Depression is a mental condition that affects our feelings and thoughts and can affect various aspects of someone’s life, with noticeable signs of sadness, low mood, loss of interest in everything and the feeling of being unable to cope with daily challenges. It can last weeks or months or years and affect the performance and quality of life of the person.
A person who is experiencing depression can suffer from poor work performance, memory difficulties and attention problems. Their eating habits can change and they may be more vulnerable to diseases because his or her defences are weakened.
If there sufferer is in a relationship their sexual life can be affected. Sexual desire or the search for mutual pleasure may be interrupted, and the consequences in the relationship will be noticeable. Depending on the degree of intensity, the depressed person will experience a feeling of unease, anxiety, isolation and lack of pleasurable stimuli. The absence of sexual fantasies or thoughts may result in the couple losing the ability to enjoy sex or losing all sexual initiative.
This emotional disorder also involves the family and social environment. However many people refuse to accept it and recognise it as a problem that requires specialised professional care.
How can you help a loved one who suffers from depression? The attitude of the sufferer and their partner is crucial when dealing with depressive symptoms. A first step is to remain calm and act positively. Depression tends to spread, everyone involved has to be careful not to fall into it also.
The partner of the depressed person can help the patient commit to and follow their treatment. If there is no partner, someone in the immediate environment who is reliable and trustworthy can.
It is important that depression is detected and treated early to prevent the person from falling into a spiral that affects your emotional and sexual life. Depression affects relationships in different ways so it is important to:
1. Know that your enemy is depression, not your partner. It is important to develop an approach to depression based on the "we" and not "I".
2. Find out and learn all about depression. Seek professional advice. If depression has been present for a long time, both the relationship and depression require attention.
3. Organise individual recovery strategies with your partner. It is the safest way to attack depression.
4. Create additional systems outside organised help. Complaints only fuel resentment and aggravate the problem, whereas expression helps the healing process. Your support network may include friends, colleagues, churches, support groups and any place you consider safe to tell you what happens.
5. Perform recovery activities together. Attend therapy sessions. Read books together about overcoming depression. Exercise together, or keep records of moods. If you have children with appropriate age talk to them and teach them about depression.
Psychotherapy has been very effective in treating various types of depression. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy help patients understand and learn to solve their problems and therapies can teach patients new behaviours to lead better lives and help them to learn new healthy lifestyle patterns.
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