I Can't Be Happy: How Depression Impacts Relationships

Updated March 20, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

When it comes to relationships, many things can stand in the way of happiness. It could be financial troubles, work stress, poor communication, or selfishness that causes trouble to pop up in your relationship. These are all normal challenges that couples face. However, if you constantly think, "I can't be happy," it could be that depression is impacting your relationship. This is just one of several ways that being depressed can affect your relationship. Yes, depression and anxiety in relationships are real and common in so many couples.

What depression looks like

Is depression making it hard to be happy in your relationship?

Depression is a serious mental health challenge that should not be taken lightly. The Mayo Clinic says, "Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called a major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think, and behave, leading to various emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn't worth living."

If you have not been diagnosed with a depressive disorder, symptoms include things like:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Change in appetite - Either eating more than usual or not eating enough
  • Change in sleep behavior - Either sleeping more often than usual or not enough
  • Increased anger or irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or lonely

These are just some of the symptoms that you could be experiencing. And, you may experience some but not all of the symptoms. If you are noticing depression symptoms and are not being treated, seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional such as a therapist.

How depression impacts relationships

There are many different ways that your depression could be impacting you, your partner, and your relationship.

Your partner feels responsible

When you're in a relationship with someone that cares about you, they don't want to see you hurting. And, it's possible that if they see that you are having a hard time that they are going to think that they are in some way responsible for it.

This can be frustrating for both of you. You must be able to communicate to your partner that they are not responsible for the way that you're feeling. You want to communicate to them that you are not feeling down because you aren't happy with your relationship but that your depression loneliness causes it.

A good way to get your partner to understand this is to have them come to a counseling session with you. Your therapist can help explain to your partner the details of depression, how it can impact your life, and other information that can help them understand what they can do to support you as you work through it.

You don't want to go out

Depression can make just going through daily tasks difficult. Things like getting out of bed, taking a shower, and eating can feel like almost impossible tasks. That means doing things like going out to dinner and the movies or doing a game night with friends feels out of the picture for you.

This can be difficult for your partner to understand. If they want to go out and don't feel good about it, this can cause problems. Your partner may become frustrated because they are tired of staying in, or they feel like you are always making excuses not to have to go out. If they don't understand how depression is impacting you or haven't been honest with them about how you're feeling, they aren't going to understand that you have a legitimate reason for not leaving the house.

Ilona Titova/EyeEm

You are hard to get along with

Many people connect depression with sadness and don't realize that it can cause anger and increased irritability. If you are fighting depression, it can cause you to have a short temper with those you love.

If this is happening, it makes you a hard person to get along with. You may blame your partner for things that they are not responsible for, which can cause hurt and resentment in your relationship. If your partner is aware that you struggle with depression, they may be willing to overlook some of your irritability because they know where it's stemming from. Still, if they don't know what you're struggling with, this can leave them feeling confused about the relationship.

Romance is the furthest thing from your mind

When you are struggling to get through the day, one of the last things on your mind is putting forth an effort to be romantic. According to Johns Hopkins, a lack of sexual desire is often a symptom of those that are depressed.

A difference in sexual desire can be a common issue between couples anyway, and when you add depression into the mix, it can make it an even bigger challenge. If your partner feels like you are only going through the motions or aren't even able to do that, it can leave them feeling lost about where you stand in the relationship. This can lead to hurt feelings over assumptions that are being made. Your partner may feel that you aren't attracted to them when it's your depression getting in the way.

Your partner feels unappreciated

When you are struggling with depression, the chances are good that your partner is picking up your slack. Here's what this could look like in your life; they are the ones that are:

  • Handling the housework
  • Taking care of the children
  • Doing the extra running
  • Cooking all the meals
  • Making excuses on why you can't get together with friends
  • Handling the bills

When you are depressed, there are times when you might lack the ability to handle these tasks or even care if they are getting handled. You know the electric bill needs to be paid, but you don't care if it happens. You know there is no food in the house, but you aren't hungry and don't want to get out of bed, so you could care less if there are groceries.

When one partner is carrying the weight of the relationship, it can be exhausting for them.

What you can do about it

If you see that your depression is causing problems within your relationship, there are things that you can do about it.

  1.  Get help for yourself

If you know that you are struggling, then you need to reach out for help. Even if you don't care about doing it for yourself, if you love your partner and see that your depression is impacting them, remember that helping yourself is helping them as well.

Talk to a counselor if your girlfriend or boyfriend is depressed or if you're at a loss for what to do and things become out of control. Keep in mind that anything may be mended, but only with the help of professionals. If your depression is causing you to feel like you don't want to leave the house, work with an online therapist from Regain. You can get the help of a licensed counselor right from your bed. This can be through video chats or simple text messages. This removes the excuse that you don't want to get showered or dressed for appointments. Therapists are available 24/7 to help you when you need it most.

  1.  Practice self-care

Self-care can help you to overcome your depression. This includes getting the proper amount of sleep, not staying up all night because you don't feel tired, or sleeping all day because you don't feel like waking up.

This also involves making healthy food choices. If you don't have much of an appetite, work on eating little healthy things when you can. Work on increasing how much you can eat. The less you eat, the worse you feel. You may have to force yourself to eat at first, but eventually, it can help you start having the energy you need to get through the day.

Other things that are a part of self-care include exercising, journaling, meditation, and finding things you enjoy. Its purpose is to help you be as healthy as possible with your physical, emotional, and mental health.

  1.  Be honest

When they know that you are struggling with something outside of the relationship, it can help them know how to support you better. It can also reassure them that they aren't the cause of it.

Is depression making it hard to be happy in your relationship?
  1. Let them know you don't need them to “fix” you

Your loved one doesn't want to see you hurting, and this can make them want to find a way to fix your depression for you. Unfortunately, this isn't possible. And, the more they try to "fix" you, the more you could end up feeling like they don't love and support you as you are.

Be open with your partner about how they can support you through this time, even if it's just telling them that you'd love someone to sit with you.

  1.  Let them know it's okay to go without you

If you don't feel like going out to any events or activities, don't stop your partner from going. Let them know that you don't expect them to stop living their lives because you struggle with depression. If there is a time when you could use them to be there with you, then communicate this to them. But make sure that you aren't trying to keep them just sitting at home because you don't feel like going. This can cause resentment.

In the end, the best thing you can do when depression is impacting your relationship is to get help getting your depression under control. Reach out to a therapist to get started.

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