Being the Other Woman: What It Feels Like and What to Do

A man sitting on the edge of the bed secretly talking to another woman, representing his girlfriend being the other woman.

Being the Other Woman

No relationship is clear-cut, least of all affairs. When someone is the “other woman,” they’re romantically or sexually involved with someone who’s already in a romantic relationship. This can occur even in open relationships

In many cases, neither party sets out to be a “homewrecker.” In fact, people have affairs for a variety of reasons, some more complicated than the next.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, affairs are rarely just about sex. Researchers found that 62.8% of participants cared for their new partner, with about 10% expressing sentiments of love. 

Key reasons why some people cheat include, but are not limited to:

  • Anger or resentment towards their primary partner
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Sexual desire for the secondary partner
  • Lack of love in the primary relationship 
  • Feelings of neglect in the primary relationship

In the case of the secondary partner (i.e., the other woman), reasons are just as complex. In this article, we’ll discuss what it’s like to be the other woman, what to do if you’re in a similar situation, and how to find support

What People Say It’s Like to be the Other Woman

Though no one woman’s experience is the same, many in affairs struggle with the reality of their relationship. Below, we’ve outlined some of the hidden truths about being the other woman: 

 

“It’s stressful and affects my mental health.”

No one likes feeling like a cheater. Whether the relationship is sexual, romantic, or purely emotional, affairs are tense, stressful situations that can negatively impact your mental well-being.

Lacking a sense of security in the first place may also have negative effects later on. On the chance that the affair becomes monogamous, feelings of paranoia and guilt may persist, affecting trust in the relationship. 

 

“It’s more emotional than it is physical.”

Many affairs are built on connection. People sometimes find what they’re looking for in the most unlikely of places, such as a good friend or co-worker who is already in a romantic relationship.

In an effort to not hurt those around them, an “emotional affair” may begin. In this case, the affair doesn’t become physical—but the relationship may still be cheating if a deep intimate connection is formed.

 

“I should have drawn boundaries earlier.”

Cheating is an inherent red flag. Though the other woman is complicit, they may be vulnerable to unhealthy power dynamics, toxic behavior, or even abuse.

This is especially true if the other woman was unaware that their partner was already in a relationship. Despite the revelation, however, the other woman may disregard their boundaries or ignore warning signs in hopes of something more. 

 

“It rarely works out the way we want it to.”

An affair may feel like real love—and it very well may be—but affairs are rarely the foundation for a strong, long-lasting relationship. In fact, it’s claimed that only 15% of couples are able to successfully recover from incidents of infidelity. 

And for those that go on to commit, revelations about the affair may have unforeseen consequences, namely on friends and loved ones.

 

“I never stopped worrying if he’d do the same to me.”

After entering a monogamous relationship that stemmed from infidelity, trust and security may be in short supply. 

For example, one or both partners may worry all the time about the other’s whereabouts. They may wonder if their partner is a serial cheater or fear they’d return to the previous relationship if things didn’t work out. Fears like these can nurture distrust and resentment, hindering the relationship’s future.

 

“I wish it began differently.”

Suffice to say, affairs don’t begin in a good place. The other partner may have already filed divorce papers, but this doesn’t absolve them or their new partner of the natural guilt they feel.

Other factors may also complicate the new relationship. How does the affair affect children from the previous relationship? Could this affect custody cases? Was the cheating partner honest about their reasons for leaving? 

 

“I felt terrible guilt and didn’t like who I was.”

The role of the “side chick” or “other woman” is riddled with stigma. Regardless of where the relationship leads, being the other woman can nurture self-hatred and self-esteem issues. 

If the other woman also happens to be a married woman, they may struggle with guilt on both sides of the affair. These feelings may further affect their mental health. 

What to Do if You’re the Other Woman (How to Move On)

If you happen to be the other woman, you may have come up with a million reasons why the relationship could work—and why it can’t.

Ultimately, what matters is your well-being. To help you get through the situation, here are a few things to consider before continuing an affair:

 

Identify the cheating person’s motive/frame of mind

Take a step back and examine the situation. Put yourself in the shoes of the cheating person and try to think objectively. Why did they choose to cheat?

You can also try to start a dialogue. Sit down and discuss what’s going on at home. If they say they’re unhappy in their relationship, why? What is the driving force behind the affair and will it be resolved by leaving?

 

Respect all wishes to protect their family and close friends

Affairs can have major consequences. If you’re involved with a married man or woman with children, consider how your relationship will affect their family and how it might affect yours.

If family and friends are aware of your relationship, respect their boundaries. Some people may not wish to have a relationship with you or your partner after the affair becomes known.

 

Approach the person about coming clean and making a choice

If you want to continue the relationship, start a conversation about your next steps together. If they plan to break up with their partner, discuss how and when. 

Keep in mind they may never fully commit to you, even if they come clean. Do your best to prepare for heartbreak and potential confrontations.

 

Do not threaten or force an ultimatum 

Affairs aren’t ideal situations for anyone. That said, avoid making threats or ultimatums.

Not only is there no guarantee that they’ll leave their partner for you, but there’s no certainty you’ll be happy together if they do. Consider your options carefully and whether they’re truly right for those involved.

 

Leave the situation

Affairs can cause untold damage. They can affect your mental health, self-esteem, and relationships with others.

If you’ve decided the relationship is not for you—or if abuse or power imbalances are involved—then it’s time to leave the situation. To help you move on, avoid your former partner’s social media, set boundaries, and refocus your energy on you and your needs. 

 

Seek emotional support

It’s essential to know who we are outside of a relationship.

Put some distance between you and the affair by spending time alone or confiding in a best friend or a trusted loved one about your situation. Try to rediscover life as a single woman. You can also consider speaking to a therapist or counselor about your relationship and gaining professional insight.

Coping with Emote Online Therapy

Affairs are rarely anything like you see on TV. What may have been fun and exciting the first time around can lead to a complicated and unhappy situation for everyone involved.

No matter the circumstance, know that you’re not alone with Emote.

By matching with one of our qualified therapists, you can develop the revolutionary tools needed to navigate and move on from a difficult relationship.

Whether it’s a current or past affair, with Emote, you’ll always have a judgment-free space.

Get guilt off your chest, explore your options, and put your mental health first through affordable text and video chat therapy sessions.

To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our FAQ and discover the benefits of therapy for only $35 for your first week.

8 Major Signs Someone Doesn’t Want to be Your Friend

Two friends that are pulling away from each other, representing a sign that someone doesn't want to be your friend.

Even in a world where communication is instantaneous, it can be hard to keep up with friends, much less make new ones. In fact, our social circle begins to shrink around age 25. Women, in particular, begin to interact with fewer and fewer people, followed closely by men as they enter their late 20s and 30s.

This could be for any number of reasons. From major life events such as marriage and loss to a busy work schedule or a new friend group, it’s simply a part of life for good pals to sometimes drift apart.

In some cases, however, friendships end because they’ve grown one-sided. Maybe the other person has stopped showing a genuine interest in your life. Perhaps they never felt as deep of a connection in the first place, or maybe they no longer prioritize the relationship.

Whatever the reason may be, it can be difficult to come to terms with losing a friend.

As many of us also struggle with confrontation, it may be even harder to identify the subtle signs that a friendship has run its course—and what to do when this happens. To help you find the emotional support you need to move on, we’ve outlined some red flags to look out for below and what they may mean.

8 Signs Someone No Longer Wants to be Friends

It’s well-researched that healthy relationships are important to our well-being. For a relationship to be healthy, mutual respect and communication are necessary. 

Friendship is no exception.

Though it’s perfectly normal for life to get in the way, a true friend will try to be there for you as often as they’re able (and vice versa).

If this doesn’t seem to be true anymore—or you’re not sure where you stand with someone—it may be that they don’t want to be friends. If you suspect this is the case, here’s what to look out for:

 

1. They’re not interested in the events or details in your life. 

Whether it’s a new job or drama with an ex, a healthy friendship is all about sharing. 

