’ve never met someone so insecure before; insecure and so unhappy to the point that they’ve drunk themself to oblivion to forget their troubles or circumstances. It has made everything in his life a hundred times worse. And this has been in the making for years…20 some odd years! Way before I’d ever met him. Sometimes, I wish my best friend had never introduced me to him; she’s his sister. I don’t blame her or anything, I just wish I’d never gone over to her parent’s lakehouse to study that weekend. Now, he’s all I think about in my spare he okay? Has he relapsed? Is he contemplating suicide again? I worry constantly about him. And I know the last thing he wants is for me to worry about, but I do anyway. I know he loves me.. I know he thinks about me too, just as I think about him, but he’s got a lot to take care of; we can never be a truly happy couple unless he makes these positive changes in his life. And it can be done, he just needs to to stay diligent and dedicated.
        For now, i have to concentrate on getting my nursing degree, and if all goes well, I’ll graduate in the fall. And im not going to sugar coat things, he has truly screwed me up this semester; all the back and forth arguing, breaking up and making up and breaking up again. I’m not going to make the dean’s list this time, that’s for sure! But no matter what, something inside me knows that were not over. I can’t explain why I feel this way, I’ve never felt that way with anyone else, but with him, I just know we’ll never say goodbye. Well, I’m going to close for now. I appreciate all of you here, for letting me vent and discussing my troubles. And know that I’m saying prayers for each of you.

  6. I’m recently having to deal with this issue. My boyfriend and I have been dating for four months, though we also dated for almost the same amount of time four years ago in high school. Everything has been amazing for the last four months, despite being in a temporarily long-distance relationship (he’s in the army and is stationed 12 hours away from me while I’m in college). Suddenly, just this week, everything went downhill. He was hardly responsive, very crabby, and hardly spoke to me, which was incredibly unusual. Then he calls me and tells me he thinks we need a break. The only thing he could tell me was that he was extremely busy with getting ready to leave the army and applying for colleges that he thought not dealing with a relationship would help him. He says he can’t focus on us and that he feels shitty for not being a good boyfriend to me and that I deserve better. I told him I would give him some space for the time being. I started researching, thinking he might be depressed or bipolar. I’ve read so many stories similar to ours, and have found a lot of advice I thought would help. I tried sending him kind video messages, telling him he’s amazing and that he can get through this. I sent him one today and he spoke to me for the first time in a few days, in a text, saying I needed to give him space and that I was freaking him out. I just don’t understand. I’m trying to do anything I can to help, but he won’t let me. He isn’t diagnosed and I don’t know how he’ll react if I tell him what I think he might have. I love him so much and I don’t want to lose him. I know he’ll feel better, because he always comes out of these swings, but I’m scared he’ll make a rash decision and try to break up with me before that swing back comes. I don’t know what to do.

  7. Dear Faiza,

    Thank you for being here; it sounds like you and your boyfriend have been through so much in the past five years. You and he will always be connected, and will always be united by your love.

    I’m glad you’re gaining some clarity on what’s happening with him, and that you’re moving forward. Everything will turn out okay in the end! Don’t lose hope, and don’t give up on him yet. The best way to help when your boyfriend is depressed is to learn as much as you can about depression, and then figure out where your boundaries are. You need to get emotionally and spiritually healthy so you can be a supportive girlfriend.

    Wishing you lots of love and luck!

  8. I’m with my BF for 5 years. I know from the start that he is depressed but I just ignored it most of the time, thinking that it’s just a drama or something that is only in his mind and he can control it. So every time he is depressed we just quarreled and then we will not talk about it anymore. A year ago he was cheating on me, partly I blamed myself since I was the one pushing him to go n ad find another girl. I’m a little crazy (I know) but I was thinking that was the only way out. Then I got what I thought I wanted, he has another girl. Then I realized, I Love him so much! so I accused him of cheating and we had the biggest fight in our entire relationship. But we fixed it and we are okay at least for another year then he is depressed again. Now I realized after reading a lot of stories about depression that its so real and it is exactly what I’m experiencing right now! I can’t believe I’m in this relationship for too long and now I’m so feed up and I want to give up! but I love so much and I’m willing to try and help him. He is the most wonderful loving man in the world. He is very intelligent and I love him more than anything. I don’t know if I make sense but made me feel better. I’m not alone we are not alone and this will work just like the others now that I know all about this.

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how your boyfriend is struggling with depression. I can’t give advice, but I encourage you to talk to a depression helpline or a counselor. Getting professional support is the best way to help a depressed boyfriend, and to learn ways you can keep yourself healthy and happy.


  10. Hello. I feel My boyfriend is depressed. Because he lost only one who lived with him recently(his father) And I would love to help but I can not .he doesn’t want I be close to him. she deny me. I’m afraid about our relationship. What can I do to help myself stay calm and help him and my relationship?

  11. Hi Laurie,

    My boyfriend (ex I should say now) broke up with me about a month ago due to what I believe is depression. It happened out of nowhere. Everything we had was great. We never fought, got along, and agreed on many topics and opinions together.
    He was moody due to moving and a work deadline that was coming up. He would accidentally spill pop and will be very irritable from it. He also claims that he has his temper from his father. I would let him have his moment and time to calm down. He started to make dinner for us and 20 minutes later I couldn’t find him anywhere. I finally found him on the bed face down thinking he was taking a nap, until I heard crying. I asked him what was wrong and that’s when he said I think we need to break up. :/ I sat there going through denial, not knowing what I did or what was wrong. He declares that he doesn’t know why, but he’s so unhappy. After everything I’ve done for him, I started packing all of my belongings. He didn’t stop me. I went to the bathroom and closed the door. I gathered all of my belongings in there, opened the door and when he saw me with all of my stuff he cried even more. I told him I didn’t know what he wanted me to do, and that I wanted to stay with him and I don’t think he will understand how happy he made me. No response, so I kept going. As I was finishing up and about to leave, he insisted that we talk. So I sat down and listened. He said that he had been selfish and hates himself, and wants me to hate him in order to move on. I told him I couldn’t do that. He then explained how every relationship he has been in that there is always a point where he breaks down like this, but there was absolutely no other reason he would think that would cause him to do this, and that I was a perfect, great girlfriend to him. He was never treated so well before, but he thinks I deserve better. He the followed me all the way back home (about an hour away) and back. He told me if I ever needed anything that he would be there and gave me a hug when I couldn’t even hug him back. I’m trying to understand and give him the time, but a part of me can’t believe this. He was the best thing that has ever happened to me and now it’s all gone. I wish he would of told me (there was no other signs), or given me a chance to help him and be there for him, but he gave it all up and I’m stuck here trying to get over something that was the best thing I’ve ever had. He has everything he would ever need to be happy, including me. I’m going to try and talk to him soon, but I am so afraid now of getting hurt even more. How should I approach this?


  12. Dear Thandi,

    It’s important for your brother’s doctor to be involved in whatever herbal remedies your brother tries! Some supplements, like gingko, can interact negatively with prescription medications. So, your brother shouldn’t take anything for depression or dementia without his doctor’s approval.

    I’m glad you’re looking out for your brother – that’s very caring of you! I hope he is able to get better soon.


  13. hi
    what a refreshing article, because i have a brother that suffers from dementia so you have opened my eyes by going back in using herbs. Will Ginkgo Biloba/Ginseng be used for dimentia sufferers? If you may advise on what to do cause nmy brother is uncontrollable yesterday he left is wife place or left without us knowing where he went that is a concern. Will appreciate your help or suggestion.

  14. Please help me. My boyfriend has trust issues and aparently he doesnt trust me enough but he is really depressed right now. I tell him that im here for him and that i care about him but he just laughs and says okay, like he doesnt belive me. Its really frustating, i dont know how to help him, he wont let me but if i back off he just gets even more mad. What should i do ? Hes also had a rough past & currently lives with neither of his parents.

  15. Yea just turns out my b/f was somewhat depressed only because he was a drug addict and I had no clue! So now I’m over 3 mos. single and better because of it. Don’t be a naiive, ignorant dumbass like me! When you see the first signs of trouble, get the f**k out ASAP! Don’t waste precious years of your life on someone who’s so sick in the head they were never capable of a REAL relationship.

  16. Dear Katie,

    It’s important for you not to take it personally. Your boyfriend is depressed for reasons that are separate from you, and his depression will not be cured by you – no matter how loving, charming, funny, or cute you are!

    I’m not a fortune teller, and have no idea if your relationship is going to work out. I also don’t know if he will not be depressed one day. Some people go through bouts of mild depression every once in awhile, while others struggle with depression their whole lives. It depends on their genetics, lifestyle, medication, stress level, ways of coping, and even what foods they eat.

    I think the best way to proceed is to assume that your boyfriend stay the way he is right now. Don’t expect him to change.

    Can you live with him the way he is right now — without expecting that you can cheer him up or make him happy?

  17. Hi. I really hope you reply to this comment. I have been dating my boyfriend for about 6 months now and have known him for almost a year. I didn’t know he had depression until after we started dating. It seems at times like he is never happy with me and other times that he thanks me for being the best girlfriend. I am trying to get to the point of this post. I am someone who naturally likes to boost people up with humor and try to look at the bright things and it honestly hurts me when the people I am trying to help do not seem to be helped. He will snap at me, get really confused at night time, and sometimes makes me feel like shit about myself. Those are the negatives, there are a lot of things he does right. Is our relationship going to work out? If he continues to act this way then I would not want to continue dating him. His depression sucks because he has so much potential to be someone I would want to be with for a long time. I guess maybe I am holding on because when he has good days they are really good and usually out weigh when he has a bad day. Am I setting myself up for unrealistic expectations that maybe one day he wont be depressed? Or will there be a better way for him to handle his depression, because honestly I feel as though it is pushing me away.


  18. Dear Laurie, thank you for reaching out to us women who are suffering with this issue. I was hoping you could give me some guidance as well. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years now (our 3yr anniversary is actually in one week) and things have been amazing. My sister, after a few drinks, even spilled to me that he is planning to propose this spring/summer. I have been very very happy. But lately we have been struggling. It is not unlike him to get moody. We have had issues with it in the past…in general he is more sensitive and pessemistic, while I am much more optimistic and positive. Lately things have been difficult for him, and his struggle is affecting us more than it ever has before. His career is not going in the direction that he wants it to at the moment, we both work a lot and he works every weekend, so we don’t have any day off together and we don’t get a lot of quality time together. On top of this, he is very far away from home. His whole family lives in Europe while we live here in NY. Every single day he is upset and won’t talk to me. Even when we go out for dinner he is very quiet and there is absolutely no glow in his face. I tried to talk to him about it. I asked him if he was okay, what was bothering him, etc..but he wouldn’t tell me. I didn’t want to push too far because in the past it has only made him really angry. Now he finally opened up to me that “everything is wrong” and made it seem a lot in regards to our relationship because we don’t get enough quality time together. I tried to tell him that we need to make the best of things because there is a lot that is out of our control. We need to enjoy the time we do get together and make changes where we need to and can. But he fights me and just seems completely incapable of being happy and seems totally hopeless. Even though he insists that I am not the problem, I can’t help but feel like I must be doing something wrong, or that I can’t make him happy. Its horrible. Eventually I just got frustrated and reacted aggressively back at him and told him he was crazy, which was also horrible. I also feel guilty that he is so far from home…like I am keeping him here. But I am also working towards a degree and certification in teaching ESL so that I will always have a career lined up both here and in Europe. I am totally devoted to him and willing to move to Europe. I feel like I give him my all but maybe I don’t? Last night, after I got angry with him, he told me that I am being completely unsupportive during a time that he needs it most. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t have any idea how to handle his strong, moody, and discouraging emotions. I feel so lost and scared. I want to help him, and I also don’t want to lose him. I have considered seeking help, but he would NEVER agree to seeing a doctor and I know I can’t afford it.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. Any words of wisdom, guidance, and/or comfort would help.

