Supporting a partner starting anti-depressants
I hope everyone is well. Any thoughts would be wonderful.
I've been dating my partner for a year and we are new and shiny in many ways. He is not comfortable being vulnerable - we nearly ended very early on, when I assumed he wasn't very interested. When I pressed him on it, it became obvious he had great feeling for me and was genuinely struggling to express it. We communicate well, but I lead it. He is very physically affectionate, present, and a kind and gentle man who I care for very much. He is intelligent, but very insecure. He has had depression in the past, including a severe bout. He has been on anti-depressants before, though not while we've been together.
Recently, he has been closed off and distant. He would tell lies of omission that caused some confusion and stress (cancelling dates without explanation leaving me feel strange and thinking he was pulling away, and then confused when it would be followed up normal texts/communication, and he would get very frustrated when when I enquired about why he had to cancel). I did think he was seeing someone, as the behaviour was hard to marry with anything else. A few weeks of this resulted in an argument, when I explained what I needed emotionally to feel secure, and that it was hard to know how support him, if I'm not sure what the problem is (or if the problem is his feelings towards me). He could not bring himself to respond. I was sad, so left. He spent the weekend with family, and took a day before revealing he had been struggling with what he thinks is depression of late. He said he had seen a psychologist, and has been prescribed medication. I was surprised, but we had a good talk about communication. What he needs from me, and likewise. We were both very relieved, though I felt he made the situation worse/much more stressful than it needed to be. We both travel a lot for work, which puts pressure on things. Though we text/call often, it is often superficial.
I want to support him, but I am not sure how. Physical intimacy is a lovely part of our relationship. Obviously, a person's happiness is more important, but physical stuff plays an important role in a relationship. Has anyone experienced the drop in sex drive from medication? I need some education about how to support this man, while not losing myself in his journey. Any advice would be highly appreciated.
Apologies if this is in the wrong spot.
First of all, welcome to the forums! You've definitely come to the right place 🙂 It sounds like you and your partner both have great communication skills, so that when there was a miscommunication you were both able to get on the same page before too long. It's possible your partner was afraid to say out loud to you what was really going on because he is a bit in denial about his depression coming back, and saying it makes it real. I have certainly experienced something similar.
Antidepressants are very safe drugs, and while few advances have been made in how they work in the last several decades, the main advances are a reduction in pesky or unhealthy side-effects. Sex and antidepressants can be a bit paradoxical, because while lowered sex drive is a well-known (but by no means certain) side-effect, it is also a symptom of depression itself. Put simply, you could see a positive change, a change for the worse, or no change at all.
Try to remain open with your partner about what you both need and want physically, and make sure that he can always mention any unwanted side-effects to his prescribing doctor.
I totally sympathize with you that having a partner with depression can be quite stressful and taxing on you. Your partner should have been more forthcoming sooner so you did not start to suspect other things like cheating. But it sounds like you guys are quite solid and will get through this no problem.
If your concerns about intimacy come to pass, or even if they don't, feel free to follow up and keep us posted/ask for more advice!