Although staying up to date with a friend’s life isn’t always possible, what matters is that you both try to be involved, even at a distance. If you feel that you’re present in their life but they’re not in yours, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.

In this case, it doesn’t hurt to check in and see what’s going on, especially if you’re in a long-distance friendship. They may have had no time to catch up and want to do better. However, if this issue is chronic or they’re unwilling to try harder, the friendship may have grown one-sided.

 

2. They’ve stopped inviting you out.

Another good sign that a friendship has possibly reached its end is if you’re experiencing a serious case of FOMO.

Thanks to social media, we’ve all dealt with the fear of missing out on something fun or exciting, be it a new trend or the latest Netflix obsession. When it comes to our best friends, however, FOMO can be especially troubling.

While there is nothing wrong with a friend spending time with other people—in fact, it’s healthy for friends to have friends outside of you—a genuine lack of quality time can indicate something much deeper than FOMO.

If you find that your friend doesn’t make time for you anymore, and yet has plenty for other people, it’s possible they no longer value your friendship as much as they did in the past.

 

3. They keep making excuses and canceling plans.

It’s not uncommon for old friends to rarely see each other. One may have moved out of state and gotten married, while the other can’t see loved ones often due to work or other priorities.

Whatever the case may be, canceled plans don’t necessarily mean someone no longer cares for you.

That said, frequent cancellations, vague explanations, and last-minute apologies can damage even the strongest of relationships. If your friend has become flaky and their reasons have started to sound like excuses, it might be time to reinvest your energy into people who can be more present in your life.

 

4. They don’t engage with you on social media or have unfollowed you.

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook—social media is not the be-all-end-all to any relationship, but they can indicate a change. Though true friendship isn’t necessarily affected by how much you engage with each other online, a sudden lack of interaction can be their way of pulling away. 

As a way of avoiding confrontation, your friend may ignore your replies, mute your posts, or respond with a “like” whereas they’d usually comment. 

Another sign that someone no longer wants to be your friend is if they’ve unfollowed or blocked you. This is a subtle but clear sign that the friendship is over in their eyes. 

5. You’re always the one reaching out to them.

There is nothing wrong with taking the initiative and being the “planner” in a relationship. That said, it should never be solely up to you to keep a friendship going.

After all, friendship is a two-way street. 

If you and a good friend have communication issues, the best way to resolve them is by discussing them. However, if your friend is unwilling or unable to make changes, then it may mean they’re not the best match for you. 

 

6. They don’t respond to your texts or messages.

As with social media, not everyone is great at texting. If your friend happens to be a slow texter or introverted, late replies may simply be a bad habit. A complete lack of response, however, or a reply weeks, possibly months later without explanation is a sign that the friendship is one-sided.

Messages left on “read” are also signs of ghosting. If your friend is ghosting you and makes no effort to contact you in general, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re not interested in being friends anymore.

 

7. Their answers are short and sound unlike themselves.

To avoid confrontation, we sometimes choose to distance ourselves from an uncomfortable situation by being overly curt or formal.

In the case of a friendship that’s run its course, you may notice a change in your friend’s behavior and language.

When they text you, their once colorful responses are now short or sparse. If you ever spend time together, their body language may also seem reserved and your meet-ups feel a little like a business meeting.

This may be their way of creating an emotional distance. If you feel that there is tension between you and a friend, talking about it can clear the air about the state of your relationship.

 

8. They talk mostly about themselves.

Though we must do our best to support our loved ones in whatever way we can, no healthy relationship is about the needs of one person.

If your friend tends to dominate conversations or focus mostly on themselves, this may be a sign of an unequal friendship. Another indicator of an unequal friendship is a lack of boundaries. If your friend’s needs sometimes take priority over yours, the relationship may become exhausting or overwhelming, possibly even affecting your mental health.

This may be also a symptom of a toxic friendship, another sign to let go of the relationship.

You’re Not Alone with Emote Online Therapy

Oftentimes when we meet someone we connect with, we want to hold on to that relationship for as long as we can. We might put time and effort into someone who doesn’t feel the same way or who takes advantage of us. And by the end, we may be left feeling hurt and need to walk away from the friendship.

Breaking up with a close friend is never easy. It’s a form of loss, one deserving of compassion and emotional support. 

 

At Emote, we offer a safe space for you to explore these difficult emotions and get the closure you need. By working with one of our highly qualified online therapists, you’re free to discuss unresolved feelings, gain critical insight, and discover strategies to build healthy, long-lasting friendships. 

Be it through text or video chat, our team of mental health professionals is here to lend a helping hand whenever you need it most.

Put yourself first for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our FAQ or contact us today.

How to Get Over Someone You Never Dated: 8 Easy Tips

A woman wondering how to get over someone you never dated.

Getting over someone is never easy. Getting over someone you never dated, however, can be a strange and perplexing experience.

 

As much as you’d like to just snap out of it, there isn’t an on-and-off switch for unrequited love, just as there isn’t one for a broken heart.

 

For as long as you’ve cared for this person, your brain has been producing chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine to deepen your connection and stimulate that happy, giddy feeling you get whenever they text. 

 

Combine a fear of rejection, the complexity of an almost relationship (aka a “situationship”), and a great deal of wishful thinking—it’s not surprising if you have trouble letting go.

 

Fortunately, it’s possible to move on from any kind of infatuation. 

 

Given time, patience, and the right kind of support, you can healthily process your heartbreak and start dating someone who is right for you. 

 

To help you take that first step forward, here’s a list of tips to keep in mind as you navigate this difficult—but ultimately beneficial—journey. 

 

 

1. Mute or block them on social media

If you spend a lot of time stalking your crush’s posts and wondering if they’re going to text back, then it’s time to step away from your phone.

 

Unfollow them on all social media. For peace of mind, mute or block them and set boundaries with yourself. Start “ghosting” them if needed.

 

Though this may sound extreme, perhaps even cruel, remember that it’s you who needs to come first. Moving on will be a lengthier process if you continue to communicate and try to stay involved, even indirectly. 

 

2. Keep yourself busy 

Dopamine, the “pleasure chemical,” is produced when we’re in love, but researchers have also found that dopamine plays a major role in productivity and motivation

 

In short, the more you (healthily) distract yourself, the better your brain and body might feel.

 

Though this may not be how you imagined your love story ending, think of this as the perfect excuse to shift your energy, get back into creative projects, and spend time doing things that make you feel good.

 

3. Resist the urge to flirt 

A person as attractive, funny, and interesting as your crush will come again. In fact, you’ll likely find someone who’s all these things and more.

 

To make certain you don’t miss that opportunity when it arrives, give flirting a rest.

 

Whether your crush encourages your advances or not, flirting will only perpetuate the cycle of “will they or won’t they?”.

 

This is especially true if you happen to be in an almost relationship. If it hasn’t happened by now, then it’s time to accept it’s probably never going to.

 

4. Erase old photos and texts

Strong feelings will fade with time, and you’ll eventually move on.

 

To help you along the way, delete every photo and text you’ve hung onto until now.

 

Though forgetting may be the last thing you want, knowing these memories are in your phone can compel you to keep looking back rather than forward. It may be painful at first, but eliminating temptation is ultimately for the best. 

 

5. Make a list of the qualities you didn’t like about the person 

Think back to what attracted you in the first place. It may have been their smile, their kindness, or their sense of humor. Whatever special quality you saw, remember that you witnessed only a small portion of their personality.

 

Take a little time to list any qualities you don’t like about that person. This doesn’t have to be a long list of hateful or mean nitpicking. Perhaps there were red flags you never noticed before or inherent differences that would’ve made a relationship impossible. 

 

Keep this list close at hand. It’ll serve as a reminder as to why things didn’t work out—and why that’s a good thing. 