  19. Dear Katie,

    You were right when you said that you can’t take his burden from your boyfriend. He needs to take responsibility for his life and his emotional health. If he was your child, I’d say take him to a doctor or counseling, and try to figure out what is causing the depression.

    But your boyfriend isn’t your child, and you can’t take away something that he needs to deal with.

    Here are some questions to consider:

    What is he doing to cope with his depression?

    Is he ready to be in a committed relationship?

    Have you and he moved too fast in your relationship?

    Even if you don’t answer these questions here, I encourage you to think about them. Write down your first reaction, and then your second reaction.

    If your boyfriend can’t cope with his depression, then he may not be ready to be in a serious relationship.

    What do you think?


  20. Hi my name is Katie…im writing this BC I’m trying to understand how or what I need to do to be there for my boyfriend.. We have been together only 3 months…i love him very very much. I can definitely see us having a future together and possible getting married some day. My boyfriend struggles from severe depression…not a week goes by that he’s not depressed. He has a few good days here and there but primarily bad ones. He said he’s felt like this his whole life and he hates it. He currently hates his job and that’s been what he’s been focusing on lately…i know its not the cause but its a factor. He becomes very withdrawn and started sleeping with his back turned away from me. .sometimes he doesn’t even want to be touched…sex has become almost non existent in our relationship. He can be very hurtful at times and say some really horrible things to me that sting. overall though I know his heart and I know he’s an amazing man. He says he knows he needs to deal with his depression and get help…he just doesn’t know how. Everytime he tries to make a goal…like he’s not goin to dwell on the bad…he ends up still goin right back to square one. He says that he loves me…can see us getting married…that I’m a saint and he doesn’t deserve me. I’m not trying to toot my own horn but I am an excellent gf. I love him wholeheartedly and do everything I can to make sure he knows that…im always there for him…i think he has a really hard time trusting people BC of his past and I’m not going to divulge too much info but I can understand why he would say that. He often tries to end things with me. today…and when he does I always tell him that he’s free to go…if that’s really what he wants. He’s never had a gf like me…who is caring , understanding and supportive…i think it scares him. He says the only person who has ever been there for him his whole life was his mom and that every other girlfriend he’s ever had he’s either broken up w them BC he was tired of having to apologize for the way he acts or they broke up with him BC they couldn’t take it anymore…i truly truly do love this man…and I’m really not making excuses for him…i feel that he’s sick with depression and doesn’t know how to handle it or where to begin to get treatment that will genuinely help what the real deep rooted issue is and the cause. He is against medication…which quite frankly I am too…i feel that in certain instances it may be beneficial if a person is really that depressed that they can’t cope anymore…but it should be used as a tool to get them to a point to where they are capable of coping better and then other treatments should be made available…this is soooo hard.. I want him to have the best, blessed full life possible, I hate seeing this beautiful man hurt and be so angry and want to be alone all the time. He knows this isn’t normal…what can we do?..while I know I can’t take his burden from him…i don’t know how to really help him…i want him to have a full life. He is everything I’ve ever wanted…he is an amazing person when he’s not depressed…what should we do…what can we do to help him? Any thoughts or suggestions would be more then greatly appreciated..thank u for listening to my rambling!

  21. Dear Cami,

    Thank you for sharing how you’re coping with your boyfriend’s depression. You’re right; it does complicate things when you yourself struggle with depressed feelings!

    Are you being treated for depression? If I were you, I would talk this through with a counselor. If you can’t afford to see one – even just for a session or two – then call a women’s support line. You don’t necessarily need professional therapy to figure out what to do. You just need to sit down and talk it through with someone who will listen and give you objective feedback.

    Somewhere deep inside you, you know what to do. The trick is finding your answers, and then finding the strength and courage to make changes in your life.

    What do you think?

  22. Hi,
    My boyfriend was diagnosed with bipolar 2 years ago, two weeks after we started dating. In fact, the start of a new relationship was the trigger of his manic phase.
    Right now he is depressed and I can’t stand it. He ignores me, he won’t talk to me and he thinks that there is no point on hanging out because he is just so down he doesn’t care about anything. He still has the same job that he’s had for 9 years and he doesn’t have the drive to find a better job or to go back to school. We live together and sometimes it feels like we’re just roommates. I suffer from depression too and this doesn’t help, I feel one of us has to be stronger and it’s always been me. He is seeing a doctor, and he’s taking meds for his bipolar, but he still has symptoms. The doctor said that it is impossible to have all under control, he’s always gonna have some symptoms. I wonder if there’s a natural, more effective way of treating bipolar. I’m running out of patience here. I don’t know what to do, I love him, but at the same time I think this is ruining my life. I’m not going anywhere with this relationship. I don’t have anybody to talk to about this subject because people usually don’t understand because they’ve never experienced anything similar and they give me vague answers. I hope someone here can give me some advice or at least make me feel understood.


  23. Dear Nicola,

    I think your idea of talking to your family doctor and getting counseling help is a really good idea — you need someone you can sit down and talk to! I wish I could be that person, but I can’t. I’m glad you’re here, though, because it’s important for you to get it all out.

    It’s so healthy to express what you’re feeling — and then you need to find ways to move forward.

    Maybe you don’t need to change who you are (kind, loving, generous, helpful, compassionate). Maybe you just need to re-evaluate your expectations of the men in your life. And you need to LISTEN to them, and BELIEVE what they say.

    If you look back on your relationships, can you see the men telling you who they are? For instance, Rick flip flopped about your relationship and was a depressed boyfriend. Those are huge red flags and warning signals that need to be heeded!

    If I were you, I wouldn’t try to change my personality. I would just be more cautious about who I allow myself to fall in love with. I would go slowly, and I would listen to both the men and my friends/loved ones. Often they have really wise advice for us, if we’d only listen.

    This isn’t about Rick. It’s about YOU, growing into an emotionally healthy, secure, and happy woman. It’s time to focus on yourself.

    Have you read any books by Byron Katie, such as Knowing What Is? I mention it in my article

    Find Byron Katie’s book, or one by Wayne Dyer. They are excellent sources of how to accept your life and yourself for what it is — and how to see others for who they are.

    You may also find helpful.

    I know it’s so difficult to heal and move on. It’ll be hard for the next few weeks…but you WILL survive this! And you’ll be stronger and healthier because of it.


  24. Dear Laurie,

    I’m sorry too that Rick ended things in the way he did. He has since called several times including twice today and we have talked because I need some closure and to get it I need to understand what’s wrong with his head and feels that he loves me but isn’t in love with me which basically means he can’t remain in the loving relationship we have had. He said it just hit him just over a month ago that he wasn’t in love me or in the moment as he describes it. I asked him why he didn’t talk to me when we got together on Dec 7 after he had been sick and was having the biopsy etc. and he said he was sorry for how he had treated me and that he should have talked to me, I also asked him why we were together as normal, making love, him taking my hand when we were out etc. We spent the next weekend together and I still had no idea he wasn’t with me anymore and it hurts like hell. I think I’ve known for a long time that he wasn’t right for me, but my heart ruled my brain out every time. We have separated so many times over the last nearly 3 years, I should have known it would end with my heart being shattered and I am really struggling to get a grip. The last time he broke up was in May of this year (after his mum came home from hospital) and I dated a few times until he came back in July, I shouldn’t have done so, I’m a 50 year old fool and I’ve shed so many tears over this and I don’t want to anymore. My mum pointed out to me that I am a woman who loves and cares too much and I want to learn to stop this behaviour, my mum too has been that way and she doesn’t want me to be this way. I was also like it in my marriage even though he verbally abused me and mistreated me sometimes. We have been amicably separated and divorced for over 3 years now. Laurie I feel like I’m falling apart and I want to stop caring and loving him and truly move on from this. How can I learn not to be so loving, kind, generous and caring so that when I do meet the love of the rest of my life I won’t be so hurt and in pain. I really thought Rick was the love I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, but I guess I was fooling myself because I loved him too much. Please can you suggest how I can learn to change and just be a normal woman who doesn’t love too much.

    Also, Rick is Italian and I know that they stick together and adult children are kept from really growing up (I always thought Rick wasn’t emotionally mature, it’s like he stopped growing emotionally in his early twenties, he’s nearly 42 but isn’t like other men his age). A friend just explained to me this afternoon that culturally if Italians don’t leave home to marry or attend school in their 20’s that they will never likely leave home. I know that Rick has ties at home, he admitted that while his mum was in hospital for many months this year that she asked him not to leave his much older sister alone in the house, I knew it was the case even when he originally denied it because we saw little of each other during those months and then he broke up with me again. He also feels so much guilt and that he needs to stay there because his mum and sister have helped him so much over the years of his mental illnesses, also thinking back to the last time he broke up he did say that he needed to be there and that he was obligated. I asked him why he has chosen to become an old, lonely, unloved man after his sister leaves this life because he will be caring for her as she ages, she’s turning 60 at the end of January. I don’t get it and I feel so very sad for him especially as he told me I am the right one but he can’t give me what I deserve.

    Please suggest the help I need, I am going to talk to my family doctor again and ask for some counselling help which either won’t cost me (I’m broke as I’m not working a lot this last part of the year) or will cost very little.

    Thank you again, Nicola

  25. Dear Matt,

    Thank you for being here! It’s good to get the boyfriend’s perspective. I wish you all the best as you work towards healing from depression.


  26. I am “the boyfriend” in the kind of arrangement this article covers. My girlfriend is fantastic and very supportive; often I feel like I don’t deserve the gracious way she deals with my anger and lethargy and disassociation and weeping and drinking and smoking that goes with my, undiagnosed, condition. I don’t want her to get sick of my illness. I think in a way this article has proved that I need to sort it out- thanks.

  27. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for your thoughts and allowing me to share my experience. I love this man desperately and haven’t felt love like it since the first time I was with my ex-husband way back in 1981!

    This love hurts because I am absorbed in it and him that I have lost the sense of myself and I desperately need to learn how I can care for myself again and not mind being by myself which I seem to be a lot. We spend more time apart than together because “life” keeps getting in the way and I have a hard time coping with it all. I have lost touch with “me” and I want to get back to me and feel secure with me and feel ok on my own when I’m not with him. Sadly the latest is that I had not spoken to him since he called a couple of times Friday before he went to have the CT scan of his neck to see what’s going on with the thyroid cancer, yesterday he tried to contact me 3-4 times and I just felt unable to talk to him because I was disappointed about not seeing him until today (which was what he said that I wouldn’t likely see him before Sunday) and didn’t want to say anything negative.

    Anyway, I haven’t heard from him today (it’s usual for us to talk on the phone several times a day but sometimes I don’t hear from him and I’m ok with it), I did try to reach him a few times today to no avail but I did get a text at 6 p.m. saying that he’s busy over the holidays (Christmas?) and to please make alternate plans (we were spending Christmas together) and that mom is not well (she is 83 and broke her shoulder last February and was hospitalised until May and basically hasn’t been out of bed since being home).

    I am completely devastated by this and I shouldn’t be because he retreats when it comes to his family and most specifically his mum, I have taken it completely personally and this is something I need help to learn not to do, however, Christmas season brings out too many emotions in me and something like this does not help. I did not want to be alone for Christmas as it is such an emotional time of year and I simply like it not to exist! My mum is away this year and my children are with their dad this year so I just didn’t want to be alone and I asked him not to leave me by myself at Christmas then this. Fortunately he and I had been asked to friends for dinner and so I will go by myself.

    I have just finished balling my eyes out with a friend who I am having Christmas with and she told me I have to learn to love myself again and reconnect with myself and do for myself, but how Laurie? I feel so messed up and that something’s wrong with me because I love him so much that I hurt when I’m not with him or when he has to attend to his own issues. He knows I am here always to support him and that I will be with him every step of the way while he get’s rid of the cancer in January.

    I just take things so personally where he is concerned and I told him last weekend that I think I’m insecure because not since my ex-husband have I felt this much for a man and I’m afraid of losing it and that I don’t deserve to be in love or be loved by him and I know he loves me with all his being. In the past when these things have happened I have over-reacted and thought he was done with me etc.

