4 Keys to Supporting a Person with Depression or Anxiety
It's not about you. Possibly, the most important way a person can help their partner work through depression or anxiety is to understand that he/she is neither the cause nor the cure. Partners often take on too much and when the other person is struggling it can be easy to take responsibility for the other person’s feelings. To avoid this, it may be necessary to seek support from friends and family, an outside party like a counselor/therapist, church member or even support groups/organizations like NAMI.
I can't HELP it!!! My favorite question is, "How can I support you in this?" Often, there is nothing you can do to "help" and the word "help" can make the other person feel weak, needy or deficient. After you ask if there is support that you can offer, allow your partner some space. Remember that you cannot "fix" if for him/her.
What do you need to know? We would all do well to educate ourselves. Each person is different and his or her diagnosis is unique to the person. However, it is important to know something about your partner's diagnoses. What are the symptoms? What are the triggers? What does your partner need to feel supported? What do you need to feel supported? How may this impact your children?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. There are lots of tools to improve communication, which is often the key to working through most issues. Too often, people only try and work through issues when the problem is causing stress but it is typically best to work on things when the symptoms are under control.