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Are you supporting a depressed partner? My tips from 18 years of experience

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member
This list has been compiled from experiences supporting my husband with depression. There is no one size fits all, so please take what you are comfortable with based on your circumstances and resources.


1. Reach out to family and/or friends to feel supported - this also covers support groups - online or face to face. Don't let stigma stop you from reaching out.

2. Relationship boundaries - identify what is acceptable and not. My general platform is that physical abuse is unacceptable as well as regular demeaning/berating comments. Communicate this openly so everyone understands.

3. Coping tools - this could be exercise, meditation, reading a book, meeting friends, etc. They are important for your mental health.

4. Knowledge is power - research to understand about depression. The more you know, the better care you can provide.

5. Remember your partner in the good times - this is their true selves, not the darkness.

6. Listen and show receptivity - without judgement or anger. If communicate becomes strained, the timeout can provide clarity. Encourage communication gently and try not to push.

7. Seek counselling - sharing your feelings can provide an opportunity to off load the heavy stuff and identify resilience and coping strategies.


8. Work as a team - don't let mental illness be in the driver's seat. Offer to go to the Dr's and support them. Understand medication and side effects. Be understanding that some days are harder than others.


9. Words are powerful - remember what you say cannot be taken back.


10. Carer Self-esteem and self-worth - if you compromise these for the sake of supporting your partner, you are likely to live with resentment towards your partner and the circumstances you find yourself in.


11. Don't forget the children - challenging circumstances at home can affect them mentally and emotionally. Speak about mental illness (COPMI.com.au - has some great resources) and be a strong foundation toward maintaining normality in their daily activities.


12. Intimacy - there are many variables here, so from my experience - keep communication open and make couple time to connect. When my husband was depressed, daily hugs or holding hands wherever possible worked for us. Some carers I have spoken with said their partner would demand intimacy. My personal position is that intimacy is about love without demands or attachments relating to expectation. Demands only deplete the goodness in the connection and sharing a a loving experience.


[Moderator's note: this thread is for sharing tips on what has worked for you in supported a loved one with a mental health condition. In order to help us keep this thread focused on solutions, please start a new thread if you are seeking support from the community around how to best support your loved one.]

41 Replies 41

Community Member

Thank you Carmela

This has helped give me some guidance in supporting and staying strong for my husband and our children

I am trying and failing consistently as husband is more depressed then ever and has now retreated to living under the house...

I hold onto hope he won’t give up on us...

Thanks again

Hi Helpless Wife and welcome to Beyond Blue forums

It's good you've found your way to our supportive forums. Just letting you know Carmel wrote the post a long time ago (2016). So pleased to see you have found it useful in your current circumstances.

I'm a little sad though that you feel like you are Helpless, but sure you are not. It just feels that way at times. It's the depression. Depression is debilitating for people at times, it takes time to heal and recover.

If you want to talk some more, feel free to join in the discussions that happen in the forums by doing keyword searches in the Beyond Blue search field or by doing a Google search (and adding Beyond Blue). You can also start your own thread under the forum you think is the best one for you.

Also, the BB homepage has a webpage - Looking after yourself. This is so important. When you're up to it, have a look there as well. It may have some more useful tips.

Have you thought about contacting the Carer Advisory and Counselling Service? This service provides family carer support and counselling. You can contact your state or territory branch of Carers Association on 1800 242 636 (free call from landlines).

When you feel like talking some more - feel free to do so.

Kind regards


Community Member
This is really helpful - thank you so much.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

I work full time as well as supporting hubby, who is not just depressed but also anxious, and has AD/HD and is in chronic pain, with an issue managing his opiate pain killers so they don't run out and make him more miserable.

This is not new, I've been dealing with it for a long time, but what I am having trouble with is establishing a sleep schedule without making him feel like crap. He just wants to talk and talk at night, and I need to get up and go to work. Fortunately I have some flexibility, but I am sick of still being at work after 6pm at night... which doesn't necessarily help me get up earlier.

It's not always him that makes me stay up late, but when I am trying, he just won't listen until I get nasty with him. Last night he went to go sleep on the couch, and I got him to come back by apologising and saying I'd be quiet and not complain.