    I hate myself for thinking these things and not being able to cope with these disappointments, how do I be “ok” with it Laurie?

    Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.

  28. Lili,

    Thank you for sharing how you and your boyfriend. I’m sorry you feel you contributed to his depression – that’s a heavy burden to bear.

    I think you need to talk to someone in person about how to help your boyfriend cope with his depression. It sounds like he has serious struggles – he’s not happy, and his health is suffering.

    Can you call a local distress line or depression help line? I think it’s important to talk to someone who can listen to your description of you and your boyfriend, and give you specific advice.

    You mentioned you go to university. Most campuses have a counseling office or peer counselors. Can you talk to someone there? Please try that, and let me know how it goes. Your boyfriend doesn’t have to go in to talk about his feelings of depression, but you may be able to get advice on how to help him.


  29. I’m glad I could be helpful, Nicola! Thank YOU for sharing your experience here, because you are helping other women who are dating men who are struggling with depression.

    Also – I’m sorry that your boyfriend has been diagnosed with cancer. That’s awful, but I’m so glad he has you to lean on. I’ll keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers.


  30. Hi Laurie,

    I want to thank you so very much for generously replying to my post on your site and your words of advise are very much appreciated! Since I posted my bit, he has come around and we just spent a very happy weekend together as we usually do. I really must learn to accept the times when he needs to be alone with his anxieties or what ever his feelings are because he always tells me that it’s never me, its just him and how he best copes. His depression and anxiety has been so much better since the summer thankfully. I should know how he feels because I too have moments with my own depression and anxiety when I don’t want to talk to my loved ones or even get out of my home, it doesn’t happen a lot but it happens!

    Anyway, also since I posted my bit, he received the results of his biopsy and unfortunately he has thyroid cancer in the very early stages. He was more anxious prior to receiving the results last Wednesday than actually getting the results because we now know why he had been so tired, cold and unwell for three weeks. He’s feeling much better which I think is also a good thing. He is taking the news in his stride and is thankful he is in touch with his own health and felt the node above his left clavicle as soon as it popped up. I am going to be by his side every step of the journey with his cancer and we are very positive and he is now wanting to get going on firstly the CT scan, then surgery to remove either the entire thyroid and node which are diseased and possibly some additional nodes in the area of his thyroid as a precaution. Depending on where disease is showing on the CT scan, he may or may not require Iodine treatments, surgery may be all that is required to remove the diseased parts. He had a full blood work up in August sometime which was normal, an abdominal ultra sound which was normal and more recently a chest x ray which was normal and an ultra sound of his neck region which also was normal in that there did not appear to be any tumours or things which should not be there. It seems that the cancerous cells have arrived in the last couple of months and the node that was biopsied (sp?) was encapsulated which is very good.

    Again, thank you for your thoughts in helping to learn to respect and understand his occasional need to isolate himself when he’s very anxious or down.


  31. I was very sadened upon seeing this site, to see so many of us suffering.I have to let all this out.

    My partner and i have been together for 4 strong years, our relationship was full of love and joy. We have a 12 year differencein age, me being the baby, just turned 22 year old.
    6 month ago, my mother’s apartment (which has became a extremely over priced, money draining property) was finally sold, up untill then i lived with my mother and i paid her rent weekly. However this sale happened so sudden, we both found ourselves scrumbling to move everything that made up the home into storage/flat hunting while attending to daily lives such as our jobs…etc. I knew then and even more so now, that i was selfish to consider it would be convinient for me to move to my partner’s house. As it was right next to where i work and not far from my university. This all happened during my mid semester finals and i had not think anything through, before i know it i was living with my boyfriend.
    I have noticed my boyfriend’s work changing him slowly, year by year, he grew more tired, less energetic. in the last couple of years it have worsened, when his company merged with a bigger one. He now have too much for himself to handle.
    I never intended any of this to happen, but without realizing, i have contributed to his depression. My partner had always found me very sensitive, the slight mention of any of his exes would earn him cold shoulders from me. I have always found myself insecure, especially with him because this is my first relationship. I have tried talking to friends and family about the problems i have on my end and everyone keep telling me that im young, attractive, what do i have to be afraid of? But i see it very differently, as my insecurities has never been about how i look. Therefore making relaship talks hard for him, as he don’t want to hurt me. But it’s gotten to a point where he wouldnt talk much, lack of signs of affection, dont want to go out, and would isolate himself with computer games. I have not noticed that untill recently, as i was far too busy with working and uni. I came home last night from a long day of work, and all he said was a tone-less hello while staring at the TV. I had no choice, i need to know what’s going on. I turned off the TV, and sat down infront of him and finally, we had a conversation. Immediately, it hit me, he’s showing classic signs of depression, he told me while tearing up, being a 34 year old man, he have no friends, hating himself when he look in the mirror, have lost any enjoyment of life and experiencing health issues that have caused continuous insomnia and stress. And he’s afraid that if he dont change soon, he feel that he might live to see 40. He ofcause also confessed that me living with him is not doing this situation any favors, as i am still in the state of being ‘taking care of’, as i was like when i lived with my mother. I know this myself, i know inorder for me to grow into a proper adult, i need to experience living on my own to start off with. I feel so horrible that i contributed to his depression, and that i have failed to notice sooner. I feel that this conversation had taken a huge weight off him, but ofcause talking no action is not going to take us anywhere. I have not have any rest since the talk, and cried my way through the night. And it hurts him to see me so sad. But i know, i have to act, I have made plans to start moving in the next couple of days, because i know the longer im here the longer he’s not going to recover. I begin to hate myself for what i have done, and i want do to everything i can to save him and our relationship. If anyone have bothered to read through this tideously long plea for help, please, any suggestions and advices would be helpful. The last thing i want is for him to push me away, as i love him too much to loose him. :'(

    Many thanks
    May god guide all of us through our rough storms.


  32. Hi Nicola,

    You and your boyfriend may have some of the same issues with depression and anxiety, but you cope with them quite differently! He needs to retreat and sort through his thoughts, emotions, and problems alone (like with his test results).

    You, on the other hand, want to lean on him — and you want him to be able to lean on you! After all, that’s what a relationship is for, right?

    Neither way of being in a relationship is “right” or “wrong.” You’re just different.

    You know you need to let him retreat and cope with things his own way…the question is how! I’m going to write a full article about it, because it’s such a good question.

    I’ll post the link here, within an hour or two.


  33. My boyfriend and I have been together nearly 3 years (next month) had our ups and downs initially but are very much in love with each other and are happy when we’re together, we don’t have disagreements, we have an open line of communication and care deeply for one another. Here’s the issue, he has depression and anxiety (as I do to a much lesser degree) quite badly, most of the time he’s great and we’re great together. We’re both on meds to help ease the mental health stuff. Over the last 4 weeks, we haven’t been together because for 3 weeks he’s been sick and feeling crummy (I wonder if my EBV came out of hiding and gave him mononucleosis, he has been having the same sort of symptoms as I had when I was diagnosed with mono 7 years ago at age 43, he’s 41 right now) and has stayed away from everyone so we don’t get sick, but now he’s very anxious about not being able to see me for these weeks and has some financial woes etc. He has told me once again that he needs time alone, which is what he does when he’s highly anxious, he just shuts down, stops phoning me, just will text a bit, doesn’t want to talk to anyone, let alone me. I don’t handle these episodes very well at all, I get very anxious and sad and have panic setbacks and react in the wrong way which I despise myself for, I say things to get his attention like a stupid teenage girl. I’m being selfish and I apologise for my behaviour until I’m sick, so he knows I’m sorry. How can I learn to simply give him his time to be alone so he can regroup without texting him how much I miss him, love him and am here for him, just plain old leave him be and welcome him back when he’s feeling better, I do respect this need of his but I hate being separated from him as I know he doesn’t like being separated from me. To boot, he is hearing results in the morning of a biopsy he had last week of a lymph gland on his collarbone and I badly want to be there for him and have offered but he wants to go alone it seems, I am beside myself with worry about it, I can’t imagine what he must be going through, I wouldn’t want to be alone at a time like this, but woman are different I guess. I’m praying it’s not serious as he’s been through enough with his mental health. How can I best try to understand his need to isolate himself when he’s stressed? He told me last Saturday that he is anxious about not seeing me yet he’s shutting me out at the moment, why?

  34. Hi Lola,

    It’s so difficult to know how long a man’s depression will last, or if there’s anything you can do to help! There’s a fine line between loving and supporting him, versus enabling him and getting overly involved in caring for him.

    It’s important to remember that you can’t “un-depress” a depressed man (or woman). They need to talk to a health professional, and start trying different ways to heal.

    What is your boyfriend doing to deal with his depression? Is he seeing a counselor or family doctor?

  35. Hello everyone. This is just the type of place I was looking for concerning my b/f situation. I’m so glad it’s current but at the same time it saddens me to see we are all in the same boat. I have been with my boyfriend officially for almost 4 years. We’ve had our fair share of ups and downs with life in general but for the most part have had a healthy, happy relationship. We met at work and worked together for over 4 years just up until this summer. We were both unhappy with our job that was going nowhere but I was the only one actively job searching. I resigned and moved on to a new job in June. A couple of weeks later he was fired mainly for not seeming to take his job seriously anymore. He had already showed some signs of depression earlier in the year just about trying to figure out his future. Now that he’s unemployed he’s really become depressed admitting becoming introverted and just not knowing what to do with his life. It breaks my heart to see him this way and when I feel “pushed away” by him or when he won’t talk to me it’s devastating. I can understand how he feels and why he feels this way but all I want is for him to get through this “rough patch.” I have a lot of family problems and battle with my own “depressed” feelings from time to time. I think he feels overwhelmed by everything and helpless. He did admit to me a few months ago something along the lines that he wishes he could do more for me. This is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with but only his true self and not this “shell” he’s drawn himself into. To add to all of this we don’t live together and I only get to see him on the weekends because we live almost an hr away from each other. I call and text him during the week and he doesn’t return it sometimes until a day later or not at all. I don’t want to text and call him repeatedly but I’m compelled to do so until he answers just because I want to hear his voice and make sure he’s okay. I tried talking to him face to face recently but I ended up doing all the crying and it didn’t make him open up anymore so I’m guessing that was the wrong approach. Oh what to do!? It’s the holidays too so this just isn’t how I want either of us to feel.

  36. Thank Laurie. Your advice did help. I’m glad I didn’t encourage him to open up more to me before I broke things off with him. Nobody likes to be vulnerable then get left behind in the dust! Unfortunately, due to his busy schedule and in general him being moody and short with me, I broke things off in a text message. I couldn’t wait around for much longer for him to even give me time so I just told him how I felt – which basically went a long the lines of how I know he’s going through a lot (with work and his depression etc..) and the last thing he probably needs is me chasing him for his time. I also told him I’ve tried to be accomdating and even told him how I did my research on depression to further understand – I still like and care about him but I couldn’t do this anymore. He simply replied with “I understand” and that’s it. I feel a little relieved but sad too. Partly because it was in a text message but I suppose that’s the only way to go seeing how he doesn’t even have time to meet/speak etc… I really want to write him back with something that hints if he does want to make the time for me and is serious about making things work to get in touch with me but part of me tells me it’s probably a bad idea. I wish there was more closure but I suppose this as much closure I can get from someone going through what he is going through. I can’t help but think of the last time I saw him and gave him a big hug before we parted ways thinking that was probably the last time I’d see him. I really do wish him well…

  37. Hi Maria,

    There’s no easy way to break up with anyone, much less a boyfriend who is depressed! It may also be confusing for him, because you invited him to live with you, thinking it would help him. And now you’d like to make a clean break. Your boyfriend may be a bit confused about what’s going on.

