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Valentine's Day: Here's How You Could Help Your Partner Beat The Blues

The love and support of a partner can help those suffering from depression, and the more depressed your partner is, the more love you should show them.

AFP

Updated:February 11, 2017, 5:01 PM IST
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Valentine's Day: Here's How You Could Help Your Partner Beat The Blues
Offering love and support to your partner through times of depression can help benefit future mental health for both according to new research. © BraunS / Istock.com

The love and support of a partner can help those suffering from depression, and the more depressed your partner is, the more love you should show them.

That's according to a new study from the University of Alberta, Canada, which surveyed 1,407 couples annually across six years on their levels of depression, self-esteem and mutual support.

Although it can be tempting to pull back from loved ones during times of stress and depression, the team found that helping your partner through these times can benefit their future mental health and improve feelings of self-worth and depression, with researcher Matthew Johnson explaining that, "Efforts from a partner to help alleviate stress may prevent the development or worsening of mental health problems and, in fact, could help keep the relationship healthy."

He added that as stress takes a toll on health both physically and mentally, the support of loved ones can help a person better cope with it.

"When we experience stress, especially high levels of stress, we are particularly vulnerable and perhaps that's why partner support in those times is so impactful and long-lasting."

And it was not only those who received support that benefited from an improvement in mental health.

The study also showed that men's feelings of self-esteem got a boost from supporting a depressed partner, as giving support to their partner made them feel better about themselves.

As low self-esteem is a risk factor for future depression, by receiving this boost men could also reduce their own future risk of depression as well as their partner's.

The team also found that higher depressive symptoms in one partner were associated with higher levels of depression in the other partner one year later, suggesting that supporting your partner through this time could actually benefit you both.

However Johnson also recognized that giving support is not always easy, explaining that "When someone is depressed or has low-self-worth, they may lash out. A partner offering support reaffirms feelings of depression and helplessness, of the feeling that they have to pick up the slack."

To help solve this problem Johnson advises offering "invisible support," explaining that "Studies suggest offering support your partner may not even be aware of, but would still be a helpful gesture, like taking care of a sink full of dirty dishes they haven't seen yet. You can offer support, just don't draw attention to it."

He also suggested that other ways to support your partner through times of depression, sadness or self-doubt include providing a listening and empathetic ear if they want to talk and express their feelings, and helping them with practical day-to-day tasks such as planning meals or driving children to school.

The results can be found published online in the journal Developmental Psychology.

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| Edited by: Gurleen Nagpal
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