Any ideas on how I can set a firm boundary so I can get enough sleep (except during emergencies of course), without making my husband feel like a lowlife?

Hi @purple people eater.Seems like you are going through a tough time. I also have experienced something similar like this.I live in an apartment with my friend.We share the same room.It was like 1 years ago that his grandfather passed away. He had spent 18 years with his grandfather back in his home country where they used to live together.He had so much love, care, affection for his grandfather.He used to tell us that his grandfather was a source of motivation for him.But after his death, he had been helpless. He used to stay alone most of the time.Remained stressed,overthink and so on.He barely slept at night.Light was always on in the room which deprived me from having a proper sleep as well. This was creating a lot of problem in his personal and professional life as well. Hence, we friends thought that it is important to take him out of this. We took some off days in week. We never left him alone.One among 4 flat mates was always with him.We went for movies, dinner and so on.This was done just to make sure that his mind remains engaged and he does not have time to think about his stress.

I know this looks difficult.However,I think you need to support your husband.Please try not getting angry.He needs your support. I think you also should try keeping hims engaged. You should also try to know the real reason behind his anxiety and depression. You are going very good in supporting him as I liked your way of apologising.However,being a strong woman you need to solve this and make sure you get back to a happy,cheerful and normal life and lie on bed with peace.Cheers.

Hi Purple People Eater, thank you so much for your bravery in posting this. My situation has similarities to yours, though my partner’s mental health sounds much easier to manage than your partner’s, on the whole.

I struggle with the cycle of guilt at wanting to sleep when they’re ready to talk, anger at them when I am struggling to cope at work and feelings of wanting to help them threaded through. Their battle with insomnia as well as depression doesn’t help either!

Though our situation is milder, I find myself wondering if I really love them, if I’m not willing to sacrifice sleep for them? This then becomes stressful in a perpetul sense, even when the ‘black dog’ goes away for a bit.

I don’t have any solutions for you, unfortunately, but wanted to thank for sharing; solidarity is something.

Hi Seals

Thanks for your reply. Yes, you can really love someone without wanting to sacrifice sleep for them... We get compassion fatigue if we don't have enough self-care and support for ourselves in the tough times.

Speaking from experience, when I don't get enough sleep, my brain doesn't work very well and I become more irritable and paranoid... which funnily enough leads me to asking questions like, "Do I really love him"... fortunately, I have been through a long period of support, multiple episodes of counselling over the years, etc.

I once even gave him a well-prepared ultimatum (when I was well-rested), and he came through, turning over a new leaf on that problem immediately.

Good luck!


Community Member

Hi there ,

im going through a very tough time.. I was dating my partner for a year and during that time he was officially diagnosed with bipolar, ptsd and personality traits.. I was very supportive and loving to him during our relationship however I asked to take a break around 7 months in as I felt myself becoming very anxious and upset due to his experience. I had witnessed him trying to overdose on medication and I had witnessed him become over raged.. it concerned me.. we still kept in contact each day however he commenced decreasing contact with me and became very one worded.. he then told me he resents me for leaving him... it’s been months since he’s been like this and sometimes he will ask to catch up and other times not reply to me. I feel like he’s going through a BP cycling period and not coping with his new medication of latuda and serouquel. He tells me he’s fine but is easily angered and always tired.. I can see how much he’s distanced from me in months and I can’t handle it I feel so abondoned. He once adored and loved me so so much and now he doesn’t even want to see me or talk to me. He’s deleted me off social media and hasn’t been seen to be liking other women’s pictures. He has a different personality now and doesn’t seem to remember the good times he once had with me. I don’t know what to do, but I’m so sad and struggling.

He says he misses me but that he feels so tired and is only interested in work and gym and going home. He tells me he hasn’t seen other women and isn’t and that he needs to protect himself from hurt. I feel so upset and useless

Community Member


I understand you are suffering, but believe me it can be much worse. I know, because my partner of 26 years has a bipolar and we have a child who needs to be protected. I am so tired of always being a reasonable adult and walking on egg shells.