By Dr. Samantha Rodman, Clinical Psychologist
In fact, dating and being in a loving relationship is a wonderful way to make you feel like depression isn’t taking over your life. You feel you’re alive again..
Before you rush into dating though, keep in mind some of the ways that dating with depression can be very different than dating without.
When your neurotransmitters are making you feel down and depressed, even the most perfect, loving partner may not be able to elicit a feeling of love and excitement. Rather than assuming that your partner is the problem, it is key to understand that depression may be sabotaging your ability to feel loving in the moment.
When your depression remits, your love may surge back.
This means that you may be extremely sensitive to any sarcastic, mocking, or unkind remarks from your partner. It also means that you may be predisposed to see even gentle, well-intentioned teasing as “mean.”
It is essential that you recognize that depression changes your sensitivity to social pain, and therefore may make you react strongly to remarks that were not intended to hurt you.
You may be attracted to your partner but not feel like having sex, and this doesn’t mean that you and your partner are sexually incompatible. Instead, it may mean that your depression is hijacking your sex drive.
Before concluding that you’re no longer on the same page sexually, be patient. See how your sexual connection fares when your depression remits, or when you’re further along in treatment.
Your partner may be frustrated that you don’t want to meet or hang out with their friends or family, especially if this used to be something that you enjoyed doing.
You need to have a discussion with your partner about how you feel different about socializing when depressed. Additionally, you can work with your therapist to figure out ways to motivate yourself to socialize more, even when depressed., Social support is important in helping depression remit.
If you’re on medication for depression, this often has a tremendous impact on sexual desire, time until orgasm, and ability to orgasm at all. Not to mention that some meds can lead to weight gain, which can negatively impact your self-image and your view of yourself as an attractive sexual entity.
Additionally, antidepressants quell obsessional thoughts. This is great for depression and anxiety, but may actually stop your brain from spiraling into a positive obsessional loop that you equate with an excited, “in love” feeling.
Talking to your psychiatrist about different medication options is key. There are many different meds, all with different side effect profiles, and some may work much better for you than others.
If any of these points resonate with you, it is important to keep them in mind while dating. If you already have a partner, share this piece with them so that they can be aware of how your behavior may be impacted by your depression.
Dating is a jungle, and depression makes it even harder. But, the rewards of being in a fulfilling relationship are great, and if you have the strength and insight to power through your bleakest times, you can date successfully, even with depression.
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