Dating presents a challenge when one is depressed and has difficulty feeling or expressing joy. About 18 million Americans suffer from depression, with another 20 million worldwide using dating sites on the web each month according to On Line Dating Magazine. In fact at least 20 per cent of American women and 10 per cent of men experience major depression sometime in their lives. Therefore the question on looking for relationship during the mild to moderate depression episode is quite a common situation in the modern world.
Regarding depressed people and dating, Helen Friedman, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis says, “Sometimes when you don’t feel like smiling, but are in a situation where you’re expected to be happy, that can make you feel even worse.”
Meeting a new person, however, can also be a source of great joy.
Following these ten tips might make the prospect of dating a little easier for depressed individuals:
Remember, you can be happy!
It is important to remember that everyone has something in their past that they are less than proud about, and depression is nothing to feel ashamed of. Everyone has something in their past that can be cast in a negative light, as none of us are perfect. Try to remember that your depression does not define who you are. If you have suffered from depression and have overcome it, you are likely a stronger and more compassionate person because of your experiences. If you are still struggling with depression, anyone worth being with will accept your illness along with all the positives you offer them.
Depression is a serious illness but it's a treatable one, and it doesn't mean that all your potentially great relationships are doomed. "It is absolutely possible for two people to have a relationship when one of them lives with depression," says Heather Cobb, spokesperson for the National Mental Health Association (NMHA). "Most people who seek treatment do get better."
Consider professional help
If a person is not already receiving treatment for his/her depression, getting professional help is advised. When depressed, dating might potentially magnify some symptoms, such as fatigue, irritability, low self-esteem and decreased libido. According to Mental Health America, 80% of those who seek treatment get relief; therapy and medications are successful in most cases.
Time it right
Despite the urging of family and friends, if a depressed individual does not feel up to dating, it is best to postpone. Taking care of oneself is priority in order to care of someone else in a relationship. Maintain positive thoughts, consistently take medications and attend therapy sessions, keep company with others who are supportive and upbeat in order to be at your best when dating opportunities occur.
Don’t tell on first date
It is not necessary to bare your soul, or your depression on a first date. Before confiding in another, ensure that person is someone who is going to be a constant in your life; someone for whom you genuinely care about and with whom you wish to have a prolonged relationship.
When Should I Tell?
The time to tell someone about your depression is either when your condition gets in the way of the relationship or the partnership starts to become serious. So, if you get knocked on your ass by depression and have to cancel a Friday night date, tell him or her what's going on. But do it in person, not via email or over the phone, as this lets them know that you are serious about the relationship. Equally, if you are shacking up or getting married, best to come clean about the depression, even if you haven't experienced any bouts since you started dating, as there may be times when your partner will need to stand by and support you, and they have a right to know what they are signing up for.
How to talk about it
When you are ready to reveal your medical condition, avoid blurting it out. Preface your conversation with comments about having something important to discuss and you are doing so only because the person in whom you are confiding is important to you. Share that you have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment. Conclude by reiterating how important this person is to you and that you are telling about your depression, in order to be completely honest and forthright.
It is important to let your partner know how he/she can help you, according to Sheela Raja, PhD, clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. For example, if daily exercise is part of your treatment regimen, invite your partner to join you taking walks or working out. Consider couples counseling so that your significant other might learn other ways to be helpful.
Dating when depressed might not fit the stereotype of men taking the initiative and women being joyful at being catered to by another. A male partner might not always feel up to making plans and a female might not always be smiling and upbeat in response to her partner’s catering. With raised awareness, these deviations to normal expectations can be coped with more easily.
It is common for depressed persons to lose interest in sex. Sometimes medications keep the disposition in balance, but decrease the libido. Talk to your doctor about alternative medications, if this is the case. In any event, it is possible to display affection in other ways when the mood is not right due to depression issues.
Do not take personally
If someone backs off after you reveal this, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. We fear what we don’t know. Some people just do not have any experience with these situations or don’t understand. The stigma attached to these conditions is diminishing because it is more and more common in the modern society, and people are feeling more comfortable discussing these topics and revealing their own battles.
Don’t repeat mistakes
If you made the mistake of investing time with someone who made you feel bad, or worse yet, rejected you, talk it over with a therapist and move on. With practice, you will be able to recognize the signs and discern early on the level of maturity and compassion in prospective dates.
On line dating
Many individuals nowadays indulge in internet dating. There are special sites especially geared to those with depression or other mental and physical issues, such as nolongerlonely.com. It is not necessary to limit one’s exposure to such as this site, however, as mainstream dating sites might also be effective ways to meet suitable dating prospects.
Most importantly, if you want to be accepted by others, accept yourself. All people have baggage of one type or another; weight issues, acne or a difficult past can be as challenging as suffering from depression. When the right person comes along, depression will not be a deal breaker.
In conclusion, do not allow the fact that you are battling with depression to preclude a satisfactory dating life. Use these thirteen tips as a guide for lessening the challenges and increasing the joy of dating.
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