    If he can’t contribute to a healthy, happy love relationship, then he may need time to get healthy. That’s how I would frame it if I had to break up with him. I’d say I like him a lot and even wanted to live with him to help him out, but it seems like he’s not in the right frame of mind for a relationship. I want to give him time to get healthy, to get some of the stuff off his plate.

    It’s important to remember that you can’t help a depressed boyfriend the way you’d like to. Him moving in with you won’t solve anything — in fact, it would stress your relationship further.

    He can’t give you what you need because he isn’t healthy. You’re not being selfish for breaking up with him. You’re being realistic — you want a healthy, happy relationship.

    If/when you break up with him, don’t encourage him to open up a bit more to you. That’s not fair. Why would you want to dive into his private world, then dump him? Men feel vulnerable when they share their feelings, and it would be painful for him and you if he shared his innermost thoughts only to have you walk away.

    I think the most tactful way to break up with him is to tell him that you care about him deeply, but you can’t be in a relationship with him. Be specific about why without tearing him down. Tell him you’re there if he needs a friend.

    I hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.

  38. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you for your response. I’ve been trying to tell myself he isn’t rejecting me and that he has a lot on his plate he can’t digest. At times this mantra helps but most of the time I feel like ripping my hair out. I don’t think this is how I should be feeling and since my last post have decided to talk it out with him and depending on how he reacts, break up with him. A clean break before I get in too deep.

    I’ve tried many things like offer him my home to stay for a few days. I thought it would be a good idea because his place is so small and messy and generally not healthy to be in. Plus I live closer to where he works. He was hesitant at first but then agreed to thought maybe it was a good idea. He suggested the week after and when that week came he kept postponing it. Then when I asked when he would be coming over he gave me a day but it turned out just to be a sleepover and not a few days which kind of defeats the whole purpose. His excuse was because he had to work early in the morning and we wouldn’t see much of each other anyway because of his long hours.

    The more I think about all the things I do to help him ‘ease’ his burden and just in general give him space and be ‘sweet’ or whatever, the more I think I don’t deserve this neglectful behaviour. All my friends have noticed a change in my behaviour since I got involved him. THey think his depression is making me depressed. As much as I’d love to stick around and be there for him, I should be selfish and think of myself first right? Thing is, I don’t know how to bring it up with him to break it off. I’d first like to talk it out with him. I even have a ‘game plan’ all mapped out from when I bring up the issue of his depression to how he feels now. Thought I could get him to open up a bit more then I in turn would open up about how I feel. Then I guess I’d take it from there. Is there any other ‘tactful’ way to do this?

  39. Dear Maria,

    It’s great that you’re researching ways to help a depressed boyfriend, and learning what it may feel like from his perspective! That’s never a waste of time.

    Remember that he isn’t rejecting YOU when he doesn’t return your texts or come over. He’s dealing with emotions and symptoms of depression that overwhelm him, and drain his ability to care about anything. You were very sweet and impulsive to text him, and he liked it! But his depression discolors everything.

    If you could do anything to help him, what would you do? What would helping him look like?

  40. I’m so glad I came across this site when searching for what to do when you’re dating a depressive. Unlike all the other ladies who’ve commented, I’ve only been seeing this guy for about 4 months and I really like him. We haven’t really classified our relationship as anything but we aren’t seeing anybody else.

    Anyway, under your ‘signs of depression’ you wrote “Depressed guys often mask their depression with workaholism or substance abuse.” and I think this both applies to my man. He works a lot to the point I rarely see him and when I do see him it’s after work late at night and that’s usually when he’ll settle down with a beer (or 4!) I wouldn’t say 4 beers after work at night is substance abuse but I’ve noticed that this is the only time we communicate – after work and after he’s had a few beers and is real chatty and up to do more things. In the morning, we hardly speak to eachother but then again I probably assumed it’s cause we’re both not morning people.

    He’s always tired, sleeps a lot, forgets things (which I sometimes take offense to when clearly I’ve told him more than once!) and when we don’t see each other we communicate usually via text. There are days he’ll reply a day or two late and most of the time he complains about how terrible he feels. He always complains it’s stressful at work but he also likes being busy so he doesn’t mind working double shifts. He has told me before he suffers from depression (and mentioned his mum is a depressive too) but according to him it’s not ‘as bad’ as it was before. He was on medication before but now he’s not. So the last straw which made me feel completely horrible was when I sent him a text message – it was basically a ‘come over tonight and let’s have fun’ kind of message but more explicit than my description of course! Anyway, he didn’t reply that night and the next morning I was so embarrassed I actually texted him about how embarrased I was! He surprisingly replied shortly after and told me not to be silly and that he found it sweet and kind of funny. Needless to say I’m still embarrassed by it and feel rejected by it that I haven’t actually contacted him since his last message. It doesn’t help that I’m on these pills that are really screwing my hormones up and feeling all sorts of emotions. It’s been almost 4 days now and he hasn’t bothered to get in touch with me either. I know I’ll probably be the one to get in touch with him first.

    It’s been a real emotional roller coaster and seeing how we’ve only been seeing eachother a few months it’ll probably be easier for me to break away. I do care about him and seeing how his depression has only gotten worse now the weather is getting colder, I feel even more inclined to want to help him. Aside from the time he told me he was a depressive and we shared a moment where he kind of broke down in tears over something that night, we haven’t really spoken about it. He doesn’t know I’ve been doing all this research about how to cope with dating a depressive do you think I should? Do you think 4 months is a bit soon to suddenly be like ‘I want to help and understand what you’re going through’ – or is it just not worth my time?

  41. Me and my boyfriend have been together for nearly 2 years and i love him so much. He is a fab boyfriend. He had lately started a new job and we have just move house, first time completely on our own, the new jon is a managers role for a huge company. He had never worked for a huge company before let alone the managers role and he is struggling. He comes home down and just goes to sleep all the time. He doesnt see his friends. He hardly talks. He doesnt want to have sex. When i see him at work he had a constant worried and stressed look. I just dont know how to help! I want him to be that fun, sexual person he was before! He works most days and we really only have one day off together every other weekend! He has got like thos before when we lived in a horrible house and it upset him. I just think he is sensitive! Has anyone got any ideas how i can help him. He used to go to the gy
    All the time and that has stopped, he has lost weight, he doesnt really eat much. So tricky to know what i should do?

    1. My boyfriend and I have been together for almost a year.. The chemistry and love is still going strong but he recently lost his job couple months ago and it’s been horrible on our relationship. We have planned future together marriage even had engagement ring molded and designed.. His depression is off and on since October.. We used to see each other everyday and now he has excuses for everything.. He couldn’t go a day without seeing me and up until last week we went 3 weeks without seeing each other.. We text but talking on phone went from every moment we had to nothing at all. He always só busy or to tired to talk on phone .. I have been through depression myself and when this happen he was always in my space and it annoyed me but I accepted it and it actually brought us closer together.. I’m at point I’m so confused I don’t know what direction to go in .. I want to support him and not leave his side but he won’t accepted my help.. He just closes himself off.. If I mention making any plans he just says idk… I suggest weekend aways to have fun and not stress he says idk… Seems always excuse which hurts me.. I feel like I’ve lost him . Last time I saw him he spent night and held me all night.. I had nightmare and he held me so tight and kissed me until I woke up and calmed down.. So réguardless what he’s dealing with I can see he loves me dearly but when he pulls aways I get so confused and insecure thinking he’s not interested.. Is this normal with depression ? He will make time for friends but not for me and that crushes me.. Recently I tried to get him to open up to me and tell me what he’s feeling because he won’t tell me what he’s feeling when he has his bad days. We recently got in bad fight I didn’t accept an apology from him and he got so upset by it.. So I confronted him so he could release some of the anger and stressed that he bottles up and I guess I made things worse.. I know at some points i get it out of him and he feels better after but this time around not so much… He is beyond pissed at me and was heartbroken to find out that he blocked me on his phone but not on social media.. He’s keeping close tabs on me through social media.. He’s never done this before nor did he say the relationship is over.. He just said I’m beyond pissed that when I’m at my worst I nag and don’t give him space but he never communicatea this with me. He just HIDes and ignore me instead of saying I need time to myself I will talk to u later.. It’s frustrating and hurts me he doesn’t feel he can open up to me.. So now the point I’m at is confused.. I don’t want games yet I know he’s dealing with depression and want to be by his side but it’s hurting me.. The few friends and family I spoke to about this say leave him u don’t need the stress and others say if u love him support him and this shall pass… I’ve never felt so much love for someone before I believe he’s My soulmate but his actions lately are making me so upset and so confused.. Is this all normal with depression to push loved ones away..? As much as this is hurting me I can’t seem to let him go something telling me to be patience and this shall pass.. Anyone else going though this and how do you deal with this? Does it get better?

  42. Lauren,

    It is so amazing how much we all have in common. As I read this post today I too have felt this way this past week. Weird but we also had a Chicago trip planned earlier this month and of course it didn’t happen for us. Chicago is one of our favorite places to visit. We have so many amazing memories there. Many of them are as simple as a walk down Michigan Avenue or a breathtaking view from our hotel room. I did decide to travel later that planned week to visit my best girlfriend about 3 hours northeast of Chicago. My best girlfriend knew how devasted I was and encouraged me to make this six hour visit so she could cheer me up. I did have a great time with her and in addition was undecided on a dinner invite the next day in Chicago. Made the decision to take the dinner invitation as I started my six hour drive home. Now this dinner invitation was with a male friend who i met about seven months ago and has continually been trying to gain my attention despite me not accepting his advances. (lol he is a retired pro athlete so very persistent and not used to this type of challenge). It was difficult for me to agree to this mentally. I felt as though I was cheating. It was just dinner, nothing was going to happen that i did not allow, and I was tired and a little hung over from my girls night so taking a break was probably a good idea. And, more importantly I was in and fighting for a relationship that really truly doesn’t exist :(. Dinner was nice. It was nice to feel wanted. Now, I don’t mean that to sound needy or as though it is necessary for me to have a man in my life at all times. Most definitely not. I am very independent and it scares most men. But what I do mean is I was so comfortable in my relationship that I really missed the companionship. I was not lost in this relationship. We both had our own lives. It was an excellent balance. But, I missed the both verble and nonverble sense of being made to feel attractive and the fact that someone wanted to spend time with me. i missed the smile on my face when i received a call or text. I had not had a relationship like this in such a long time or maybe even never. I think it was so good because of the “life lessons” that i like to call them had helped me mature and know how to have and/or be in a relationship. I had been feeling so confused about this “breakup” and overwhelmed with the rejection that I lost the sense of someone really wanting to spend time with me. Does that make sense??

