Depression and low mood: A guide for partners

Good relationships are important to good mental health but so often the partners of people dealing with depression and low mood are overlooked.  A new and innovative resource seeks to change this with practical tips for partners to help their loved ones while protecting themselves along the way.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, a provider of mental health and disability services and the relationship research charity OnePlusOne, joined forces to create an interactive downloadable booklet, ‘Depression and low mood: A guide for partners’. This partnership of experts has decades of experience, which means that each section of the booklet and the accompanying videos are steeped in evidence-based research and science.

This project aims to help people:

  • understand why quality relationships are one of the most important factors in health and wellbeing
  • identify the difference between low mood and depression
  • recognise and help with the range of symptoms that a depressed person may experience

Daily mood changes may be felt more acutely in a couple relationship than anywhere else. Gloomy thoughts see people withdraw from all kinds of social situations, leading to isolation and confusion. Due to poor communication about the issues, partners often blame themselves and may experience poor health as a result. If left unchecked, depression can become a vicious cycle, getting worse for everybody involved as it spirals out of control.

‘Depression and low mood: A guide for partners’ explains how depression can affect a relationship, and offers practical tips on how to stop the confusion and blame cycle. It avoids leading a partner into being overprotective yet shows clearly how to help break the cycle of depression.

People are already accessing this valuable resource as part of their own self-help work or alongside more traditional medical support. It has also been recommended by a range of mental health practitioners.

Dr Carole Kaplan, Director of Transformation, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, said: “This is an innovative and evidence based resource which is accessible to anyone who needs support.  We hope that this guide will go a long way to help partners of those who are struggling with depression by offering advice on the effect depression can have in a relationship.  The guide also offers suggestions on how you can support your partner, help yourself and work towards improving your relationship.”

Penny Mansfield CBE, Director of OnePlusOne, said: “Living with a partner who is struggling with low mood or depression can be tough. Yet, supporting one another through tough times is what we expect from our relationships. It can be challenging to work out what’s best for your partner and for you.

In this simple guide we focus on common worries such as: Am I over-reacting? Am I making it worse? How do I get help for my partner? The guide brings research on relationships and mental health to life, by offering practical tips on how to cope and when to get some extra professional help.”

Jenny Edwards CBE, Chief Executive of Mental Health Foundation, said: “The people we are closest to can be the greatest help when we are experiencing depression or other mental health problems. Yet often they are not sure if they are doing or saying the right thing. This clear and thoughtful guide will give people confidence to help their partner at a difficult time”