Depression and Relationships: When to Say Goodbye

It can be difficult to navigate depression and relationships. But how do you know when it’s time to say goodbye? Get the answer on HealthyPlace.

Depression in relationships is incredibly common, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Depression is an illness that affects 19 million people in the United States, and there’s no cure-all solution. However, many relationships survive a diagnosis of depression and claim the experience brought them closer together. There are others, however, that buckle under the strain of depression, and sometimes for good reason. Find out when to say goodbye in our depression and relationships article.

Could Depression Break Up My Relationship?

When it comes to depression and relationships, it’s important to remember that there is no universal response to the above question. While depression can put considerable strain on a relationship, it is not depression itself that causes a relationship to end. The longevity of a relationship is dependent on both people's ability to communicate and care for one another, even when life is difficult. No two relationships will respond the same way to this kind of event.

When one or both partners are depressed, that crucial need to communicate is compromised. The depressed partner may feel like no one will understand how they're feeling or they may not have the energy to talk. Depression often tells people they’re better off alone, and that voice can be very persuasive. The non-depressed partner may then feel frustrated and angry that their partner won’t communicate. They may also blame themselves or feel ashamed that they can’t make things better and don't know how to deal with the depressed spouse or partner.

Part of being in a romantic relationship is realizing that there will be challenges along the road. You or your partner experiencing depression doesn't necessarily spell the end of the relationship, but it does require you to grow and adapt as a couple. You will need to find new ways to communicate and try to avoid offending or insulting one another, however fraught things get. You will need to be patient, understanding and compassionate as you try to navigate depression and your relationship together.

Depression and Relationships: When to Say Goodbye

Of course, whether or not you stay in a relationship with someone who's depressed depends on many factors. It's important to be there for our loved ones when they get sick, but you cannot do that at the expense of your own happiness and wellbeing. Here are some reasons why it's totally okay to say goodbye to your relationship:

Your relationship is making you depressed: Relationships don’t necessarily cause depression, but they can be a contributing factor. If you are unhappy in your relationship, it is important to pay attention to that feeling and talk to your partner. If there are issues you cannot resolve, you may decide to end the relationship.  

Your partner puts you down: Whether your partner is mentally ill or not, it’s never alright for them to belittle and degrade you. If insults, put-downs and controlling behavior occur regularly in your relationship, that’s emotional abuse, and it’s a very good reason to walk away. Sometimes it's difficult to decide if you're unhappy in your relationship or depressed, but if your partner abuses you it's a sure sign your relationship isn't healthy.

You have become isolated: It’s normal for people who are depressed to want to isolate themselves, but this shouldn’t always include you. If you have become isolated from your family and friends, this is a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy. Talk to your partner. They may not realize how you feel.

Your needs are ignored: When your partner is sick, they may need more from you than usual. However, your own needs for space, time alone, socializing with friends or intimacy should not be ignored – even if your partner can’t always provide exactly what you need, they should be able to communicate with you about this.

Depression and relationship breakups are tough, so make sure you have a support system to fall back on during this time. If you don’t have somewhere to turn, you can visit the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance for peer support, information on groups in your area, online services and crisis resources.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2022, January 3). Depression and Relationships: When to Say Goodbye, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: January 10, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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