 

 

6. Focus on your career, family, and friends

This is also a good time to lean on family and friends. While your loved ones may not be relationship experts, they can offer you comfort and distractions as you navigate heartbreak and come to terms with your feelings.

 

Work can also offer a reprieve. As you refocus your energy on your career, remember not to overwork yourself or neglect your other needs. Instead, try to find a healthy balance between mindful productivity and a reignited ambition.

 

7. Allow yourself to grieve and feel all the emotions

While you may not have had a real relationship, you felt a connection, one worth mourning. This is especially true if the object of your affection is someone you can’t easily part ways with, such as your best friend or a co-worker you have to see every day.

 

Give yourself time to grieve and prioritize your mental health

 

Though it’s important to open yourself back up to the idea of love, there is nothing wrong with taking a hiatus from romance. Avoid anything that might trigger the pain and confusion your crush once elicited. Cry as much as you need, binge-watch Netflix, and give yourself a long, good hug.

 

8. Pamper yourself and give it time

After spending so much time and energy on a relationship that never happened, you may be left feeling burnt out or hopeless.

 

Take this as your cue to step away from real life and practice some self-care

 

Whatever the activity is, make a conscious effort to address not only your needs but your wants as well. 

 

This might mean a hot bath, going away for the weekend, or treating yourself to something nice, like your favorite flavor of ice cream or a childhood movie. Indulge yourself and rediscover the joy of life without your crush at the epicenter.  

 

Bonus Step: Seek Professional Online Therapy with Emote

While you may have never dated, it doesn’t change that you are hurting and require love and support to see you through this heartache.

 

With the guidance of a qualified therapist, lingering what-ifs and unresolved feelings can finally be put to rest.

 

At Emote, we offer broken hearts a chance to heal.

 

Be it through weekly video chat sessions or private text messaging, our remote therapists are here to help.

 

Through online therapy, you can discover how to build healthier habits, address underlying issues, and learn what you need to secure a fulfilling, long-term relationship.

 

All this and more can be done from the comfort of your own living room.

 

Rediscover self-love with Emote. Visit our FAQ to learn more about the benefits of therapy and start your mental health journey today for only $35.

 

I Hate My Body: What to Do and How to Improve Your Body Image

A girl looking in the mirror thinking i hate my body.

I Hate My Body

We all think negatively about our bodies sometimes. Whether it’s recent weight gain or an imperfect complexion, so many of us dislike something about our physical appearance that we might like to change, given the chance. 

 

What matters is how these thoughts and feelings impact our body image.

 

Body image is tied to our self-perception. Someone with a negative body image may believe they are unattractive or undesirable, resulting in low self-esteem and internalized body shame.

 

Meanwhile, someone with a positive body image may accept their appearance, loving and enjoying their body for what it is.

 

Much in the way our bodies change and grow, so does our body image. You may feel more negatively or positively about your appearance on some days than on others. 

 

However, if you obsessively fixate and have constant negative thoughts about your body—to the point that it affects your mental health and everyday life—then you may have body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

 

Body dysmorphic disorder is the obsessive idea that your body, or parts of your body, is severely flawed and must be “fixed.” According to the International OCD Foundation, about 5 to 10 million Americans are affected by BDD

 

Common signs of body dysmorphic disorder include: 


  • Only seeing the “flaws” in your body
 
  • Frequently checking your body in mirrors and becoming upset
 
  • Touching the parts of your body you dislike
 
  • Trying to hide or disguise parts of yourself
 
  • Trying to “fix” the body part through unhealthy methods
 
 

To help you better understand body image, we’ll be going over a few reasons why you may hate your body, steps you can take to nurture body acceptance, and how online therapy can help you tackle your inner critic.

 

 

Why Do I Hate My Body?

According to Ipsos, 74 and 83 percent of American men and women, respectively, are in some way dissatisfied with their bodies.

 

Just as all bodies are unique, the causes and emotions behind poor body image are different for everyone. However, there are some commonalities.  

 

Below, we’ve listed a few possible reasons why you may hate your body:

 

Body dysmorphia

Body dysmorphia lies on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. It shares symptoms with but is not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

 

As with OCD, people with body dysmorphic disorder struggle with uncomfortable, compulsive thought patterns. These thoughts may lead to compulsive actions, such as sucking in your stomach, picking at your skin, or in the case of an eating disorder, over-exercising, binge eating, and purging. 

 

BDD is linked to other mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and may also affect your physical health.

 

Societal pressure 

Society has influenced beauty standards for centuries. However, in the age of Instagram, detox teas, and fad diets, we’re more accustomed to judging and making inappropriate comments about other people’s bodies than ever before. 

 

These comments can be especially damaging if they come from loved ones or a spouse. Though they may mean well, undesired comments can heighten body insecurity and warp self-perception.

 

Your body is injured or prone to injury

One of the most difficult things about being human is that your body is fallible. 

 

As we age, we recover more slowly from illnesses and injuries. For those with disabilities, it may be hard to sit, walk, or stand, limiting your range of motion and/or making you prone to injury. 

 

Regardless of the circumstances, pain can leave you frustrated, leading to negative thoughts about your body.

 

A body part doesn’t function as it used to

No one likes losing control. Whether it’s due to age, injury, or a disability, when a body part no longer functions the way it used to, intense negative emotions can fester. For some, these emotions can manifest as self-hatred and body shame.

 

Constantly changing beauty standards

Self-acceptance can feel like a moot point when we’re pushed to worship and pursue a certain kind of body type.

 

However, as beauty standards evolve and the goal post keeps moving, it’s hard to feel like who we are is good enough. The idea of the “perfect body” is ultimately unattainable, encouraging only self-loathing and impossible standards of beauty for many.

 

 

How to Improve Your Body Image

As with any form of recovery, it takes time and possibly professional help to dismantle body negativity and reimagine one’s self-image.

 

Fortunately, you can lay the groundwork today for a healthier, happier body with a few simple tips. Here’s how: 

 

Make a list of all the things your body can do

When we get caught up in what we don’t like about our bodies, we often forget about all the really amazing things our bodies do for us. 

 

When you’re bogged down by negative thoughts, take a moment to write down all the things your body can do. From keeping you healthy to taking you from place to place, acknowledging your body’s capabilities can help cultivate a newfound pride and admiration.

 

Pamper your body

Your body is the only “person” who supports and cares for you unconditionally, so it’s important to thank it every now and then. You can do this by taking a hot bubble bath, getting a massage, or simply resting for the day and having a nice, home-cooked meal. 

 

Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you’re giving your body the care and attention it deserves.

 

Avoid triggers like social media and weight scales

If you’re triggered by social media, listen to your needs and click that unfollow button. Feel free to block any content from your feed that makes you feel insecure or worthless.

 

Likewise, step away from anything you might obsess over, such as the weight scale. The sum of your parts doesn’t come down to a number. Furthermore, you don’t have to hit a certain weight or start a new diet to enjoy life; you deserve to be happy, regardless of your appearance. 

 

Surround yourself with body-positive friends and family

How we see ourselves is often very different from how others see us.

 

Practice self-care by building boundaries with people who make you feel ashamed or insecure, and instead, start surrounding yourself with loved ones who inspire self-confidence.

 

By being around body-positive people, you can catch negative thought patterns and learn how to view yourself in a kinder light.

 

Practice self-love and compassion

Self-love doesn’t have to be loud or revolutionary. It can be as simple as daily affirmations and wearing the clothes you like (not just the ones you believe you should fit into). Do what makes you feel good, safe, and comfortable.

 

Body neutrality can also be beneficial. If self-love isn’t within your grasp right now, self-acceptance through body neutrality can help you overcome negative thoughts and teach you the value of your body without loving or hating it.

 

Love Your Body with the Help of Emote’s Online Therapy

While it’s normal to feel self-conscious from time to time, hating your appearance can deeply impact your mental and physical well-being.

