Love is as critical for your mind and body as oxygen. It's not
negotiable. The more connected you are, the healthier you will be both
physically and emotionally. The less connected you are, the more you are
at risk.

It is also true that the less love you have, the more depression
you are likely to experience in your life. Love is probably the best
antidepressant there is because one of the most common sources of
depression is feeling unloved. Most depressed people don't love
themselves and they do not feel loved by others. They also are very
self-focused, making them less attractive to others and depriving them of
opportunities to learn the skills of love.

There is a mythology in our culture that love just happens. As a
result, the depressed often sit around passively waiting for someone to
love them. But love doesn't work that way. To get love and keep love you
have to go out and be active and learn a variety of specific
skills.

Most of us get our ideas of love from popular culture. We come to
believe that love is something that sweeps us off our feet. But the
pop-culture ideal of love consists of unrealistic images created for
entertainment, which is one reason so many of us are set up to be
depressed. It's part of our national vulnerability, like eating junk
food, constantly stimulated by images of instant gratification. We think
it is love when it's simply distraction and infatuation.

One consequence is that when we hit real love we become upset and
disappointed because there are many things that do not fit the cultural
ideal. Some of us get demanding and controlling, wanting someone else to
do what we think our ideal of romance should be, without realizing our
ideal is misplaced.

It is not only possible but necessary to change one's approach to
love to ward off depression. Follow these action strategies to get more
of what you want out of life—to love and be loved.

Recognize the difference between limerance and love. Limerance is
the psychological state of deep infatuation. It feels good but rarely
lasts. Limerance is that first stage of mad attraction whereby all the
hormones are flowing and things feel so right. Limerance lasts, on
average, six months. It can progress to love. Love mostly starts
out as limerance, but limerance doesn't always evolve into love.
Know that love is a learned skill, not something that comes from
hormones or emotion particularly. Erich Fromm called it "an act of will."
If you don't learn the skills of love you virtually guarantee that you
will be depressed, not only because you will not be connected enough but
because you will have many failure experiences.
Learn good communication skills. They are a means by which you
develop trust and intensify connection. The more you can communicate the
less depressed you will be because you will feel known and
understood.
There are always core differences between two people, no matter how
good or close you are, and if the relationship is going right those
differences surface. The issue then is to identify the differences and
negotiate them so that they don't distance you or kill the
relationship.