Is it unethical to not tell my partner about previous episodes of anxiety/depression?

A student wrote to me with this question:

Is it unethical to not tell my partner about previous episodes of anxiety/depression? Should I just let my partner find out about it him/herself, or bring it up when I feel comfortable to share?

You should tell your partner about such things. If you want to be loved fully, if you want to have the security of being loved wholly for who you are – the good and bad sides of you – then you’ll need to reveal it and let your partner decide whether to love you or not.

If your partner is accepting of your past episodes of anxiety/depression, you’ll feel more secure in your relationship. If your partner doesn’t accept, then you know that this is not a relationship that will last in the long-term.

All that said, sometimes, your partner may not understand the degree or the full repercussions of what it means to undergo an episode of anxiety/depression. It’s important to use the time to educate and train him/her on how to manage the situation before the next one happens. It would also help to reduce the anxieties s/he may have about how to manage the relationship in the future if it were to happen.

It’s never a good idea to let your partner discover such things by himself/herself. Usually, if s/he were to discover it, it probably will happen when you’re having the next episode. S/he won’t understand what’s going on and will misinterpret and mishandle the entire situation, thereby further exacerbating your anxiety/depression.

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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