 

Thankfully, with a little time, patience, and the right kind of help, you can learn how to dismantle and overcome body negativity. 

 

With Emote, a licensed therapist is ready and able to help you confront your inner critic

 

Thanks to our remote services, you don’t have to worry about the potential discomfort and anxiety that comes with traditional therapy sessions. You can schedule virtual appointments over video chat or text your therapist throughout your day—your comfort is yours to control. 

 

With Emote Online Therapy, you’re free to explore solutions, develop treatment plans, and discuss other issues related to body insecurity, such as intimacy and relationship troubles.

 

Learn how to love your body and sign up today for only $35 during your first week. Visit our FAQ or contact us to learn more about your future Emote experience.

 

Is it Normal to Still Love My Ex? + Tips on How to Move Forward

A girl wondering is it normal to still love my ex

Is it Normal to Still Love My Ex?

Oftentimes, new relationships feel like a fresh start. Wonderful ideas like soulmates and true love become a reality, and we’ve never been happier.

 

So when heartbreak comes along, our bodies go through a kind of romantic withdrawal. We become cynical yet find ourselves still in love long after the breakup.

 

When we’re happily in love, our brains produce dopamine and other chemicals that make us feel good, and a biological connection is formed. The longer this relationship goes on, and the more dopamine is produced, the more “addicted” our brains become.

 

In short, it’s perfectly natural to miss (or even love) your first love or old flame for a while.

 

However, if strong feelings persist and you’re having a hard time moving on from an ex-partner, you may still be grieving

 

Breakups are a type of loss and may follow the five stages of grief. You may experience each stage or only some, in no particular order.

 

As with any form of loss, you can lean on professional help to learn how to healthily process a breakup and reconcile your feelings.

 

To help you better understand your grief in the lens of a breakup, we’ve listed the five stages below:

 

 

1. Shock or denial

Even after the relationship ends, you and your ex-partner may slip into old habits, exchanging texts and making plans.

 

This isn’t unusual; breakups can be traumatic, and denial is a powerful coping mechanism. It helps soften the blow until we can process our emotions.

 

2. Anger

When we have strong feelings for another person, our love and affection may morph into anger and resentment following a breakup.

 

You may blame yourself or your partner for the relationship’s end. You may lash out, pointing out the other person’s flaws, or resent loved ones for their successful relationships.

 

Bad relationships and breakups can also affect your self-esteem. Depending on the nature of your previous relationship, these intense emotions may linger and prevent you from connecting with a new partner. 

 

3. Bargaining

Restoring a past relationship can feel like the solution to newfound instability and insecurity, whether you truly want to try again or not.

 

You may promise to be a better person or suggest their current partner isn’t right for them. You may also find yourself caught up in nostalgia, sending “I miss you” texts in the middle of the night or calling up an old flame. 

 

Alternatively, you may shift your focus to work, school, or exercise, using increased or over-productivity to regain a sense of control.

 

4. Depression

During this stage, you may spend a lot of time alone, scrolling through your ex’s social media and rereading text messages.

 

While you may not necessarily cry, you might be low on energy and lack motivation for your usual interests.

 

Though it’s important to lean on friends during this stage, they are not relationship experts and all forms of grief can be hard to cope with, especially if you have a mental illness. If you feel depressed for more than two weeks, it may be time to speak to a mental health professional.

 

5. Acceptance

Loving someone and learning how to let go are fundamental life lessons.

 

If the relationship was unhealthy or unhappy, then parting ways was the right decision, and you’ll eventually go on to find someone better. Likewise, if you two were happy together, then it’s very likely you’ll be happy again with someone else.

 

Knowing this, you may still have lingering feelings for your ex.

 

This is perfectly normal. What matters is that you’ve learned how to reconcile your emotions and have begun to reconnect with friends, families, and new partners.

 

Tips on How to Move Forward

Moving on from a breakup takes time. As you navigate your emotions, stay mindful of the pull of fond memories and practice self-care to get through the hard days.

 

To help you move forward, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

 

Stay off of social media

A lot of people fall into self-destructive patterns following a breakup. If you’re comparing yourself to the couples you see online or checking up on your ex a lot, take time away from social media. Reinvest your energy into work and hobbies, and learn how to see yourself outside of a relationship.

 

Listen to music with themes of self-empowerment and independence

Researchers have found that listening to your favorite music releases dopamine, one of the “happy brain chemicals.”

 

Blast your favorite playlist on your way to work and host concerts in your shower. Rediscover some high school favorites, dance alone in your room, and lean into the self-empowering messages that you loved as a teenager.

 

Remember why you broke up

Not only is journaling a great way to process your emotions, but it can serve as a physical record of what went wrong with your relationship.

 

Alternatively, you can reach out to a close friend and get their perspective. If they were present for the duration of the relationship, they likely can lend some insight into why you two broke up.

 

Throw away or get rid of mementos and keepsakes

It’s a lot easier to cling onto memories if we still have physical reminders lying around.

 

If you feel like it might give you closure, return the gifts your ex gave you. Throw away or donate anything else you might’ve held on to that reminds you of them. Though it may be bittersweet, it’ll help you think of them less as you go about your day.

 

Write a parting letter, but don’t send it

To help you process your emotions, try writing a parting letter.

 

Write down everything you wanted to say, from the angry to the good. Let it all out and once you’re done, throw it away. You can think of this as a physical release from the relationship and the power it once held over you.

 

Delete their number and block communication

In addition to staying off social media, avoid stalking your ex’s posts.

 

To stave off temptation, block them on all your accounts and delete their number. If you’re still hurting, do not engage with them if they try to reach out or happen to ask a close friend about you.

 

Get support from friends and family

If you’re having a tough time coping with a breakup, reach out to your loved ones. 

 

Friends and family members can be a crucial source of support during this difficult period, so try to make plans and reinvest energy into non-romantic relationships.

 

Seek professional support

There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

 

By speaking with a mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor, you can get the support you need to move on from past relationships and reconcile lingering hurt or heartache.

 

Work Through Your Feelings with Emote Online Therapy

Whether they were your first love or your first serious relationship, it’s not unusual to still love your ex. After all, they were a major part of your life, and letting go is never easy.

 

Through therapy, it’s possible to healthily address unresolved feelings and recover from a broken heart.

 

At Emote, we offer a safe space for anyone struggling with their emotions.

 

By matching with one of our highly qualified therapists, you can gain the tools you need to cope with a breakup. Through therapy, you can even discover a new side to yourself and learn how to connect with a new partner

 

Arrange video chat therapy sessions every week or text your therapist throughout your day for immediate support.

 

Sign up today and begin therapy with Emote for only $35 during your first week. Check out other helpful posts or read our FAQ to learn more about the benefits of therapy. 

 

How to Talk to a Therapist: Tips and Helpful Talking Points

A man wondering how to talk to a therapist

How to Talk to a Therapist and Get the Most Out of Your Therapy

Maybe you’re interested in therapy but feel like your worries are too trivial for a therapist. Or perhaps you’ve already attended a few sessions, yet you’re struggling to express yourself.

 

Either way, you’re not alone. Therapy is a step in the right direction, but it can be nerve-wracking to open up to a stranger.

 

According to research, 40.2 million American adults sought out and received mental health services such as therapy and counseling in 2019.

 

With a growing interest in psychotherapy, new patients may be surprised to find that “talk therapy” (like cognitive behavioral therapy, aka CBT) doesn’t magically transform you into an open book.

 

It takes time and patience to establish a therapeutic relationship, and it’s normal to encounter roadblocks along the way. 

 

For patients who are shy or suffer from anxiety, in-person therapy sessions can be overwhelming and stressful, even with a good therapist. Likewise, many people believe therapy is only for “serious” or “bad” stuff and has no place for everyday life. Others simply don’t know where to start.

 

The great thing about psychotherapists is that they’re human, too. 

