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Dating can be difficult at the best of times, let alone if you suffer from depression. The notion of putting yourself “out there” if you have a history of depression may be terrifying; however, a loving relationship may be just what the doctor ordered.
The following are some practical tips for dating for those who live with depression.

Remember That Everyone Has a Past- Your Past Includes Depression

So you suffer from depression. If you do, you are in very good company. Depression affects many Americans at one time or another in their lifetime. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 6.7% of the adult population every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2010). Many more American adults suffer from milder depression at any given time. Chances are, the person you are dating has experienced depression before, or knows someone who has.

It is important to remember that everyone has something in their past that they are less than proud about, and depression is nothing to feel ashamed of. Everyone has something in their past that can be cast in a negative light, as none of us are perfect. Try to remember that your depression does not define who you are. If you have suffered from depression and have overcome it, you are likely a stronger and more compassionate person because of your experiences. If you are still struggling with depression, anyone worth being with will accept your illness along with all the positives you offer them.

However, this does not mean that you have to spend your first date admitting to someone that you sometimes have difficulty crawling out of bed due to depression, or that your last relationship fell apart because your partner could not handle your depressive episodes. There is a time and a place for everything, including coming clean about your experience with depression, but the first date is not the perfect time!

When Is the Right Time to Tell Your Partner About Your Depression?

If you find that a new relationship is taking a more serious turn, you may start to wonder when you should tell your new romantic interest that you suffer from depression. There is no perfect time; only you can judge when your relationship has moved beyond the superficial stage to the point where you are beginning to share your past, both good and bad. Certainly, if the two of you have decided that you want to date exclusively, move in together or get married, you will want to make sure there are no skeletons in the closet that haven’t been discussed.

If your depression rears its ugly head in the midst of your new relationship, or if your relationship moves into the realm of serious, you should consider telling your partner about your depression. Honesty is the best policy, and nothing will scuttle a new relationship faster than dishonesty. If the relationship is a strong one, sharing your past (or ongoing) history with depression won’t change anything except to make your partner understand and care for you more. If telling all about your depression causes your partner to turn tail and run, you may be better off. It is far better to find out if your partner is the kind of person you need in your life sooner rather than later. Depression is hard enough to deal with without having a partner who cannot or will not support you in the manner that you need and deserve. Sounds trite, but it’s true.

Be Honest About Your Depression

It’s best to prepare your partner in advance so that he/she is not taken by surprise should you suddenly experience a depressive episode. Be honest about your condition and how it affects you. Don’t hold back- doing so may damage your relationship down the road. Forewarned is forearmed and knowing in advance how depression affects you and what your partner can do to support you may alleviate any stress and misgivings your partner may be feeling.

Being dishonest or trying to minimize your symptoms may backfire on you if one day you suddenly can’t stop crying, can’t get out of bed and don’t want to see them. Put yourself in your partner’s position- if the shoe was on the other foot, you would want to know how you could best support them, and you might feel angry if, after a period of dating, your partner suffered a severe depressive episode and didn’t warn you. You both deserve honesty, and without it your relationship may fail.

Remember, dating is supposed to be fun, and sometimes a date is simply that- fun. Not every date you go on will lead to a second date. You should embrace each experience and accept it for what it is, an opportunity to meet someone new who may (but more probably won’t be) Mr. or Mrs. Right. There is such a thing as Mr. /Mrs. Right Now.

If you suffer from depression, it’s important to enjoy yourself without feeling pressured. Getting out and having fun can boost your spirits and provides the opportunity to meet new people. Having realistic expectations of a date will prevent disappointment. It’s important if you suffer from depression not to fall into the trap of overanalyzing every date. If you find that a string of unsuccessful dates is causing you to feel more depressed, give dating a rest for awhile.

The most important thing to remember if you suffer from depression and you are dating is that your depression does not define you. It is a part of who you are, but it is not everything you are! You have much to offer someone, and the right person will love you for all of the parts that make you unique, not just the attractive ones. If your new romantic interest can’t handle the heat, he/she should perhaps not be in the kitchen! Remind yourself that the right person for you will love you and accept you just as you are, warts and all, happy or sad.