Depression is a common mental illness that affects millions of American adults of all ages and backgrounds every year.
Depression can affect your moods, feelings and the way that you think. It can also affect your relationships, making things like dating more difficult than they otherwise would be.
The good news is that with the right approach and outlook, it’s very possible to have an active dating life while you’re treating your depression.
Below, we’ve shared 11 simple tips that you can use to meet people and develop relationships while dealing with depression.
First of all, if you have depression symptoms that have lasted for two weeks or longer and have a noticeable impact on your daily life, it’s important to meet a licensed mental health provider to discuss your symptoms and learn about treatment options.
Depressive symptoms can have a huge impact on your life, but they’re treatable with medication and therapy.
Getting professional treatment for depression not only improves your quality of life — it can also make your dating life easier by helping you to gain more control over your emotions, moods and behavior.
You can get help for depression by talking to your primary care provider or contacting a licensed mental health professional in your area.
You can also connect with a licensed psychiatry provider from home using our online psychiatry service.
It’s always best to seek professional help for your depression before you start dating, spending time with new people or making other changes to your life.
Romantic relationships are an essential part of a balanced, fulfilling life, but they shouldn’t come before your mental health.
If you’ve been diagnosed with depression, it’s important to view treating your depression as your first priority.
This is especially important if you have frequent depressive episodes, or if you have severe or chronic depression.
Before you start dating, make sure that you feel that you’re ready. This could mean taking part in a certain number of therapy sessions, or waiting until you begin to experience real benefits from your antidepressants.
Remember that you need to care for yourself first in order to take care of someone else. Don’t feel afraid to postpone dating if you don’t feel totally ready.
Instead, focus on creating your personal support system and achieving stable, consistent moods.
Depression is a serious mental health disorder. If you’ve met someone and your relationship is starting to develop, it’s important to let them know, but not necessarily right away.
In general, it’s best to avoid bringing up depression, anxiety or other mental health issues on a first date.
Instead, focus on getting to know the person you’re with and working out if the two of you are compatible with each other.
When things become more serious, you should start thinking about the best way to let your new partner know about your mental health status.
It’s easy to think of depression or other mental health issues as an unwanted burden that your partner will need to put up with.
This kind of thinking can set you back when you're dating. Instead of feeling worried about how your new partner will react to your depression, it’s better to accept that every person has some quirks and baggage that they’ll bring into each new relationship.
Depression, anxiety and other mental disorders are common. A caring partner will accept you as you are and won’t let depression get in the way of a healthy relationship.
When you feel like it’s time to let your partner know about your mental health, it’s best to bring it up carefully and sensitively.
Start by letting your partner know that they’re important to you, and that you want them to know about your personal history.
It’s up to you to choose how much to disclose to your partner. You can let them know that you’ve struggled with depression for a certain amount of time, or simply tell them that you’ve previously been diagnosed with a form of depression.
If you’re currently treating your depression, make sure to tell your partner. If you’re in a healthy, happy relationship, your partner might ask what they can do to help you make progress in your depression journey and better deal with your symptoms.
Getting support from people you trust, including your partner, is one of the most effective ways to deal with the symptoms of depression.
After you let your partner know about your depression history, don’t feel afraid to tell them how they can help and support you.
Make sure to let your partner know about how they can support you in these activities.
This could mean working out together in the gym, going for walks together or setting life goals together.
Or, it could mean going out together to socialize, meet people and take part in local events and activities.
Even simple things, such as staying at home to talk about how you’ve felt recently, can have a noticeable positive impact on your mood and quality of life.
Even with antidepressants and therapy, it’s common for the emotional symptoms of depression to come and go.
Some days, you might be eager to get out and enjoy life. On others, you might feel tired, empty or just not quite in the mood to see a movie, go out for dinner or do other active, involved things with your partner.
When you experience depression symptoms such as feelings of sadness, emptiness or a lower level of interest in life, it’s okay to take a break.
Let your partner know that you just aren’t feeling ready to go out that day, or that you need some quiet time to yourself.
One way to deal with the emotional ups and downs of depression is to propose alternatives, like a date later in the week.
Make it clear that you’re interested, but just not in the correct emotional state to spend time together at that particular moment.
Depression is one of the most commonly misunderstood mental illnesses. Many people assume that it’s a temporary emotional state — a brief period of the blues — that passes by the end of the day or after a positive event, rather than a serious illness that requires ongoing help.
It’s important to understand that your partner might not know as much about depression as you do, and that they might ask questions that come across as ignorant, frustrating, or even slightly offensive.
Try to be patient and understanding with your partner, even if they ask or say something that’s unhelpful.
Let them know what depression is and isn’t, and treat each misunderstanding as an opportunity to help them learn more about your condition.
Finding the right person can have a huge positive impact on your life. However, it’s important not to view dating as a form of treatment for depression, or a person you meet as someone that can solve your mental health problems on their own.
Depression is a serious mood disorder. Treating it successfully requires time and attention, and the process is full of ups and downs. It’s a long-term commitment that doesn’t always end when you meet the right person.
If you’ve met someone who makes you feel better, improves your life and helps you to minimize the effects of your depression, value them.
However, it’s important not to view this person as a replacement for your depression treatments, such as therapy and medication.
Stick with conventional treatment and you’ll avoid experiencing a relapse of your depression that could affect your relationship and personal wellbeing.
Many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and other medications used to treat clinical depression can affect your sex drive and sexual function.
For example, it’s common for antidepressants to cause sexual side effects such as a lower level of interest in sex, reduced excitement, difficulty achieving orgasm, erectile dysfunction (ED) and delayed ejaculation.
If your medication is getting in the way of enjoying sex with your partner, it’s okay to inform your partner about these side effects.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider. To improve your sexual health, they may suggest adjusting you dosage, going on a “drug vacation” or changing to an antidepressant that has less of a negative effect on your sexual function.
However, it’s important to note that you should never, ever change your dosage or stop using your medication without first speaking with your healthcare provider.
If you’ve ever spent time with someone that made you feel worse, or who made your depression symptoms more severe, it’s important to learn from the experience and make sure that you don’t repeat it.
This means recognizing negative features of a relationship, then taking action if you notice them occurring with your partner.
Understand that while the right partner may help you get through depression, the wrong person might make your recovery process worse.
Don’t feel afraid to end a relationship if you feel like it isn’t right for you or that it’s hurting your mental health.
Depression is a common mental illness that can have a serious impact on your thoughts, moods and quality of life.
However, being affected by depression doesn’t mean that you can’t also meet new people and start a relationship.
Whether you’re meeting people through online dating or developing a relationship with a person you already know, you can use the tips above to make dating with depression easier.
Interested in learning more about depression? Our guide to major depressive disorder goes into more detail about what depression is and how it can affect you, while our list of the best ways to help depression shares techniques that you can use to successfully deal with your symptoms.
You can also learn more about living with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders with our free online mental health resources.
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Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.