 

As you learn how to open up about your mental health, they can learn how to best make you feel comfortable and secure.

 

Using the strategies we’ve listed below, you can start the conversation today and get the most out of therapy with Emote.

 

 

1. Ask your therapist to explain the process and what might be expected 

It’ll take time to find a therapist you like, but once you do, use your first session to learn more about how therapy works and what to expect from your sessions.

 

Even if this is not your first time trying therapy, your therapist can offer insight into the kind of progress you’d like to make and help you establish goals. These goals don’t need to be ironclad, but they can help you lean into the process. 

 

2. Write down what’s been bugging you throughout the week and bring it with you to your session

Studies suggest writing may be a potentially beneficial therapeutic tool. By writing down your fears and anxieties, you’ll have a ready-made list of talking points to bring up in therapy.

 

You can also start a journal. You can use your journal to record your progress, review what you’ve learned in therapy, and express yourself in ways you may not yet be able to with your therapist. 

 

3. Remember that there is no “right” or “wrong”

Your therapist’s office is a safe place; nothing is off-limits, much less mundane subjects.

 

Mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and eating disorders benefit from therapy, but no one’s life revolves around mental illness (though it may feel like it). It’s okay to talk about whatever you want. 

 

Likewise, you don’t need to be in therapy for something “serious.” 

 

Therapy is a versatile tool developed to help people to cope with life’s challenges, whatever they may be.

 

4. Talk about your past

We get so caught up in what’s in front of us, we sometimes forget to look back.

 

Though it certainly sounds cliché, exploring your past can offer insight into your current struggles. You can use this opportunity to address unresolved heartache, past trauma, or merely reminisce about something—or someone—important to you. 

 

Whatever the subject is, remember your therapist can provide you with tools to cope with even the most painful parts of your past.

 

5. Bring up the important relationships in your life

During therapy, sensitive topics like your private life can be discussed without fear of judgment or embarrassment. 

 

These discussions don’t have to be limited to your love life, but you can use therapy to explore intimacy issues and marital conflict.

 

Suppose you feel that your relationships may benefit from professional help. In that case, your therapist may be able to introduce you to other types of therapy, such as couples therapy and group therapy. 

 


6. Dissect and discuss your dreams

There are several theories out there about the psychology of dreams. For some, the idea that dreams are windows into the psyche may be worth exploring. 

 

Sleep is also a critical aspect of your health. Whether you believe in the science of dreams or not, therapy can help address how your waking life affects your sleep and vice versa. 

 

7. Practice in the mirror

If you find that therapy gives you performance anxiety, rehearse what you want to say in the mirror before a session. 

 

Your therapist won’t judge you if you’re nervous or happen to stutter, but until you feel comfortable opening up, focus on the power of your words and how to best get them across. 

 

8. Discuss any physical ailments you’ve been experiencing

Your physical health can affect your mental health and vice versa. If you’re struggling to cope with a physical change, injury, or illness, bring it up with your therapist.

 

Discussing health problems can give you a sense of control and a way to healthily process negative emotions about your body. 

 

Your therapist may also be able to provide you with resources that focus on physical wellness and how to cope with pain, sickness, or loss of sensation. 

 

9. If you’re not completely comfortable with your therapist, request an icebreaker activity

The goal of therapy is to discover a healthy mindset, not crash land into it.

 

 If you’re not comfortable with your therapist yet, ask for an icebreaker.

 

This could mean going over your previous session, the past week, or how your mood is. You don’t have to start the conversation on your own. Your therapist can gradually guide you until you feel comfortable discussing what’s been weighing on your mind. 

 

10. Request online and text therapy for help whenever you need it

Online therapy has been vital in addressing mental health needs across the country. 

 

If in-person therapy sessions are not an option for you, ask your therapist for remote support. They may be able to arrange digital appointments and/or text therapy for moments of crisis.

 

You can also explore exclusive online therapy services like Emote. With online therapy, you’re free to communicate and arrange sessions at your convenience. 

 

Talk to a Therapist with Emote Online Therapy

Quality healthcare service is an important part of feeling comfortable with your therapist. Trusting not only the professional’s expertise but that you’re in a safe environment can help you overcome life’s challenges. 

 

By working with one of Emote’s online therapists, you can get the care you need from the comfort of your own home.

 

By being in a space you know, you and your remote therapist can lean into therapy together. Learn at your own pace and discover coping strategies, mental health tools, and pivotal talking points. 

 

Find what works best for you: Schedule face-to-face sessions over video chat or bring therapy wherever you go with our text services

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.


Find the right therapist today and start therapy for only $35 during your first week. Check out our FAQ or contact us to learn more about your personalized therapy experience.

How Does Therapy Help in the Treatment of Depression?

A woman wondering how does therapy help in the treatment of depression

Understanding Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that may feel overwhelming or isolating at times. However, given the proper care, even the most severe cases are treatable. 

 

Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), depression is a mood disorder that affects over 264 million people around the world. It is a leading cause of disability, economic stress, and lowered quality of life.

 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is no single cause of depression.

 

It may develop due to a combination of factors, such as chemical imbalances, genetics, stress, and/or traumatic life events such as grief or abuse. It may also manifest alongside or due to other medical conditions, such as anxiety disorder, cancer, or substance abuse.

 

Fortunately, depression is treatable. One commonly effective treatment option is behavior therapy.

 

Behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy (AKA “talk therapy”) where patients and therapists work together to address underlying personal issues and behavior patterns.

 

Therapists may specialize in several forms of behavior therapy, including:

  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT): A short-term form of therapy often used to treat mild to moderate depression. With IPT, patients focus on their relationships with others by improving social skills and developing problem-solving techniques to reduce stress and alleviate depressive symptoms. 
 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Another short-term therapy method, CBT is often used to treat depression. CBT is centered on introspective goals and tackling negative thought patterns and behaviors to help alleviate symptoms of depression.
 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT is a modified form of CBT that focuses on coping strategies and regulating emotions. This may be done through several methods, such as mindfulness, self-soothing, and improved communication skills.
 

If you’re interested in professional help, here’s what you need to know about therapy and what to expect once you start.

Signs of Depression 

Just as there are different types of therapy, there are also different types of depression, such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression

 

That said, all forms of depression share symptoms, including but not limited to:

  • Prolonged periods of low mood and energy
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Trouble sleeping or irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Headaches, backaches, and other unexplained chronic pain
  • Loss of interest in daily activities and hobbies
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family members
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Acts of self-harm
 

How Does Therapy Help with Depression?

There are several ways to treat depression, but generally, they boil down to three methods: medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

 

Antidepressant medication can help manage symptoms. However, it typically isn’t a long-term solution as medication may become less effective over time or cause unwanted side effects.

 

Meanwhile, treatment plans that incorporate psychodynamic therapy have the potential to encourage healthy lifestyle changes and tackle negative behavioral patterns without the need for medication. 

 

Mental health care professionals may also advise a combination of both medication and therapy to target the internal and external causes of depression.

 

Here are a few other ways therapy can help:

 

1. Talk openly about your feelings and thoughts in a safe environment 

As an impartial third party, counselors and psychotherapists are not here to judge or shame you. Their goal is to provide a safe, confidential space to express yourself and be unapologetically vulnerable about your emotions. If you don’t think larger support groups are right for you, individual therapy is a way to still talk openly in an intimate and safe space.

 

2. Identify key life events and triggers that contribute to depression 

There are some things in life we can’t confront on our own. With a therapist, you can learn how to identify triggers, discuss past trauma, or analyze life events that have unknowingly affected your mental health.

 

3. Identify unhealthy coping mechanisms 

Not everyone realizes they need help until someone points it out. As mental health professionals, therapists are capable of identifying and addressing unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as negative thinking patterns, substance abuse, or disordered eating habits.

 

4. Develop skills to cope with symptoms in a healthy way 

Everyone experiences depression differently. Likewise, everyone copes with it differently. Through therapy, you can discover what coping strategies work best for you in a secure, comfortable space.