    Sooo….point being going over this a trillion times will probably continue but hopefully at some point to a lesser extent because I don’t understand this “thing” completely and not sure I ever will. But, the fact is he won’t let me be a part of this to help me understand. And, I think that’s what hurts me the most. I read that the emotion and clarity is not there for him. But what I don’t get is there has to be some time when there is a moment of clarity and why doesn’t he use that strength to reach out to me and help me understand? How can he accept me being in pain like this? I don’t know. But what I do know and I am trying to accept is this depression is so much bigger than I can imagine. And, I am hurting myself by trying to hold on. I am not a bad person because I have needs and wants. That’s why in one of our last conversation and at that time I didn’t understand but he said he didn’t want to be a burden on me and I was such a good strong woman that it was so hard for him to let me go but there were better men out there for me. At this point he had convinced himself that he was protecting me despite my confusion and stressing to him that he was the one for me :(. So I to have to let go to more of an extent than I am ready for. I will still care and be supportive if he reaches out, but I have to be ok with accepting a simple dinner or movie date. I am not cheating on him :(. I am being healthy and living life. Because “life is too short” and I need to walk with my head held high with confidence….Camille

  43. I have been reading about all of your difficult situations in your relationships and thought i would share my difficult time as it is completely new to me and affecting me alot. Me and my boyfriend have been together 3 1/2 years and have always been very solid and like soulmates. We got a flat beginning of last year and he set up his own business as an electrician. Towards the end of last year his behaviour became more erratic and he would start coming home very late at night without telling me when earlier he would have phoned me to say he was coming home at such and such a time and then i would be trying to get hold of him and he wouldnt b picking up. He wasn’t handling his paperwork well and so he wouldnt b paid on time. Also 1 guy he worked for fobbed him off so he wasn’t paid. The estate agents wouldn’t renew our tenancy for a 2nd year as even though i am a nurse and i was paying my half of the rent on time he wouldn’t be paying his half on time.He never told me anything was up and he would be telling me everything was fine so i never thought otherwise. So we went to live at his dads for a while during which time me and his dad found out my boyfriend was addicted to cocaine seriously. We were trying to help him but he completely changed and pushed me away to the point where i had to leave as i was losing weight and sleep over it and nothing i would say would get through to him. We were apart for 4 monthes when he contacted me again and he was clean and got his business back on track. I had started seeing someone else as he was ignoring me and i truely thought we were over. However i still loved him so i gave him a second chance and stopped seeing this new guy.Everything was perfect and we were so loved up. Now 3 monthes on he has started behaving bad again. He has fallen out with his dad recently and his dad has kicked him out of his house, and his business is not as good. This past fortnight he has been ignoring my phone calls again. He will say that he will come and see me in the evening and then when he hasn’t turned up and i phone him he won’t pick up and won’t turn up either. He has developed depression now due to being homeless and having virtually no work. He was meant to see me this saturday evening after my work and the same thing happened again. When i contacted him sunday he said he was going away with his friend as his friends mum was helping him sort out somewhere to live. He said he would come back and see me tonight but when we spoke today he said that he wants to sort himself out by himself and that i will get in the way. He said that he loves me but he is not good for a relationship right now. Natuarally i am very upset and confused as before this we were fine. When i said to him that i want to be here to help him as i am his partner and iwant to b there for him he pushes me away and becomes angry with me when i havn’t done anything wrong. I am going to meet him after his doctors appointment tomorrow morning but now i don’t know where i stand and when i say this to him it just makes him angry. He wants to get himself better then he said we can be properly together but i am fed up as he did that when he was on coke. Why should i be pushed to 1 side and wait for him again when we should be sorting this out together. When i got back with him he was only having a second chance. Now i don’t know what to do. All i know is i love him and he loves me and we want our future together. But at the same time this is the second time he is wrecking my life and i don’t know if i can do it anymore. Any suggestions i would be very grateful for xxx

  44. Samantha, it sounds like he has experienced this before you said when he lived in the other house. Like I tell everyone do not self diagnose. From what I read so far sounds more like he is overwhelmed in his new job and new responsibilities.

    Be patient with him because you live with him and you will see his every behavior. I would start the dialoug with very open ended questions so you can understand exactly what he is feeling. Depressed men may have trouble expressing their emotions especially those with very high ego’s. Position yourself as a partner who will help not judge and this could be a simple fix. If he is not willing to talk then suggest a therapist he can speak to. Don’t try to fix this try to help him to find his own resolution.

    New jobs with more responsibility tests you and tests your strength. Praise him for trying to excel but let him know you are his partner and will love him through this. Good luck Samantha. Be patient and kind while he is discovering himself. Lauren Ashley….

  45. Sarah, first things first, chemical/drug addiction is a serious problem that is a classic symptom of depression. It seems like you have been running your life around his. Yes I believe in supporting your partner when they choose to help themselves. It seems like he is going to seek this help as you mentioned but truth, candor and sincerity are three valuable assets that are needed for you to navigate through this. You are a nurse that cares for people. This is probably why you opted to give him another chance. Your empathy is strong. You need to maintain a course here Sarah, and that’s the level of support you want to give. Is it better for you to separate yourself and allow him to get the help he needs then at his request you two can begin a future together? It is important that you remember that there are three people in your relationship, you, him and the addicted depression. Only you can tell yourself how you want to move forward.
    I appreciate my partners alone time because it has allowed me to gain my self esteem back and my strength and security in knowing who I am. I am a better person for granting the alone time. Yes I am sad many times but here this: adversity causes some to break but others to break records. My choice was to break records so basically I did not allow his depression to break me any longer.
    Stand tall and strong because a depressed man is a confused man and will not be able to have the kind if partnership you may be wanting.
    I love Laurie’s comments to me. Live an adventurous life and get to know you again. When he feels he is healed he may want to be a part of it if you are ready for that.
    Sarah, hold your head high because you are not weak. Depression chips away at you until you feel like you are part of it. You have to find your own way through this but remember you reached out to find support for yourself. I am a firm believer that you have the power to heal yourself from the toxic residue of being involved with a depressed soul but most important you do not have the power to heal him. That is up to him and him alone.
    Be confident in your choices and be fearless because you have to define what’s real and what’s an illusion. Mostly you have to define what you want in your own life before you let someone else control yours. Good luck Sarah, walk with confidence its far more attractive on a woman!! Lauren Ashley…

  46. Lauren,

    It is crazy how similar our situations are. I felt the same way in Chicago because we were recently there for Labor Day weekend and it was so hard for me to even walk down Michigan without reliving those incredible moments. As time goes I know that these type of things will get better (I hope).

    You said a couple things here that are really sticking with me. 1. I know that he is functioning because he has to. I am sure he is strong and confident when he is at work and with other people – so why not give me something, just a little bit? 2. Yes, we were the closet to them emotionally and physically – so how can he not include me in this process? 3. I do feel like after all that special time, that I don’t know and have no clue who this person was or is. That scares me. 4. It is clear that I am wrapped up in this depression and that is why I feel so needy, rejected and insecure. That is not the strong confident woman that I am and I don’t like that. This hurt me so much more than I can imagine and I don’t understand how he can let this confident, strong woman that he loved so much feel so much pain. That makes me angry and I don’t want to be angry. “Life is too short”.

    And, one of the last things that I am repeating to myself several times a day in this healing process is — I to was taught as well that for the people you care about that you always have their back (and they have yours as well). And, especially when that person you care about is in a time of need. This is an attribute that I am proud of and people know that about me if they are in my circle – they can always count on Camille. It’s something that I don’t even think about, it is a natural state for me. But you are sooo right I didn’t leave him behind….he left me behind :(. So being the same, I always showed him and told him I had his back….but the truth is he obviously doesn’t have mine :(….Camille

  47. Yes Camille I feel that he has turned his back on me as well. Funny thing is I have learned that the medication spirals you so bad that rational thought to you and I is easy to them it’s complicated and irrational. What you and I feel weighs very little to them. I saw my partner in the office yesterday and felt uneasy. It’s so hard to be in the same room casually talking because I just want to embrace him. I asked about his medication and he said that the fourth one is on is still throwing him into a roller coaster of thoughts. I couldnt take much more of this and yesterday I vented. I texted him that I wanted him to know precisely the hurt and pain his disease is inflicting on me. I told him that no matter the strong exterior in Chicago I cried my eyes out because I was supposed to be there with him. I told him holding nothing back that I didn’t know if my communication was hindering or helping him but it was causing me pain. He responded with wow ouch. WTF! I responded back with no ouch it’s hurtful because I miss him so much. I told him that I wanted to see him so I could communicate with him if it’s only a hug or a short visit I wanted him to work on it. He said Friday would be best. I said I would see him then. Now I could kick myself because after all I researched on this they are unemotional and anything I say about me and what this is doing to me has no bearing on his recovery. It’s not going to snap him out of this all it’s going to potentially do is create confusion. I was tired of stepping around my needs to communicate my pain. I said what I had to say and now I feel vindicated but yet still empty inside because he is not whole enough to fill my need for love and security. The strong man that I fell in love with is either in the deep shadows or never truly was there to begin with. I too remind myself everyday that he blocked me out of this process because he is lost not because of what I may have said or done. I think you and I became to close to the problem that they weren’t ready to face themselves. Not our faults. We both hold and hug and care for those who need us but our bitterness is no one is holding or hugging us through this because those close to us do not understand the disease. It’s a lonely feeling so I went back to the root and vented. Not sure yet if I will see him on Friday, I am not yet stable enough with overcoming the abandonment to face him. Path of least resistance is not the road that either one of us face. But is the reward for crossing this greater or is it an endless valley of depressed climbs. No answer to that one except my thought is we become calloused to the process and we to see abandonment as the best option for our own sanity. Who really knows. Lauren Ashley…

  48. Melissa,

    Yes I understand the torment and pain you feel that the man you planned a future together has become a brittle shell. It is that critical time for you to understand something, your love at the moment is not the same and the power of it is not enough to fix this. It is time for you to come to terms that this depression is severe and coupled with suicidal thoughts are most threatening. It is now the time for you to revise your own emotions and regroup under a supportive layer. It is hard to understand because you feel like the depression always wins over you and your emotions and valid feelings. Please do not be personal about this yet. Take the time to read everything and reach out where you feel confident. The people you know in your own support system will not get it and will protect you. You must come to terms with whether you can sustain your own emotional health while trying to be with this man you love. It will chip at your patience and steal your soul if you let it. You can’t face his demons eye to eye. He has to do that only when he is ready and only in his time. You do not have any merit at the moment and pushing and politely pressing any emotional triggers will hurt and set you back. Allow the time for him to heal. Suicidal thoughts are the top of the priority list. Any medications they prescribe for this level can have these tendencies multiplied so he is severe. Also know that the depression and medication they give can lose their sense of emotion. This is not at all uncommon. Praise him now for seeking the help but praise yourself that there are no children involved. That would be far more mentally challenging for you. You need to at this point find your own inner strength and stick to that path. I know I have wiped away my tears for two months now and I still begin to breath heavy and lose my breath when he crosses my mind. My partner has stopped communicating all together. I pressed him to tell him how the depression has hurt me and I can’t take it back but what I can do is allow myself a learning curve when he can’t navigate through his own emotions to even rationally process my words. I stress to you to speak to a counselor and write write write. You are now challenged with finding who Melissa is and just how strong Melissa can be with adversity. I am a firm believer in the phrase – adversity cause some to break others to break records. Which one are you? I chose to write and speak to the depression to help others like you. If there is a positive that comes out of my experience it is to help women find their strength through the disease. You will just stand tall. Some things are not meant to be fixed rather it is meant for you to build something better. You will hurt and cry at a drop of a hat but remember you are not the problem. It is bigger than the largest mountain and you can’t move that mountain alone. He will walk away at first site. He needs a village as they say but it first starts with him. Walk with the angels Melissa and please I know it’s hard but positive prayers will help guide you. Lauren Ashley….

  49. Thank you so much for the reply. There is so much I don’t understand about what he is really feeling and I only wish he would help me understand. I am confused on his loss of emotion and attraction for me because he has not started taking any medication and he does not plan on doing so. So I am scared that he simply fell out of love with me. He continues with his daily life, hanging out with friends and going to the gym, and I seem to be the only person he has shut out. So like all the other comments, it makes me feel insecure and needy. I feel like the floor has been pulled out from under me.

  50. Melissa, I can only speak to the depression struggles. The odd part of the second email is that he is resuming with friends and the gym. Generally the depression locks out emotion ties not to where they feel in control, ie high powered jobs etc that keeps their ego’s in tact. It’s hard to tell you the answer because at first glance with the mention of suicidal thoughts and the depression mixed with the counselor he may be thinking he can do this on his own. Depression is confusion and mixed with brain chemical imbalances. Rational thought is difficulty for these people who suffer and normal feelings and emotions the partners have tend to be insignificant. This is what causes the abandonment feeling you are experiencing. They tend to eliminate those that are closest to the struggle. I encourage you to write and journal your emotions. It’s a most difficult time for you because your sense of security has been abruptly taken from you. You have to decide how toove forward. I can tell you the support role is most difficult. It is not an easy journey. It’s one full of emptiness and hurt that is indescribable. It is the basic abandonment feeling but with no reasoning behind it because you will never get the real answers you seek. It is muffled with I can’t make heads or tails of my emotions. Trust in yourself first Melissa because a woman’s instinct is very strong but depression makes you like a child not understanding why this has happened. Be careful how you move here. Touch lightly if you need to talk. Write if you need to think. If he is not including you in the process reconsider your path. Like I said it is not the path of least resistance it is full of crappy climbs and valleys that are deeper than you ever imagined. You can and I assure you will lose yourself in the process and the hurt starts again. Life is valuable and so is your time. Be extra cautious on how you want to spend it. Lauren Ashley….

