(BlackDoctor.org) — Depression is a common illness that most of us will deal with at some point in our lives. About 19 million Americans suffer from depression and 92% of African-Americans (suffering from depression) do not undergo any treatment for the condition. This can pose a problem for many areas of life — especially relationships. But depression doesn’t have to be a deal breaker in dating.
One thing to remember about dating is that all people have some kind of baggage they bring along for the ride. So don’t be too hard on yourself. If the person and the relationship are right for you, the difficulties encountered can be overcome. These 6 simple tips can help make dating a bit easier.
Don’t tell on the first date
You don’t owe it to the person to discuss your depression on a first date. If things become more serious, however, you should tell your potential partner. A good time might be when you decide to see each other exclusively or when you just feel that you care more deeply about each other. There are always individual differences. Something may come up in a conversation where it would feel like a natural time or that it would be dishonest not to. You might choose that time to share that you have depression.
How to talk about it
When you feel the time is right, talk about it with this three part “script.” First, tell your partner that they are important to you, enough so that you have something about yourself to share with them. Second, don’t just blurt out “I’m depressed.” Instead, preface it by telling them that there’s something you’ve struggled with that’s a fairly common problem, and let them know you have been diagnosed with depression and that you’re taking care of yourself by seeking treatment. And finally, emphasize again that you care about the person and the relationship. This message is as important as telling her that you have depression.
In addition to surrounding yourself with the support of friends and family, it’s important to let potential partners know how they can help you. For example, if you exercise regularly to help lift your mood, ask your partner to join you. If they will support you in your endeavors, they could be a real keeper. Telling them about the challenges you face or going to couples counseling can also be helpful. Just talking about your relationship and how depression may impact it lets a person know you want him or her to be a part of your life.
If your potential partner asks questions or offers advice, recognize the good intent behind the words—even if they aren’t that helpful. For example, men often feel that it’s their job to make their partner happy. Understand his desire to help, but let him know you can’t always put on a happy face. Some women, on the other hand, expect men to take the initiative to plan dates or activities. This can be hard to do when you are depressed and you have little energy. Let her know you want to be with her, but you may have to keep things low-key.
Depression, and some antidepressants, can cause you to lose interest in sex. If you are having libido problems that are medication related, talk to your doctor about alternatives that might be less likely to dampen your sex drive. You can also let your partner know that you care in other ways. If you don’t feel like having sex, let the person know you still find him or her attractive by cuddling or being affectionate.
Millions of people turn to the Internet to find romantic partners, but that doesn’t mean it’s not difficult. It is easy to get discouraged when dating online. It takes skill to know how to navigate online dating to find someone special. There are sites geared specifically for those with mental illness. These types of sites can be a good place to go to, but consider mainstream dating sites as well. Don’t give up after meeting just one or two people. Discuss the process with friends and family; having a good support system can help.