 

5. Set realistic and achievable goals for a healthy future 

Setting realistic goals is vital in managing depression. Your therapist can guide you towards recovery by focusing first on your daily life and ways to improve your current well-being. Gradually, you’ll be able to build a healthier, happier future.

Getting Therapy for Depression? Keep These Things in Mind

For therapy to be successful, there needs to be room for trial and error. You may encounter setbacks or revelations that are hard to accept. However, with a little time and patience, you may find that even the most difficult therapy sessions are effective. 

 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind while attending therapy:

 

1. Finding the right therapist takes time

There is no “one size fits all” for therapy, much less for therapists. While seeking professional help, keep an open mind and be prepared to try again if a therapist isn’t right for you.

 

2. Once you’ve found the right therapist, the therapy itself will take time

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), many patients with depression see improvement within 10 to 15 sessions. However, depending on the individual and the severity of their illness, it may take longer before treatment shows consistent, positive results.

 

It’s important to remember that this is all part of the process, and there is nothing wrong with attending therapy for months or even years if that’s what you need.

 

3. You might have to make lifestyle changes (sleep, diet, exercise, etc.)

Both mild and severe depression can lead to other health problems, such as chronic pain or insomnia. To help alleviate these issues and improve your mental well-being, you may need to make some changes. 

 

For example, your therapist may recommend daily exercise, changes to your diet, or self-care tips to improve your sleep and relationship with loved ones. 

 

4. You might feel worse before you start to feel better

In the beginning, you may struggle with your self-esteem, fall into a depressive episode, or have a lot of doubts about therapy or your therapist.

 

However, as with other treatment plans, therapy has a learning curve. It may take a little time before you see positive results, but as you continue, therapy will gradually become more effective.

 

5. Go to all of your appointments, even if you don’t have anything to talk about

Your mental illness isn’t the epicenter of your life, though it may feel like it. By attending every session, you can take the opportunity to discuss other aspects of your life and learn how to see yourself without the lens of depression.

 

Get Support with Emote Online Therapy 

Given the right kind of support, depression is a highly treatable and oftentimes temporary condition. Unfortunately, getting professional care can be an expensive and time-consuming process.

 

Cut out months-long waitlists and get the help you need today by signing up for Emote’s affordable, easy-to-use online therapy services

 

By working with our team of mental health care professionals, you can discover coping strategies, self-care techniques, and other mental health resources to help tackle your depression.

 

If you’re not up to a one-on-session, you’re free to text your therapist throughout your day or set up a video appointment as soon as you start to feel better.

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.

 

Sign up today and take your first step towards recovery for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about how Emote can help you, check out our informational posts or contact us.

How to Help Someone Struggling with Anger and Depression

A woman battling with anger and depression.

How are Anger and Depression Connected?

“Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” If you know someone who suffers from depression, you may resonate with this quote.

 

Depression is more than just feeling sad or hopeless. It’s a serious mental illness that affects daily life. It also manifests differently for everyone. 

 

Typical symptoms include a persistently low mood, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and disinterest in usual activities and hobbies. 

 

For some people, depression may also be linked to other mental disorders such as an eating disorder, substance abuse, or insomnia—but for others, depression may present itself through a less common symptom: anger.

 

Anger is a normal, if unpleasant, emotion we all experience. However, in the case of depression, anger may be overwhelming, volatile, and difficult to control.

 

A person who experiences both depression and anger management issues may struggle with:

  • A short temper
  • Overly self-critical or angry thoughts
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Frequent road rage 
  • Explosive outbursts over unimportant matters
  • Verbal and/or physical abuse towards themselves or other
  • Anger attacks
 

Although anger is not a mental health disorder on its own, it can be an indicator of a greater issue and may require professional help. If someone close to you struggles with anger and depression, here’s how you can support them.

9 Ways to Support Someone with Anger and Depression

As with any illness, depression requires love, care, and most of all, understanding. This may be difficult, especially if a loved one has said or done hurtful things while depressed. 

 

Although you should never accept bad behavior, it’s important to remember that depression is a complex mental health condition. Not everything may be as it seems.

 

People with depression sometimes experience major depressive episodes (MDEs). During an episode, their mental health may decline, leading to overwhelming feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

 

For some people, these feelings may manifest through anger. One study in 2013 reported that over half of participants with MDEs also reported overt feelings of anger and irritability

 

When offering your support, here are a few ways you can help without enabling or accepting negative behavior:

 

1. Don’t forget to take care of yourself

To be an effective support person, you need to prioritize your well-being. You are not their therapist nor can you be emotionally available 24/7, especially if you feel burnt out or unsafe. 

 

Take time to tend to your own needs. Practice self-care by enforcing boundaries and voicing your opinions. Reinvest time into friends, family, and interests outside of them.

 

Physical and/or verbal abuse is never okay, even if the person is unwell. If their behavior has greatly affected your mental health or resulted in domestic violence, it’s time to step away. Consider reaching out to the helplines listed here for additional support.

 

2. Educate yourself on depression

Not everyone experiences depression the same way. This also applies to treatment options; what may work for one person may not work for you or your loved one. Research is key.

 

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, major depressive disorder (MDD) affects over 16.1 million Americans and is often associated with anxiety disorder. A different study has also linked anxiety with increased levels of anger.

 

In cases of either or both conditions, medication (e.g. antidepressants), support groups, or therapy may be effective in managing symptoms.

 

3. Learn their triggers

Triggers are psychological responses to reminders of past trauma and may prompt upsetting emotions, such as anxiety or stress.

 

Although triggers may be mild, they can also turn physical. For example, a person with depression and anger issues may direct their emotions on themselves through self-harm. According to the Recovery Village, adolescents have the highest rates of self-harm.

 

To help someone with triggers, identify their specific warning signs. Ask questions without being pushy and note what may have caused a sudden mood swing or an angry outburst.  

 

In some cases, triggers may lead to suicidal ideation. If you suspect someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. If needed, call 911 or encourage them to speak to a crisis hotline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

4. Don’t judge, blame, or attack them

Mental illness often affects interpersonal relationships. When supporting a person with depression and anger issues, don’t judge or blame them for their mental illness. Shame is rarely helpful and may push them away from you or provoke an emotional outburst.

 

However, do not condone their bad behavior either. Honest communication is vital when addressing not only their needs but yours as well.

 

5. Make an effort to invite them out and do engaging activities together

People with depression often have low self-esteem. They may be consumed by negative thoughts and believe they are unloved or hated and try to socially isolate themselves.

 

Take the first step and invite them to go out. Encourage them to re-engage with past hobbies by doing activities together. By being physically present—and verbally reaffirming that you care for them—your support may be felt when they need it most.

 

6. Don’t retaliate or engage in a fight/argument

When faced with an emotional outburst or an anger attack, do not engage with them negatively. Try to keep your cool and acknowledge their feelings without undermining your own. Diffuse the argument by speaking calmly and listening to what they have to say.

 

If they’re acting in a way that is physically unsafe for you, remove yourself from the situation. If you believe they may harm themselves, call a helpline or 911 immediately. 

7. Find healthy coping mechanisms to diffuse anger (breathing exercises, meditation, etc.)

Healthy coping mechanisms can help alleviate anger and manage depression.

 

Deep breathing exercises, such as the 4-7-8 Breath, can settle frantic thoughts, quiet overwhelming emotions, and relax the body. You may also suggest mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is the practice of acknowledging your senses and feelings without judgment or action via mediation. Mindfulness can be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

 

8. Have resources readily available

Emotional outbursts can drain what little energy a person with depression has. By directing them towards resources available both off- and online, they can seek help even when they’re at their lowest.

 

If they are comfortable with it, check in to keep them accountable with their treatment plan. Remind them of healthy coping strategies and suggest fun distractions. Help them with things they may find overwhelming such as filing for insurance, making appointments, or reaching out to helplines.