  51. Hello dears,

    I am in love with my boyfriend but i am very tired now very consumed i feel like i can`t deal with his problems anymore, i feel like i am dawning into a depression myself.. we have been together for almost 3 years now, his life was so difficult and affected him badly ( he is most of the time depressed doesn`t have friends AT ALL there are only 3 people in his life that he relies on his dad, mom and me, his hand and shoulder start to move in abnormal way shaky too, he speaks fast and some times very very slow , his memory is very weak, his personality is weak and have no confidence in himself and has the tendency to cry , he feels always rejected but never admitted.. i am really scared i don`t know what to do i feel like i want to walk away and end this relation but thinking about how bad this would affect him , i don`t know what is the right thing to do .. my dad passed away and i need support i need a positive happy person to get me through but unfortunately he can`t.. please advice do i stay miserable with him or leave him and live with guilt??

  52. Hi Sara, first I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. I know how difficult that is to lose your support system of your own.

    No one can tell you what to do exactly only you will know what is right. After many heartbreaks over my partners manic depressive tendencies it is with so much sadness that I feel that I am not the right woman for him. I love and care way to deeply to live with the volatility that this disease provides in a relationship. The sheer anger that these people have and their loss of rationality is devastating to a normal recipriprocal type of relationship.

    There is an outstanding resource for you. Please check this link out Sara because it is a journal of a depressed person with manic depressive tendencies where he documents his life for others to see how he deals with it daily. It is horrifying to see how they try to resume a normal life and in the end how much they struggle with the basics of life. It helped me to see how to respond to my partner and what to do and not do. I wish I read this before my partner separated himself from me because what I was doing to try to show I cared actually hindered the process to the point if no return.

    For you it is not there yet due to him still clinging to you as support. Be careful for the shakiness of his physical behavior as that is a sign of manic. You need to fully arm yourself with what you are up against and make the decision if it is right for you. I assure you once you learn all there is and more it will help guide you to see if this is life you want. It is not the life I chose for me.

    I encourage you to take this time for you and learn who Sara is. Don’t be afraid of this challenge because it is through adversity we learn our strengths.

    Let me know how you are. I know it seems like the world is caving in on you but truth is it is testing you and testing your soul. This disease will break apart even the strongest of people and a cripple a mountain but it’s up to you to not become part of the disease. Take a step back and assess this. Remember that life is full of choices and your path in life is what roads you choose for yourself now. You need to know that if it is indeed depression or bipolar mania than your road you choose will have many curves and hills. Walk in strength and know this is not your fault and it is solely up to him to get better. You will have to tred water for a while until you can navigate through the storm. Find out who you are. Lauren Ashley….

  53. I came across this article when researching about depression in relationships. It’s well written and a good resource, thank you.

    Even though it’s about boyfriends suffering from depression, I liked reading the comments to get the perspectives of the other person in the relationship. I’m female and undergo depression on an off. I’m at a breaking point in my relationship with my boyfriend.

    As someone who is depressed, it really is hard to control my rational thoughts and emotions. I feel hopeless, anxious, angry with myself and unfortunately those closest around me, like my boyfriend. I’m trying to get professional help, but it’s hard to get started. I’ve tried medication; however they didn’t work for me. I’m ready for other forms of treatment but often there are long waiting lists for group support or therapy sessions. I can’t afford help in the private sector.

    Until I find some outside help, I don’t know how to continue our relationship. When I’m depressed, I often want to end it, to push him away. I know I hurt him, and that’s why I want it to stop. I think for his sake it’s better that he moves on to normal, more healthy relationships and not have to deal with me and the negative energy.

    If he wants to remain with me, it would so helpful if my boyfriend could follow the advice in this article. He still is ignorant of depression, and say really insensitive things, like “don’t feel sad”.

    Openly showing how much you love that person can get through to them.

    I also hate communicating by text as Lauren Ashley mentioned above, because its easy for a depressed person to misunderstand, or interpret it negatively and such.

    Thank you for this article, and to those who shared their stories. I hope mine gives a little insight from ‘the other side’-a place often with no future and deep despair.

  54. As I read through all of these posts I feel my story is similar to most. I have been with my boyfriend for over two years and things have been good. We enjoy being together and seem very compatible. We have talked of the future and looked forward to similar dreams.

    This year has been tough for him financially and he has suffered a large financial loss, which also affects him providing for his kids in the way he would like and for us in the future. He is wrapped up in a legal battle with a business partner, hence the financial loss. A few months ago he pushed me away and told me he didn’t want to hold me back and wanted me to go on with my life and once all this settles in his life he will reach out to me. I told him I’m not going anywhere and that I’m here for him every step of the way. Finally we worked things out and he understands I’m not going anywhere. He says he appreciates that I never left and knows I’m always here for him.

    Lately the legal issues are heating up and he should be going to court in February. He is extremely stressed out and depressed. At times he says he doesn’t want to be around anyone and wants to be alone. He barely returns phone calls or text messages and it takes a few attempts before he responds. I’m trying to be supportive but the more he pulls away the more it hurts and I take it personally. He told me it’s nothing personal and it let him get through this. He doesn’t want me around because he says his moods are up and down and he doesn’t want to hurt me by saying something when he is anger or sad. He said he wants to spend time with me when he is in a better place and to let him get through this over the next couple of months.

    It’s so hard to not talk or hear from him. I start to think he is mad at me, doesn’t want me in his life, pulling away. When I tell him this he tells me it’s not the case, but it hurts.

    Is it normal for people depressed or stressed to pull away? Why don’t they want to be with people that love and support them?

  55. I’ve been reading the comments that have been posted on this website and it helps so much to know that there are other women going through the same thing I am and have the same exact feelings and I wanted to share what I’m experiencing. I have been with my boyfriend for over 3 years now and we are still a young couple but we were very much in love and have always planned our future together. He was the sweetest guy I have ever met and cared for me so much. In the beginning he was crazy about me and everything was so great. But over the passed 6 months my boyfriend’s mental health has been slowly getting worse with every passing day. A week ago was probably when he and our relationship hit rock bottom. He has been very depressed with suicidal thoughts and is a completely different person. I finally decided to call his mom and let her know how extreme his emotions really are and she called a counselor to get him help. He continues to push me away when I try to help him or talk to him about it. I have asked him about how he feels about us and our relationship and because the depression makes him feel so numb, he can’t feel any love for me. The worst part is that he doesn’t know if he doesn’t feel like he loves me anymore because of the depression, or if that’s just how he really feels. It’s gotten so bad that he told me if I died he feels like he wouldn’t care. I’m pretty much heart broken at this point and don’t know what to do. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  56. Camille, yes we do live very similar lives and the synergy between the two men that captivated us is eerily similar as well. Odd that we both had Chicago meanings! I have to tell you how my heart just felt so empty when I went to that pier. I couldn’t believe how much I actually dispised that feeling. It was like a slow drawing pang that didn’t let up until I actually flew home to Fort Lauderdale. I am glad that you went to dinner to feel like a woman should. There is nothing selfish you did actually quite the contrary. You are stepping out of the zone and beginning to live. This depression is a slow death because it strangles your very essence as a partner. I have become bitter and resentful that someone so strong could become such a weak passive man. It’s almost like there is a multiple personality happening. Since this alone time happened just over a month ago I have seen him twice in the office. The man at the office is strong and confident then after work out comes this man I have never met before. I was tempted to shake his hand and introduce myself and ask the next time he sees my friend please tell him I miss him and our friendship very much. I am with you on why can’t they find that ounce of clarity and when they do why don’t they reach out to us. This is what I struggle with so much. It’s not you or me Camille it is bigger and no matter how we try if they don’t include us in this process then who are they including and why not us because we were the closest to them physically and emotionally. Let’s face it this thing is a monster and we can’t make it go away they have to. Something crossed my mind thus business trip. It was quite simple, do I really want to be with someone that 1. Is not including me in this problem and 2. Do I really want to be with someone that has to have a medically induced state of mind to bd happy? I haven’t spoken to him since last Thursday and tonight my girls asked if he was feeling better. I told them he was still on medication and that I was hopeful he was. I sent him a quick text telling him the girls were asking about him and I wanted to see how he was doing. Then followed up with a voicemail asking the same. I did that because he was always so into texting rather than talking but this time I wanted to use my voice. No response. Not sure if I ever will but truthfully you can feel it when you know if someone wants you to be around them and I don’t feel that draw anymore. It’s more strange for me that I have to see him occasionally at the office but I am hardly there and when I am it’s a quick jaunt. I wish I didn’t see him anymore so I too could put more closure on this. Letting go is the only alternative so I am not wrapped up into his depression which causes me a great deal if insecurity. I pray every night and inude him in those prayers but my first prayer is to release my pain and to help me understand who I am and what I want from a partner. My family always taught me you don’t leave someone behind that needs you but truth is he left me behind.:( Lauren Ashley…..

  57. Hi friends do I have a super cool thing to share. My friend is still in his alone time dimension and I am busy being me. Traveling for business took me to Chicago this week. Ouch it really hurt because he was supposed to take me there last weekend for a getaway to where he felt like a kid again. After he mentioned it to me about taking us never again spoke about it until he apologized last Thursday about not going. Anyway, I decided to skip away from the group of 400 and take a cab ride alone to the Navy Pier where he said he wanted to take me. At first my heart felt like exploding but I was sure to take pictures and post on FaceBook that I was there without him anyway. As I was walking with each step my heart grew heavier. I was so sad trying to understand why this depression separated me from him in such a quick way. I have been over this a trillion times and realized again that letting him go is the best because if he isn’t going to include me then guess what, it isn’t worth my heartbreak. As I am thinking of him and pondering on what it would have felt like to be there with him, I stopped by the waters edge. There were thousands of people there walking to see the upcoming fireworks and I stopped and trying to catch my breath from missing him I looked up and believe me I saw a white feather floating down from the sky. I extended my hand out and this flawless white feather landed in my hand. I caught my breath and couldn’t believe that at that exact moment it drifted right into the palm of my hand. I googled that right away and it actually comforted me at that moment saying it was from guardian angels watching over me telling me to catch my breath and that everything was going to be alright. I knew at that moment that although this deep heartache of pain I sometimes feel myself losing my breath. Since Wed evening I started to breath in deeply and exhale deeply when I feel he is crossing my mind. It helps but it hurts too. I know that im not alone and that maybe through his confusion and sickness his angels are sending me a message of thanks for caring so much or maybe it’s my angels saying woman you did the best you could and it’s time to let him go. I don’t know but I am certainly breathing a lot more than I did before. I did buy him a coffee mug from Chicago and I will put it on his desk at work for no other reason than see I an an independant strong beautiful woman that can be adventurous and live. Lauren Ashley…..

