What I learnt while supporting my partner with depression 1. Getting a diagnosis is not always the solution When you find out that your romantic partner has been experiencing mental health problems, what’s the best course of action that can be taken? There is no right answer but creating a safe space for your partner to open up about their feelings is one of the easiest and most important things you can do. In many cases, that would have a significantly positive impact on their conditions. For a more serious case, however, you would have to consider seeking professional help, in addition to being a listening ear.
So, what would you expect to get from accessing psychological services? For me, it was getting a diagnosis for my partner, so we could understand exactly what was happening to them and what we should do to relieve their symptoms. It’s something you would normally do when you catch the flu or other physical conditions - you consult your GP, you’ll come back with a clear diagnosis, and you’ll eventually get better as long as you follow your GP’s instructions. I thought that getting a diagnosis would show us a clear path to recovery.
It wasn’t that simple. Yes, we did find out that my partner has been suffering from mild to moderate depression. This has helped them realise that what they were going through was not their fault, or something that can be easily remedied. It has also helped them apply for extenuating circumstances, which has significantly reduced their stress levels. However, coming from an Asian background where the stigma of depression is more apparent, the relationship between my partner and their family has become strained after telling them about their condition. In addition, they started to look up things related to depression on the internet, which led to them catastrophising the condition (for more information on catastrophizing and other cognitive distortions, please turn to page 20.
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