I think what you gf is experiancing is like something I went through in the last few years. With the help of my wonderful bf and a counsellor, I have got over it (mostly).
My symptoms and history are similar to hers, except I was never on prescription meds (they got prescribed to me, but my Mum and bf said it would be a bad idea, and I trusted them more than the doc).
Perhaps you'd like to hear what helped me?
I wasn't getting much, being in the final year of my uni degree, but last year in june I joined a gym, started going to classes (weights/cardio - 'bodypump') 3-5 times a week. That made a huge difference to my self confidence - I felt better about the way I looked, better about myself, more in control (lifting heavier and heavier weights was great for that!). Other exercise would probably work too, like team sports/cycling or whatever. But moderate to vigorous, and often! (tell her she's awesome for doing it, that you admire/respect her for it). Your gf may not want to do it - despite my bf telling me for a year or more that he thought I was happier when I exercised, and my counsellor saying it could be as effective as antidepressent meds, it wasn't until I thought of joining the gym 'myself' that I actually did it, and committed. Paying the fees helped me go so often - I wanted to make sure I got value for money!
2) space and a chance to cope by herself
, or to help you cope
. If she's as down as you say (and I was) she may not notice if you need help/support, so ask. 'Darling I'm really really tired today, would you look after me?' My bf does that still, and even when I'm feeling down myself, it motivates me to look after him (bring him a drink/snack, make dinner and wash up the dishes, tell him he's lovely, etc). I feel better, feel more confident and competent when I do that, especially when he thanks me for it - and he gets an evening of being pampered, for a change!
Alternately, rather than you asking for help, she may benefit from starting a project that's HERS. I started gardening, and growing from seed (that's cheapest), and for monthes that was a surefire way for me to cheer myself up, put myself back in a happy mood... then bf got pretty involved in the garden, and started 'dictating'/'giving advice' on how things should be done... and my garden wasn't my project anymore, and it couldn't transport me to a happy place. So If she starts a project, admire it from afar (Do admire it, but don't let it become 'our' project)
3) You, as her bf, need to look after your own needs too!
Go out, and spend time with happy people. Invite her too, but go even if she doesn't want to come. My bf was in an unhappy job, he had stress at work and at home with me. When he changed his job, he got happier, and I got happier because he was, I think.
4)) I got assertive
. I recognised that when I said 'yes'/'ok'/'I don't mind' when that wasn't true, I resented it, and I held a grudge about it. So over the last few months I have been trying really hard to just say what I mean, ask for what I want, and stop expecting my bf to guess it magically.
5) A quick fix for cheeryness for me was if my bf cuddled me, and looked me in the eye, and told me in detail how he loved, admired and respected me, and how I should believe in myself because I could do anything. Of course, in the darkest times, he had trouble doing that i think, because he was so emotionally exhausted by my depression. Which goes right back to point (3).
Finally, a note on labelling. I went through phases with it - I didn't like people intimating that my problems weren't real - they sure as hell felt real to me. But I also didn't like being labelled as having depression. I interpreted that as 'something wrong with me, my fault
, that I was a failure because I needed to see a counsellor, and I wasn't getting better', and I resented it, because I felt my bf contributed to my issues by always knowing the 'best way' to do something, and always telling me what that was. He felt much as you do, I believe - like he had to help me, fix my problems for me. And I interpreted it as him judging me, wanting to 'fix' me, because he only actually liked me when I was happy, rather that loving the whole of me. Your gf may be getting some of the same messages.
Oh, um, talk
with her about it, as rationally as the pair of you can manage. Consider seeing a counsellor together - even the 'waiting list' effect can be powerful (having decided to see a counsellor, you've acknoleged a problem, and you can benefit before you even see someone).
Anyway, I very much hope you can find something in this long and rambling post that helps you and your gf. I and my bf are on much much
better terms, and thought we're (/I'm) not out of the woods yet, I feel like I I've now got a map and a compass! (...hmm, actually, do
relationships ever get out of the woods? or is a GPS the best you can hope for?