  58. Angie, your letter stuck out to me for a few reasons. One is that you do love this man. Sometimes love is not big enough to make up for what you are missing. That is a true partnership where the love and care is reciprocal. If you truly love this man you have to let go of the control a little. You are the one piloting this relationship. If you pull back and regain your self confidence then there should be less tension around your visiting. I bet you are a strong courageous bold woman and those are great and admirable qualities to have. If depression is what he truly has then when he is ready to reach to you he will. We, I mean women of the depressed partners, become do critical of ourselves and insecurities build up where we least expect it. I know it is never easy to take a step back to re-evaluate but it is like you are being forced to without your will. We become comfortable very quickly then when the depression sinks in its hard to find your balance. The best and most thoughtful advice I can give is to allow the time process to happen and you get stronger and rebuild. You can love and support in other ways then banging at the front door which I have done and unequivocally regret. Learning lessons are the hardest when it is at the expense of your heart but trust me roads are broken for a bigger purpose. My problem was my friend was weak when we began seeing each other after a three year friendship. I knew he was struggling but I kept believing with the right love and care he would become whole. It doesn’t make him whole all is does is potentially enable him then they use you as a crutch until they know they have to do this on their own. I didn’t realize that until I believe it may be too late. I set him free and in my heart was the right thing to do but it hurts more than any pain you can experience. I know if it is meant to be then it will be but for now it is guided by something a lot bigger than. Trust in yourself and know that you should never have to ask anyone how they feel about you. If it is right then you will know. Going against the grain is where you are feeling these hurts and pains. Stay strong and be a woman that commands respect and love will find you. Pick up some new hobbies and keep your mind healthy. That’s what is more attractive. Lauren Ashley….

  59. Dear Lauren,

    It’s so frustrating and sad when an illness like depression has such a negative, strong effect on a relationship! I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression – and thank you for sharing about it here. Your experience will help others, and show they they’re not alone.

    I think one of the best ways to cope with your boyfriend’s depression is to take care of yourself. Like you said, you can’t fix his depression – no matter how much you love him or how emotionally connected you feel to him.

    The only thing you can do is become as emotionally and physically health and strong as you can. I think the reason you haven’t found the proper solution to helping a partner with depression is because there is so little you can do…the best way to help him is to be as healthy as possible yourself.

    I encourage you to create a life that is interesting, fulfilling, fun, creative, and adventurous. You need to figure out what kind of woman you want to be, what kind of relationship you want to be in, and where you want your life to go. If your boyfriend can be involved, then that’s great!

    But you need to be realistic — I think you need to decide if you can live with him exactly the way he is right now, depression and all. If it’s too much for you, maybe you need to start thinking about your future.

    It’s such a tough position to be in…you don’t want to abandon someone you love because he’s depressed. On the other hand, you need to be in a healthy, happy, growing relationship!

    I wish you all the best as you find the balance between supporting your boyfriend and staying true to yourself. It sounds like you are a strong, smart woman who knows when something is beyond her control…and who knows how to take care of herself.

    Let me know how things are going…and remember that you can support your boyfriend even if you’re not in a romantic relationship with him. Maybe he just needs time and space to settle his emotional and mental health, and then he’ll be ready to be a healthy partner.


  60. I am just like everyone else struggling to find answers on this depression and how to “fix” it. I have finally realized that I can not! It actually feels good acknowedging that I finally cant do something I want and pray so hard to do. First, my boyfriend and I have been friends for 3 years before we started to date and get emotionally close about 8 months ago. Let me begin by first saying that my boyfriend is a professional 47 year old male that caught my heart when we first met. I cant explain the connection but it was solid and strong. I was married and he was involved with what would begin this depressed state. She cheated on him numerous times, had a VD, no career or stability, and the final straw was she aborted what he believed was his child. We began talking and eventually started to date. I have two children and going through a divorce which had nothing to do with him. I noticed many off’s and some very high peaks and very low valleys. After 4 months of wondering why the odd behaviour patterns he finally confessed his depression to me. I decided to embrace it and continue to see him, although it became evident that he would tell me lies about going out of town when he would be locked up in his house. There was NO sex ever but an occasional passionate kiss that he would give me in a spontaneous and strange way. We would lay naked next to each other and we would hold each other but never any sex which became a big topic of discussion and discovery for me. I found some Cialis pills in his overnight bag so I kept hope that these pills were his attempt to begin a passionate intimacy as well.We spendt weekends away together and nothing but a its not yet right tone. Well I couldnt be more wrong. When I approached the subject he became tense and almost very ego controlled. He said that if I hold this over his head he would back away. I told him I heard the warning and that I was perfectly good with letting that part of our relationship mature natrually. Honestly I am a sexual woman and I am also an understanding partner as well but the depression has now interferred in my life causing me to become highly hyper sensitive to him almost putting my universal beliefs on hold to continue to see him. I became an enabler by cooking for him and cleaning and laying next to him to hold him. The hardest day was watching him drink on the weekends. He would drink massive amounts and become a fast talker and say things that I wished he would say sober, such as, I can be a great dad figure to the girls, I am thinking about finding a bigger place so we can live together to trips he convinced me he was taking me to. Each time I felt like I was not getting the verbal words I needed to continue to see him and told him I needed these affirmations. I was watching him lethargic to staring at the TV to being a hyper drunk. His peaks and valleys became as high as heaven and a low as Hell. Last week he told me another lie that he was going out of town butwhen I noticed his distance I called and asked him what he was feeling. He said he finally decided to take the medicines to regulate the Seratonin and that he needed to pull back from everyone and allow himnself the alone time to heal right. I was SO hurt that he did not include me in this and I have been crying for the whole week. He texted me to say that he wanted to say hello but I ignored it. Then I finally responsed to a Face Book comment he made about some pictures I posted and we chatted briefly until I finally texted him to call me. He said he had demons still and cant talk. I told him I would love him through this but it is way bigger than me! I dropped off a care package to his door for him during this alone time and he texted me that he appreciated the package and also to thank me for understanding that he needs this alone time. I told him I would grant him this time and that I would provide encouragement for him during this dark period. I have found that seeing someone with this depression/bipolar disease is one way to truly test my own strength. I do not want to walk away or perhaps his request for alone time for the medicine to work perhaps is the end but I wish on every angel and every star in the sky that he can find his way. I feel helpless and care so deeply about him even without having the physical sex it was the emotional intimacy that I held in such high regard. I have read so many books and studied on how to help with this disease from a partner perpective but have yet found the proper solution to help other than granting the alone time. I have texted positive words and vocalized how much I believe in him. I am afraid this depression is winning the battle. Do you have suggestions from the “otherside” of a depressed partner? I would SO value any feedback. I read all the posts and this disease is clearly nondiscrimating for any age. I really do love him and believe in my heart that love heals but this one all it does is pulls him further away. Thank you!!

  61. Hi Laurie,

    Come cross your website and I like very much, I will like your professional advices on my recent break up…

    Two week ago, my depressed boyfriend broke up with me by email, basically he told me he cannot focus anything now, and he wants me to move forward… he told me he has enjoy our time together and adore me as person… and do not loss me as a dear friend…

    We met online 15 months ago, he seems happy in general in life, it was very sweet relationship, we both in our 40s( I am 43 and he is 45), never married, and both want a LT relationship. Everything was fine until 3mo ago, we have little misunderstanding, that he told me that he is not sure of our relationship, need some space to figure out his life, and he have made appointment with his therapist want to figure out something as well, and a week later, he told me it is not about me, he was stress out and need figure out with his career direction and life in general… I know he is not happy about his life, as he have some tough times last 4-5 years, even he have a comfortable life, but few big things happened to his life (such as survived cancer, ex GF left, and lost his business) …then last year in Feb his rental house got flooded, it was very stressful to him, and until now still dealing with insurance company….spend lot time and money…
    following 3 mos things seems getting better BTW us, he become more affection…I was trying to give as more space to him too, I booked trip to visit my parents in Asia in Dec 2011, he was so sweet, we texted and Skyped , he even met my sister and parents through skype, I thought things will get back normal again BTW us. I really want to move our relationship to next level.. but when I come back one week later in end of dec, he start showing little distant again, he told me that he is not sure if he can handle relationship at this moment and he want be alone, also told me he is struggling lot of basic things in his daily life(such as sleep), also he mentioned few things that he is not happy with our relationship, I thought it is very minor things… at that time, I realized he might in a more serious depression state than I thought, and I told him that don’t make any decision before we talk with his therapist, but 2 weeks ago he send me break up email, as he could not face me, and he felt guilty to hurt me…

    Look back this relationship, I thought our relationship is sweet loving relationship, maybe not most passion one(crazy one), but we care and love each love, and we both adore each other as patner…even he never told me “love” ( I just told him that I falling love with him 3 months ago by email, when we have a little misunderstanding ) we have been spending every weekend together, he was always very sweet to me.. I am inexperienced with depression, I thought he was in more passive side, but giving his tough time last few years, I always try to cheer him up…I just realized now, he have been always depressed, but last 4-5 months became more deep, he always tell me that he felt he is loser… ( he used have a success business in mortgage business), and he felt guilty that he cannot be a loving and caring BF last few months, not interesting with intimacy in our relationship… I felt depression have made him not able to see the future with his life and with me… maybe I am wrong,… I have been put his needs beofre me for some time, as I know he has stresssful time, maybe he has take me for greanted?…

    Despite I was sad and disappoint his decision, I sent a nice and encourage email back to him, told him that I accept to move on, and be a friend with him, he wrote back and thanks me be so supportive, and happy I want be a friend with him and will talk with me soon.. Miss me…

    Now I am wondering, do you think there are hopes BTW us, I really hope we able to be back together soon, but now we are not talk with each other, as I want to give him space, also to give some space to myself… do you think he want to back to me when he feel better, should I be friend with him now? Or give him all the space? Or to move on?? If he call me, what I should talk about…

  62. hi there. okay so my boyfriend and I have been together for 10 months we are so in love.
    but he has depression and he won’t take medicine or get professional help.
    whenever he gets depressed I tend to get sad and don’t know what to say to make him feel better.
    so I kinda just ignore it and sit there or tell him I have to go.
    therefore he goes to other girls to make him feel better.
    he is getting sick of me not being there for him.
    I want to be there for him but I just don’t know what to say.
    if I keep this up he is going to be forced to leave me and find someone who can make him feel better.
    I can’t lose him he is my dream guy and I never felt this way for someone before.
    do you know what I could say or do to make him feel better when he is down?
    please help

  63. Dear Laurie, I have every reason to believe my very good friend (Jim) suffers from depression – all the classic signs. For the first time 3 weeks ago, he said he thought he was depressed. I told him I had thought this for quite a while and nicely suggested that he get professional help – that this does not make him any less of a man and that it could turn his life around and added that there is nothing wrong taking a little pink pill, which might only be for a short time, depending on the situation. His response was he preferred taking a little yellow drink. A week later, he met w/one of his guy friends who said it was not depression – simply natural to be feeling the way he does b/c nothing is going his way. Jim has been in a dysfunctional marriage for 14 yrs, has a daughter who was suicidal last Spring, has not met his professional expectations, has problems meeting deadlines at work, has gained weight, sleeps when he can, to name only a few. Last Friday for the first time in months he was extremely manic, but it lasted only until the following day. He was otherwise a very supportive, kind & loving friend, but recently that has changed and he can be rather cold and hurtful in his words to me, except for last Friday, when I had the old Jim back. I try to understand that this is just the depression talking, b/c I know the person that he otherwise is. In an email again today, I told him if there is anyone who cares about him most and his well-being, it’s me and that I firmly believe he is depressed. I have a friend who works in the psychology field and even has offered to talk with him via phone. Jim’s response was that he would see how he is by the end of the month. In the meantime, his depression has put a real strain on our friendship and it hurts me. I told him that I felt his depression was the core of our issues & other issues in his life, along with ADD, which his kids also have. Told him depression clouds, confuses & masks emotions, feelings, desires, wants & needs. I don’t know what else I can do. Any thoughts, Laurie? Whatever you can offer would greatly be appreciated. Most sincerely, Christine

  64. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Holding On,

    Thank you for sharing about your boyfriend’s depression and how it’s affecting your relationship. Wouldn’t it be easier if he just said it’s over and left you alone?!

    I can’t tell you what to do, but I can offer some objective feedback. Rather, I have a few questions that it might be helpful to consider.

    Are you staying in this relationship out of guilt or fear?

    Can you “abandon” another adult? That is, how much responsibility can you take for another adult human being?

    How much do you know about this man, after 3 months of long distance dating?

    Is he dealing solely with depression, or are there other mental health issues involved?