 

9. Encourage them to seek professional help

Psychotherapy can help treat depression and anger management issues. One study showed that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in treating patients with excessive anger and depression.

 

Begin by gently encouraging them. Mental health professionals like therapists and counselors can provide tools and resources friends and family members cannot. Therapy can also provide a safe space to discuss difficult or intimate topics.

 

If in-person appointments are not an option, therapy can be conducted online without sacrificing comfort or quality of care.

 

Get the Help You Need with Emote Online Therapy

Getting help can be scary if you don’t know where to start. At Emote, you don’t have to take that first step alone.

 

Through our online services, therapy is on your terms. You can communicate when and how you want—whether that’s through text or video chat appointments, Emote provides a safe space wherever you go.

 

Our team of certified therapists is here to empower you and your loved ones. Whatever challenges you may be facing, you can face them together or, if you prefer, individually through one-on-one encrypted sessions. 

 

Learn coping skills, discuss difficult subjects, and diffuse overwhelming emotions like anger or depressive episodes by reaching out at a moment’s notice. 

 

Sign up today and start therapy for only $35 during your first week. For more information about mental health, check out our blog or contact us to learn more.

My Partner Has Depression… How Can I Help Them?

Coping with how to help a partner with depression.

Is My Partner Depressed? How Can I Tell?

When the person we love is struggling with something they can neither fix nor explain, as their other half, all we want to do is help

 

This is especially true in the case of mental illnesses like depression.

 

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. Globally, it affects over 264 million people and approximately 17.3 million American adults

 

As everyone experiences depression differently, it may manifest in ways your partner may mistake or excuse as something else, like stress or fatigue.

 

However, as their partner, you may have noticed changes in their mood or behavior. They may often appear sad or tired for long periods or are constantly unmotivated and struggle to get things done.

 

Signs of depression may also manifest as:

  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Changes in their sleep and appetite
  • Loss of interest in hobbies
  • Inability to keep up with daily activities
  • Unexplained physical aches and pains
  • Trouble concentrating, making decisions, or thinking
  • General dissatisfaction and carelessness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trouble concentrating at work and/or school
  • Angry or emotional outbursts
  • Thoughts/talk of death or suicide
 

If your partner has depression, offering your love and support can be pivotal in learning how to manage their symptoms and possibly recover

 

In this article, we’ll go over what you can do to support a depressed partner and how they can get professional help.

10 Ways to Help Your Partner Dealing with Depression

Depression can be an exhausting and sometimes confusing illness. Someone with depression may not even realize they’re unwell or, if they do, they may choose to suffer in silence rather than ask for help due to internalized stigma.

 

But as their partner, you have the power to motivate them simply through words and actions.

 

To help you get started, here are a few ways you can show your support:

 

1. Let your partner know you’re always there for them.

People with depression often struggle with negative thoughts and believe they are worthless or unlovable due to supposed faults.

By vocalizing your commitment to them, you can help reaffirm their self-worth and remind them they are lovable, no matter what.

 

2. Educate yourself on their symptoms and triggers.

Depressive symptoms may be chronic or temporary, severe or mild. Some people have consistent mood levels, while others fall into depressive episodes due to triggers.

Though it’s impossible to fully comprehend someone’s mental health, by learning more about their illness and how it works, you can better understand their needs. 

 

3. Come up with an action plan together for really bad days.

You and your partner can draft up an action plan. An action plan is essentially a strategy your partner can employ during a difficult depressive episode.

An action plan may be things they can do to pick up their mood, helplines they can call, or ways you can help out without being asked, such as cooking their favorite or completing a chore for them.

 

4. Plan fun and engaging activities you can do together.

According to research, physical activity can be effective in both preventing and managing symptoms of depression.

Encourage exercise by trying new and fun outdoor activities together, like bike riding or hiking. You can also help your partner get back into old hobbies by doing them outdoors. Even if it’s sedentary, fresh air and sunlight can help pick up their mood.

 

5. Don’t take it personally.

You can’t control your partner’s depression. On bad days, they may act distant or irritable. They may snap at you or withdraw from family members and friends. 

It’s important to remember that it’s not you—it’s the depression, and it’s best not to take things too personally.

 

6. Have professional and medical resources readily available.

People who are mentally ill sometimes feel like they must “endure” their illness, even when it’s hard. 

Reassure them that that’s never the case by suggesting support groups, prevention hotlines, and treatment options available to them. Mental health professionals like therapists and counselors can also provide resources for depression. 

 

7. Don’t assume what your partner needs. Ask first. 

Being a part of someone’s support system calls for compassion and empathy.

By asking questions like, “What do you need me to do?” or “How can I help you during an episode?” you’re respecting their agency and reminding them that you’re here to help.

 

8. Try to stick to healthy routines and diets (without forcing it upon them).

To effectively create healthy habits, researchers suggest sticking to simple actions you can do every day at scheduled times. Though this sounds easy, there may be days where your partner can’t get out of bed, much less follow a routine.

Promote wellness through gentle encouragement and positive affirmations. Never push your partner nor enable codependent behavior, as both can reinforce feelings of helplessness.

 

9. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too!

Just as your partner’s mental health is important, so is yours.

Practice self-care by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Remember to spend time apart by focusing on your own life and hobbies. 

If you’re feeling burnt out or depressed yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help

 

10. Encourage professional treatment, don’t force it on them

When it comes to getting professional help such as psychotherapy, your partner may be hesitant or scared. Never force the subject or make ultimatums. Instead, gently remind them that they have options, and you’d be happy to help them in whatever way they’re comfortable with.

What Not to Say to Your Partner Dealing with Depression

Like in any relationship, you may sometimes say the wrong thing. You may upset your partner without meaning to or offer empty platitudes and unsolicited advice when you shouldn’t.

 

Though you mean well, it’s important to think before you speak.

 

When discussing your partner’s mental health, here’s what you shouldn’t say:

 

“This is what your problem is.”

Don’t try to explain away their illness or identify how they are “failing.” Though it may sound like you’re offering worthwhile advice (and you might be), someone with depression won’t necessarily take it that way if it’s delivered too frankly.

 

“What’s the matter with you?”

Someone with depression may be sensitive to criticism or rejection, whether intended or not. When addressing their feelings or bringing up your concerns, avoid speaking in an accusatory and/or exasperated manner.

 

“Others have it way worse than you.”

Comparing your partner’s pain to others (including your own) is never helpful. It only serves to shame and devalue their personal experiences with depression. 

 

“You’re so lucky. What do you have to be depressed about?”

Mental illness never requires justification. People can’t control how or why they develop depression any more than they can control the weather. Furthermore, it’s impossible to fully comprehend another person’s mental health, much less their life experiences.

 

“It’s all in your head. It’ll pass.”

Though depressive symptoms may change over time, it is no less real than a broken arm. Statements like these reaffirm the idea that depression isn’t a real disease that requires proper care and support.

 

“But you seem totally fine.”

Someone’s (perceived) physical well-being is not a reflection of their mental health. To add, people with depression tend to not only withdraw from friends and family members but may also hide their illness due to internalized shame or guilt.

 

“Just cheer up. It’ll get better.”

No matter how severe or mild your partner’s depression is, it cannot be wished away or fixed through sheer willpower. Though you may mean well, comments like these can come off as disheartening and dismissive of their health.

 

Know the Suicide Warning Signs

Depression can sometimes cause overwhelming, negative thoughts that distort perception and create feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness. Such thoughts may lead to suicidal ideation and, in severe cases, suicidal intent.

