It can be challenging when you’re with someone who’s struggling with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or any other condition—especially if you’ve never experienced any of these symptoms yourself. If you’re not familiar with the traits associated with these conditions, many people can underestimate the impact they can have on relationships. In many cases, you might not even know what your partner is experiencing, which can lead you to misinterpret their feelings for you—among other miscommunications.
Knowing what to expect from a partner suffering from one of these common mental illnesses is key to making your relationship last. That’s why we talked to experts who know from experience what kinds of things can help (or hurt) your relationship when you’re with someone facing a mental illness. Here’s their top advice:
Understand the Condition
When your partner is feeling relatively good and not overly anxious or depressed is the best time to talk to them about their condition, says Clinical Psychologist Dr. Piper S. Grant. “Open up a conversation about trying to understand what they’re experiencing, what happens in their body, and what goes through their mind.” Do some research of your own to educate yourself better about their disorder.
Learn Their Triggers
Grant advises that while having this discussing, ask about things that might set them off. For example, what leads them to an anxiety attack? “Is it certain places, certain situations, when you’re around certain people, or when particular life circumstances are happening? This will allow you to know if something may be coming up for your loved one,” says Grant. It will also help you avoid these trigger situations or prepare for the possibility of...