    Why doesn’t he have anyone else — why doesn’t he trust anyone?

    I think there are a few red flags in his behavior and lifestyle, and I think your desire to be a kind person is getting in the way of your objectivity. I also think your desire to be in a relationship (which is a very healthy and normal desire!) may be affecting your judgment.

    You aren’t responsible for making sure this man is healthy or happy, or even safe. I don’t think he’s deliberately mistreating you, but I do think it’s a dangerous situation to be in. It concerns me that he has nobody else in his life — I think that’s a major warning sign of an emotionally unstable person.

    If I were you, I’d make sure he has access to help (which it sounds like he does, if he’s taking medication), and gently ease out of the relationship. I’d take his calls once a week — perhaps arrange a standing “phone visit” once a week. Make sure he’s doing okay, and that he knows you’re available to talk once a week.

    And I’d move on. (ouch!)

    That’s just me, though…you need to do what your heart and mind urges you to do. Please don’t ignore your instincts, and pay attention to those red flags. Think about the questions I’ve raised.

    Also — I think you should pay very close attention to the fact that you feel lost and confused in the beginning of a relationship. You need to untangle your genuine concern for another human being from your best interests and desires for your own future.

    I hope this helps…let me know how you’re doing, what you think, what you decide.


  65. Hi Laurie, not sure if this thread is still alive, but I am lost and confused. My boyfriend of 3 months has recently told me he has depression. We’re not kids, I’m 43 and he’s 39, and to add to this complication we don’t live in the same state! He contacts me every day – it’s been short but a very intense 3 months.

    He is on medication and he is taking positive steps to help himself. Over the last 2 weeks though, he has withdrawn and unravelled alot. He keeps telling me, half of him wants this relationship and the other half doesn’t know. So whenever I open the door for him to end things and say, so that’s it? he says NO, it’s not that cut and dry. I back off and he chases me. Then he tells me again he’s not sure he can “do” a relationship right now on top of everything he is trying to deal with.

    Again, i say I totally understand. so take the time to work things out and let me know when you’re ready. Then he calls me everyday as if nothing has happened. Says sorry he had a bad day, or don’t freak out when is say I don’t want this, I’m very self absorbed at the moment. Then he’ll call me the next day and say I can’t drag you into this. Again, I give him space and understand and say let me know when you work it out and then he calls the next day again as if everything is ok. It’s a real rollercoaster.

    So I am torn, torn between being understanding and supportive of his depression, knowing how it does complicate and mess up his feelings, or am I just being a patsy? Under normal circumstances if I am with a guy who says he doesn’t know if he wants a relationship, then I walk away then and there and say, bye – call me if you figure it out.

    I care for him deeply and could even fall for him in time, but am I just being mistreated by a guy and hanging around because of his depression or is it his illness that is making a mess of this? I am there 110% to support him but I don’t want to be used as a crutch until he gets better then I become expendable. Every time he calls my first reaction is this is it, the break up call. I’m a very strong and supportive person but even I can take only so much. However he has no family, he told me he’s all alone, has no-one and trusts no-one. If I leave him now, I’m just added to the list of those that have abandoned him.

    Do I give him the time and continue to support him, or do I just get out now? I don’t want to add to the pressure he’s under by giving him an ultimatum, but I’m living on the edge myself now. I really am lost and confused.

  66. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Lara,

    I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression…it’s such a difficult thing to deal with, for both you and him!

    One option is for you to give him some time and space. Tell him you’re available if he needs to talk, and let him approach you. If a predetermined amount of time passes (which you’ve set in advance, such as six weeks or three months — whatever you decide is reasonable according to your personality and lifestyle), and he’s still incommunicado, then it might be time to give him more “formal” space. Take a break from the relationship.

    Another option is to call a counselor or depression help line, and see what they say. Talking it through with someone in person can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to figure out how to respond to a depressed boyfriend.

    Also, learn as much as you can about depression and how it affects relationships. The more information you have, the more you’ll understand your boyfriend.

    It’s really important not to stay in a relationship out of guilt or a misplaced sense of wanting to help someone who can’t be helped (except professionally, by a doctor or counselor). You probably care for or even love your boyfriend…but if he has serious emotional health issues, he needs to work through them before he’s ready for a healthy relationship.

    I hope this helps…I’m sorry I don’t have any real answers for you! This is one of those delicate, difficult situations that love relationships bring.


  67. I dont know if anyone is still reading this thread but i really need to talk to someone who understands what i am faced with currently. My boyfriend of 9 months appears to be suffering from depression. He has not sought medical support but the symptoms seems common with everything i have read. He is listless, non communicative and is searching for “meaning in his life” while “wanting space”. I can understand the situation rationally but the more difficult thing is what to do. Do i give the space and allow days on end to go by with no contact or do i show my support of what he is going through by constantly checking in with him? I really do not want to abandon him during a time when he probably needs love and support but most of my actions are met with little or no reaction. if you have any advice, please let me know.

  68. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Christina,

    I’m sorry to hear your boyfriend is depressed; that’s a tough way to start a new relationship!

    The first thing I encourage you to remember is that love and serious commitment takes time. I totally understand all those initial feelings of falling in love, but after being married for years, I’ve learned that deep, true love takes a long time to develop. I don’t mean to make light of you and your boyfriend — just to remind you that “love” isn’t always fun, romantic, easy, or even all that thrilling!

    I don’t think you should pursue your boyfriend, or go to his place too much. I like your second option better: take a step back, give him space, and let him figure out how to get healthy.

    The difficult thing about new relationships and depression is that he may not be in the right headspace to fall in love and commit to a healthy relationship. Depression is a serious illness, and needs serious care. If he’s not emotionally healthy, he may not be able to give you what you need, emotionally or otherwise.

    I encourage you to call a depression help line and get information about how best to help your boyfriend. The more you learn about depression, the better you’ll understand him…and the more realistic your expectations of him will be.

    Remember that who he is now won’t likely change — so I encourage you not to expect him to be different. He may miss other celebrations and holidays, gatherings with friends, or even coffee or lunch dates. He may deal with bouts of depression regularly, which will affect his relationship with you. If you can accept that this is who he is, and this is who he may be for years to come, then you and he are better able to build a strong, healthy relationship!

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best.


  69. I’m not sure if this thread is still active, but came across it today… I’m in a fairly new relationship (about 2.5 months), but we’ve both already fallen and are quite serious…
    My question and concern, is that my bf suffers from depression… he was very open about it from the start but had been controlled-he sees a counselor, takes meds, etc, but over the past week he has been suffering another bout of depression (first time i’ve ‘witnessed it’)… He says he doesn’t know what triggers his depression, and has assured me that it has nothing to do with me and he doesn’t want to lose me….

    I am trying to be there for him and supporting him in any way, but have never been close with someone with depression… He spent almost 4 days in bed doing nothing (including my 30th bday when I didn’t get to celebrate with him)….He did let me see him yesterday, and things were good but I felt as though he was a little distant, and there was not as much closeness and no sex drive, which i know is normal with depression, but hard in a new relationship!

    I guess what I’m wondering, with this being new and him trying, but having trouble being open about how he’s feeling etc, do I try and force myself and almost make him see my by going to his place, or take a step back and give him space? Again, while he’s said this has nothing to do with me or our relationship, it’s hard to sit and watch this.. i feel almost helpless and I miss my boy!

    I think just writing and ‘ranting’ is helpful in itself, but any advice/thoughts/feelings would be much appreciated!!

  70. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Cynthia,

    Influencing your husband to do things that make him feel better — and help lift his depression — depends on so many factors! Different people are influenced in different ways, which means you may have to experiment with different things to find what works.

    For instance, you could ask him to go walking, biking, swimming, etc with you. He might be more inclined to exercise if he has a reason. Or, you could sign up for a couples massage class or dance class, to get you both out of the routine.

    Positive reinforcement always works better than criticism. It’s more effective to celebrate the good choices he makes (exercise, chores) than to nag him about the things he should be doing. I’m not saying you criticize or nag — don’t get me wrong! I’m just throwing some ideas out there…

    I think the most important thing is to get help for yourself. The more emotionally and spiritually healthy you are, the more clearly you’ll be able see if and how you can help your husband overcome his depressed feelings….and the more clearly you’ll see your marriage as a whole. Talking to a counselor, pastor, or someone objective that you trust can help you figure out how best to help your husband, yourself, and your marriage.

    Another option is to join a support group for family members of people with depression, or read books about helping depressed loved ones. The more you learn about depression, the better you’ll be able to cope with both your feelings and your husband’s.

    I hope this helps, and wish you all the best.

    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post …How to be Lucky – 10 Ways to Get Luckier in Life and Love =-.

  71. I need some advice. About two years ago I noticed a change in my husband’s behavior after he lost a job when the restaurant where he was employed went out of business. For months, he sat around watching TV all day, wasn’t sleeping at night and gained a lot of weight. He started having high cholestorol problems and was diagnosed with a fatty liver.

    Prior to this he had been an outgoing, happy person. But now he has withdrawn from friends and extended family. Other symptoms that began to manifest were rage to the point of throwing chairs around the house and punching holes in the walls and the perception that family, friends and strangers were ‘out to get him.’

    At the time, I didn’t associate any of this with depression. We lived this way for about six months before I decided it wasn’t going to go away by itself and it was negatively impacting our life and the lives of our two children. So, I began to go to a counselor to help me cope. I kept thinking that maybe there was something I could do to help him get better. He would go to counseling with me sometimes but he would always say (and still says) that he didn’t believe anything they told him and that there was nothing wrong with him. One common thing he says all the time now is that no one is going to make him change the way he thinks. The problem with that is that the way he thinks now is paranoid. He doesn’t trust anyone and says everyone is just trying to screw him over. He can find all kind of hidden meanings in just normal situations and things that people say.

    After six months to a year of counseling, he finally went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with depression. He’s been seeing the same psychiatrist for almost a year but he refuses to take the medication that is prescribed and still denies that he has any kind of problem at all, depression or anything else. The number of angry episodes he has has decreased in the last six months, as has the severity, but they still happen about 3 to 4 times per month and he just seems to refuse to want to do anything to help himself get better. He did join the gym in February and that seemed to make him feel better, thereby making his mood swings a little better. But, he’s starting to slide backwards again and won’t go to the gym in the past couple of weeks.

    What I need advice on is how to deal with him since he seems to be in denial. Remember, he says there’s nothing wrong with him, that it’s everyone else who is doing this to him. Since he doesn’t believe there’s anything wrong with him, or that he might be depressed, he won’t take medication. When he’s in his episodes, he says that he wants to leave the country (he’s from another country) and go somewhere where no one knows him so he can start his life over.

    I’ve tried adapting my behavior in different ways to his episodes to see what might help in dealing with this situation, but have not found that there’s any one way to be to make things better for him or for me. At his last episode five or so days ago, I just decided that our marriage may not last much longer and it’s probably for the best. However, once he got out of the bad mood, or whatever it was after the last episode, he said he doesn’t really want to leave me, his extended family or his children. I know he had a rough childhood and that feeling abandoned probably contributes to his depression but he puts up a huge wall as his defense system and I’m at a loss as to how to get through to him.

    So, what can I do? I don’t know if the medication is the answer, but since he won’t take it how can I convince him to at least try it? And I know he noticed that he feels better when he does things like exercise, stay busy with household chores, etc., but he won’t maintain doing those things. Does he want to feel bad? And, if so, how can I influence him to change that?

  72. Good useful info Laurie. I just want to add two things that might be helpful. One is that depression isn’t always a bad thing. If a person can see it and not get lost in it or become it, it can actually be a time of turning inward, reflecting and reprioritizing in life – so perhaps the parnter is just doing that. Of course, if it lasts longer than a month, then it could be clinical depression.

    The second thing is for the partner of the depressed person: it’s easy to match other people’s energy and moods, particularly when you live with them, so it’s helpful for you to consciously have your own energy and mood, and not feel you have tone down to match your partner.