 

If you believe someone with depression may be suicidal, there are several warnings signs to look out for, including:

  • Talking about suicide/glorifying death
  • Social withdrawal
  • Getting a means to attempt suicide (gun, pills, etc.)
  • Risky or self-destructive behavior such as alcohol or drug abuse
  • Saying goodbye 
  • Getting affairs in order
  • Talks of being a burden or feeling trapped
  • Giving away possessions
  • Taking strange trips by themselves
 

If you believe someone is suicidal, do not leave them alone. Call 911 for immediate assistance or contact a helpline such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

 

You can also reach out to other crisis resources listed here.

 

There is Hope with Emote Online Therapy

Depression can affect many aspects of our lives, including our relationship with our significant other or those closest to us.

 

It may create unforeseen challenges or lead to misunderstandings that make it hard for both people to cope. However, with professional help, you and your partner can learn how to heal and possibly overcome depression—together.

 

At Emote, we offer couples the chance to strengthen their relationship and tackle issues as a team through dedicated online therapy sessions.

 

With our remote services, you can take therapy wherever you go. Text your therapist as depressive episodes occur or develop long-term treatment plans over private video chat appointments.

 

With Emote, you’re not alone.

 

Discover effective coping strategies, couples exercises, and more by signing up today for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about your experience with Emote, check out our FAQ or reach out to us at [email protected]

10 Ways to Help Someone Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

How to help someone with bipolar disorder depicted in a watercolor painting

What is Bipolar Disorder?

When a loved one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder (BD), we may feel overwhelmed or powerless. But given the right tools and information, we can learn how to offer support and encourage them to seek help.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), an estimated 7 million adult Americans have bipolar disorder. Sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that causes severe and sometimes sudden mood changes. 

These mood changes (or mood episodes) may range from extreme highs (mania or hypomania) to extreme lows (depression). They may occur rarely or several times a year. 

For some people, episodes can be debilitating—impairing their ability to function in day-to-day activities, control their impulses, or listen to medical advice. 

Emotional support from friends and family members can be pivotal in overcoming such episodes.

If you want to support someone with bipolar disorder, here’s what you need to know. 

Bipolar Disorder and Depression: The Warning Signs to Know

Bipolar disorder exists on a spectrum, meaning everyone experiences it differently.

Ordinarily, there are three types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia), also called bipolar III disorder. If someone experiences some symptoms of bipolar disorder but does not meet the criteria for I, II, or III, they may be diagnosed with unspecified bipolar disorder.

In some cases, the disorder is induced by substance abuse, medication, or another unrelated medical condition.

Each form of the disorder differs in terms of severity and treatment methods, but symptoms can often intersect. Each is characterized by two mood episodes: mania and depression. Some people also experience hypomania, a lesser case of mania that may be mild enough that episodes go unnoticed.

Mood episodes typically do not follow a pattern. They may not occur for long periods of time or come on without warning. Sometimes, they occur at the same time, also known as a mixed state.

Manic or hypomanic symptoms include:

  • Very extreme emotions
  • Unrealistic beliefs of one’s capabilities (euphoria)
  • Abnormally energized, hyper, or upbeat
  • Talking so rapidly that others can’t understand or keep up
  • Inability to concentrate or focus 
  • Acting recklessly without thinking or caring for consequences
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Racing thoughts

Depressive symptoms include:

  • Irritability 
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
  • Trouble concentrating or remembering
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Feeling sad, angry, or empty
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

10 Ways to Help Someone Suffering From Bipolar Disorder

When a loved one has bipolar disorder, you may have a lot of questions. You may also feel stressed or scared, especially if it’s a recent diagnosis. 

In the beginning, neither you nor the person with the disorder will have all the answers—and that’s okay. The best thing you can do is offer your support and be willing to learn alongside them.

To help you get started, here are a few ways you can support someone with bipolar disorder:

1. Educate yourself

When someone we know is diagnosed with a mental health condition like bipolar disorder, we may be taken by surprise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is likely no single cause behind bipolar disorder. People with a family history of the disorder are at a greater risk of developing it than those without. Abnormal brain functions and past trauma are also possible factors.

When faced with unknowns, one of the best things you can do is educate yourself. While you can’t prepare for everything, information will be your greatest tool if the unexpected happens.

2. Listen without judgment

Another way you can help is by being a compassionate listener. You can do this by offering a safe space for them to express their anxieties, frustrations, and triumphs. 

Don’t try to provide all the answers; instead, remind them of their strength and how far they’ve come. By simply bolstering their courage, you’re helping them face their fears and discover new ways to healthily cope.

3. Don’t try to fix all their problems for them

Any mental illness comes with challenges, many of which may be beyond our capabilities as a support person.

Severe depressive or manic episodes may come on without warnings. At other times, your loved one may refuse help, act irrationally, or encounter setbacks with their treatment. 

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know your limits. Respect the advice of mental health professionals and step back when you need to.

4. Learn their triggers and avoid situations that can trigger them

Triggers are reminders of a traumatic event. They can be caused by external or internal stimuli, such as sounds, places, people, or upsetting thoughts and feelings.

Triggers may be mild, or they may be severe enough to set off an episode of mania and/or depression.

If they are comfortable with it, ask about the circumstances leading up to previous episodes to identify potential triggers. If they already know what their triggers are, ask them to share them with you so you know what to avoid.

In severe cases, triggers may prompt suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt. If you believe someone is suicidal, contact a helpline or call 911 immediately.

5. Set firm and healthy boundaries

Bipolar disorder can lead to poor impulse control and difficulty managing interpersonal relationships. Someone with the disorder may act or do things that upset you whether they’re in the middle of an episode or not.

Setting boundaries is a vital act of self-care. Boundaries also help establish your limits and keep you from enabling unhealthy and possibly dangerous behavior.

6. Don’t neglect yourself and your own mental health 

No matter what your loved one is going through, remember to take care of yourself first. You can’t help someone if you’re also mentally unwell.

Spend time apart to focus on your own life. Remember to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

7. Engage in outdoor and fun activities together

During a depressive episode, someone with bipolar disorder may isolate themselves by sleeping all day, canceling plans, and staying inside. This can sometimes worsen symptoms.

Gently encourage them to spend time outside. Regular exercise may be beneficial for some people with bipolar disorder. If they can’t manage much, suggest a walk on a sunny day or plan a fun activity outdoors that you can do together.

8. Make sure they take their medications

Bipolar disorder is usually a lifelong condition and requires management. Typically, the disorder is treated with medication. A doctor may also suggest antipsychotics, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety medication.

For treatment to work, it needs to be consistent. People with bipolar disorder may sometimes go off their medication once they start feeling better, so it’s important to check in and help them stay on track.

9. Help them find or encourage them to seek professional help

In addition to medication, psychotherapy can be effective for people with bipolar disorder. According to a study in 2014, therapy can help prevent mood episodes and tackle depressive symptoms, improving patients’ overall quality of life

When discussing professional help, do not push or force the topic. Start with a gentle approach. Remind them that mental health professionals such as therapists and counselors can provide support in ways friends and family may not be equipped to.

If they’re uncomfortable with or unable to attend in-person sessions, you can also suggest online therapy. Services like Emote provide affordable, on-the-go assistance for anyone in need. 

10. Offer to go to therapy or counseling with them

Getting professional help is a big step. You can further support someone with bipolar disorder by signing up for support groups together or by driving them to and from their appointments. 

Depending on the type of care, you may be able to join them for a therapy session. 

Get the Right Support with Emote Online Therapy

Though it is often a lifelong condition, bipolar disorder doesn’t have to be scary or isolating. Given the right kind of support, anyone with the disorder can live a full and happy life.

Here at Emote, we offer a helping hand.

Alongside one of our highly qualified therapists, you can learn how to best manage symptoms, cope with episodes, keep to a treatment plan, and more through confidential, digital therapy sessions.

Whether you’re a support person or have been recently diagnosed, our services can provide a safe space whenever you need it most. Be it through daily texts or weekly video chat appointments, your therapist is just a click away.

Cut out months-long waiting lists and sign up today for only $35 during your first week. To learn more about mental health, check out our blog or contact us.