Depression and Intimacy
(Created August 1, 2013)
Depression doesn't just happen to you. It happens to the people closest to us. Depression is tough on strong relationships, threatens the foundation of weaker ones, and can make forming new connections almost impossible. It doesn't matter whether depression begins as a feeling just a little down, or a feeling stuck, or totally immobilized, the result is the same.
Depression is very complicated, multifaceted and can vary from one person to person. Depression has many causes, not one. It can emerge from our inner most personal feelings of pain or our outer most feelings of pain resulting from situations, trauma, or events that happen in our life.
Depression can cause us to disconnect from ourselves, or “lose myself”; disconnect or disengage from our partners; and can cause difficulty when connecting with others or getting back in the game of life.<
Depression Disconnects Us From Ourselves
Even the basics--like eating, sleeping, and paying attention--move from an "automatic" or easy process to difficult and problematic. When locked in the grip of depression you may struggle to meet the most minimal demands in life due to limited emotional resources. Getting through the day tends to "use up" all of your energy, making it difficult to feel desire or joy. This is often worsened because you may have trouble remembering that you actually once had those feelings or believing you might experience them in the future.
Depression Disconnects Us From Our Partner
Intimacy--whether it's laughing over a private joke, in the kitchen, or making love in the bedroom-is a quiet, but devastating casualty of depression. Depression sufferers don't have much energy left over for intimate relationships. A depressed person's partner is often helpless and is left to observe the painful process of disconnection. Misery, in this case, does not love company, and often causes couples to withdraw from each other. Depressed people sometimes transfer their inner pain to something or someone outside themselves. Partners may become the target of anger, blame or dependency. They can feel abandoned, confused, isolated and fear/ill about the future. They may resent the extra burdens they have to bear as a result of their partner's illness. Sometimes the stigma of depression can both isolate partners from others and deny them the social support they need.
Depression Makes Forming New Connections Difficult
How do you deal with the tremendous loneliness that depression introduces or intensifies in your life? Finding and starting a new relationship demands many things for you, as a depressed person, don't have--energy, initiative, and the sturdy self-esteem necessary to make new connections.
Depression can make it impossible for you to put your best foot forward when meeting people and can take away your desire to meet new people at all. While depressed, if you do manage to summon the courage and energy for new connections, it can be extremely difficult and totally deplete your energy. Many attempts are often thwarted, misperceived, and misconstrued by others.
Solutions to "RePair" Intimacy
Depression has many viable avenues of treatment, not one. While antidepressant medications are, without a doubt, a very valuable tool, psychotherapy is very important in the treatment of depression with our partners. It can be empowering in the healing process or restoring, reconnecting, and connecting. Talking with someone who can help cannot be overstated. It helps to recreate and strengthen the bond of intimacy and leads to healthier relationships with others.