This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Soumya Sinha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

How To Navigate A Relationship With A Partner Living With Depression

More from Soumya Sinha

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that relationships aren’t easy. Maintaining trust, conflict management and helping each other grow requires serious effort and healthy communication.

However, when you add mental health issues such as depression into the mix, it becomes infinitely more difficult to keep your relationship on the right track.

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues, affecting approximately 3.8% of the world population. Imagine 28 crore people having to deal with negative thoughts, disinterest in social interactions, sleeping and appetite problems.

It tends to consume a person’s entire world and consequently ends up affecting their caregivers as well. Relationships wherein one has been diagnosed with depression costs both individuals.

Representational image.

28 crore people neglecting their own needs because they don’t have the energy to navigate life. It is far more likely for you to cross paths with a person living with depression than an astronaut during your lifetime, and you won’t even know it.

To live with depression is to constantly be in a fight against your mind. Depression runs deeper than just sadness. It is not possible for people to just stop feeling depressed. The crippling hopelessness that plagues them makes even basic tasks difficult.

Movies like Silver Linings Playbook and Little Miss Sunshine have made very brave attempts at capturing the reality of mental illnesses in real life, but all they can do is provide a brief glimpse into a very bleak world.

While it is true that people with depression are not always sad and do not ‘shut down’ as we say, they do tend to be more affected by simple events, sometimes catastrophizing little problems into big issues.

Depression: An ‘Us’ Problem

A study indicates that depression takes an emotional toll on couples and their relationship, strains romantic and sexual intimacy and leads to a lack of communication.

Such relationships are built on a foundation of codependency; the individual with depression becomes highly dependent on their partners, while their partners start feeling like giving care to them is their sole purpose.

The partner is further subject to social ostracization and stigma and has to bear the burden of people’s judgement. Trust issues develop, leading to a sense of frustration for the non-depressed partner as they cannot figure out how to help overcome their depression.

When you cannot help but see your loved one suffer in such a manner, the seed of guilt embeds itself into your mind. This guilt and trauma then manifest itself in being too helpful and agreeable, often making decisions without much thought.

While it is okay to worry about your partner, it just isn’t fair if you start compromising on your own space is it? In a country like India, and all around the world, in fact, most caregivers are women.

In addition to the trauma associated with caregiving itself, they also have to deal with stringent gender norms and sexism. It then becomes highly likely that the partner living without depression will agree to do things out of their comfort zone if only to bring temporary relief to their loved one.

Their lives become so entangled that when you think about ending the relationship, you cannot figure out how to. The trauma and guilt turn into a pit, sucking you both in.

What results is a highly non-ideal situation; both the partners become so dependent that it becomes difficult to separate their identities.

Representational image.

How To Deal With Difficult Relationships?

Dr. Anju Thakral, a Clinical Psychologist working with the Department of Psychiatry, DIMHANS S.P. Medical College, Bikaner, feels that honest communication is the key to handling such relationships.

Not Anyone’s Fault

People with depression tend to have a negative thought process and often show disinterest in their relationships. In such a situation, it’s hard not to guilt-trip yourself into believing that you’re being inadequate. However, their behaviour is a result of negative appraisal and should not be taken personally.

Boundaries Are Important

Caring for someone is a full-time job and people often don’t find enough time for themselves. It is important to know your own limits and lay down boundaries in the relationship; don’t let your guilt force you to do things that you’re not comfortable doing. Additionally, steal some time for yourself and meditate if you can.

Having A Support Network Helps

Seems ironic, doesn’t it? To build a support network for someone who is already a part of someone else’s support network. But it’s just as important nonetheless. Taking care of someone with depression takes its own toll on one’s mental health.

Having your own support group ensures that you are not burdening yourself with your partner’s problems and have people to take care of you too.

Therapy May Be The Answer

Don’t hesitate to seek help if your mental distress starts overpowering your life. Therapy will help you come to terms with your needs and take necessary precautions. Couples counselling too could help resolve some of the strain caused on the relationship and could turn out to be a great way to mend the bond.

Leaving Is An Option

Depression can be very scary for both the people involved. And in some cases, the partner living without depression has no choice but to leave for their own sake. However, ensure that your partner is emotionally independent enough to not take any drastic measures after you end things.

An optimal way of doing this is by slowly giving them responsibilities and small tasks that help boost their confidence and separate their identity from yours.

While ending the relationship is purely an individual decision and depends on one couple to another, your partner should have enough stability to take care of themselves after you leave.

It takes two to be in a relationship and both the people must work in tandem with each other to help their relationship flourish. Depression may be very crippling, but it can be handled well if the couple succeeds in keeping their identities separate while helping each other heal from their traumas.

Medical professionals thus continue to highlight the importance of focusing on the mental health of both the individuals involved, with treatment for the one dealing with depression. It is only when one receives adequate care and professional help that one can foster healthy relationships with others.

All said and done, there are multiple facets to navigating a relationship and the list of suggestions cited above are not in any way medical advice or exhaustive in nature.

The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

You must be to comment.

More from Soumya Sinha

Similar Posts

By Md Jaber Ahmad BD

By shakeel ahmad

By Rana Ashish Singh

    If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

      If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        If you do not receive an email within the next 5 mins, please check your spam box or email us at

        Wondering what to write about?

        Here are some topics to get you started

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Read more about her campaign. 

        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

        As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

        Find out more about the campaign here.

        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

        She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

        The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

        Read more about the campaign here.

        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

        Share your details to download the report.

        We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

        Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
        biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

        Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
        campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

        Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below