• 8 days ago

    Helping spouse with severe depression

    My spouse is currently going through severe depression. It began approximately 3 weeks ago. He has finally admitted that he is depressed but doesn’t want to see anyone about it because he is embarrassed. I need a group that I can talk to about what to do in this situation and how to handle his depression.


  • 8 days ago

    RE: Helping spouse with severe depression

    Hi there,

    I'm sorry that your spouse is suffering severe depression! I know from experience how difficult and painful depression is and can be, but it's also very hard to be around someone with depression on a long term basis.

    The hard part for you in this situation is knowing and accepting that you can't make him get professional help for treatment. He's going to have to decide that for himself. RIght now you said he feels too embarrassed to get help, but if he continues in his depression, there will come a time that he won't care about that if he's really interested in getting better.

    The only ones who have to know that he's getting treatment for depression is you, him, and the doctor or therapist. The only other people would be who HE wants to share it with. There is nothing to be embarrassed about! He may see himself as weak for being depressed in the first place, and getting professional help makes it even worse in his eyes. Part of that I'm sure is due to stigma around mental health related things. But if he had any physical illness, he would get help. Well, depression can be just as and sometimes even more debilitating than some physical illnesses, yet so many people won't seek treatment for it.

    The only thing, in my opinion, that you can do is to encourage him to get help - maybe offer to help him find someone or offer to see his primary doctor for a referral with him - if he doesn't want you to go with him, that's his choice.

    I wouldn't nag him go to - that usually turns people in the other direction.

    Help him to understand that there's NO shame in having depression or in seeking help for it. Maybe he could give himself and you a time/date in which if he's still suffering depression, then he will agree to get help.

    One thing that may sound counterproductive, but if your husband expresses not liking how he feels, and wanting the depression to be gone, etc, then gently tell him that if he does nothing, his depression will likely only get worse. In other words, if he wants to feel better again, it takes certain actions to get there. Doing nothing won't accomplish what he wants.

    It boils down to that there's not a lot you can do to help him if he doesn't want the help. So you will need to learn the balance of taking care of yourself and not getting wrapped up in his depression while still being there for him as best you can. You can't take on his depression. You can't take personally some of the symptoms of his depression because while he's in it, much of what he says, feels, and does is influenced by his depression. That doesn't mean you have to put up with everything because he's depressed.

    It may even be helpful for you to talk with a therapist once or twice for some ideas and/or input as to how you can better deal with your situation without burning yourself out. It's a thought.

    I hope the best for you and your husband during this difficult time for you both!

      • Debbie,
        Thank you so much. I am trying to be supportive of him but, it is very hard. I keep telling myself that this isn’t him. He is so angry and has been trying to make me leave because he says he’s trying to protect me from him because I should be happy and not stuck with him. I Love him very much and told him I wasn’t leaving him and that I would fight for him if he will fight for himself.
      • 8 days ago
        Yeah, it's hard because he doesn't have to stay in the place of depression he's currently in. If only he could understand that when we have emotional/mental problems, we need to see a doctor just as much as if we have physical problems.

        Ask him if he wants to continue to live in this state of depression he's in forever - then if he answers "no" (which I'm sure he would) then ask him if he thinks it's just going to go away by itself? What is he doing to help himself get better? Does he have a plan of treatment if he won't see a doctor or therapist?

        I say that because when depressed, we don't usually think very logically, so asking those kinds of questions can spark something inside of him. Maybe not right away, but it can start to linger inside until he realizes that he needs help and that there's not shame in that.

        You can be there for him, but please remember that you can't make him better. HE has to be the one to decide that he wants to get better and that he's willing to do what it takes to get him there! When that happens, then by all means, support him on his journey!

        Also, the fact that he is depressed does not give him "licence" to behave any way that he wants to and get away with it. You do not have to put up with any mean, disrespectful, rude or hurtful behavior from him. It may be coming from his depression, but that does not give him excuse. You may have to adjust how you react to some things done or said by him, knowing that much of it is "depression speaking," but that doesn't mean you have to or should let him treat you any way he wants to.

        The hardest part for you is his refusing to get help, and until he does, it will continue to be difficult for you to live with him because he's not entirely the same person. Depression can be be very hard to live with because of the negative nature of it.

        I sincerely hope that it won't be too long before he decides that he needs help, and that he won't care what that looks like to anyone! I hope that he finds a really good therapist who can help your husband uncover whatever is fueling his depression! He absolutely does NOT have to live in that dark hole the rest of his life, but he can have victory over it, and learn how to keep it at bay so as not to take over again!

        There IS Hope!!

      • Debbie,
        I was able to get him to go to Dr yesterday. They gave him some meds to help until the antidepressants start working. At least that is one step forward. He is still unwilling to talk to a therapist. He says that it won’t help. I will keep trying to work on that.
        I think the hardest thing for me is that we have been married for over 15 years and this is the first time he has had severe depression. The rages, hopelessness, giving up on everything, even us is devastating to me. He has always been a loving and good hearted man but, now he is so mean and angry about everyone and everything. I feel like I’ve not only lost my husband but my best friend.
      • 5 days ago
        That's great that he went to the doctor! I hope that he doesn't have difficulty with the antidepressants. Sometimes it can take trying more than one before finding the one that works, but they can also take up to 4-6 weeks before starting to notice any real change, so you have to hang in there during that part of it.

        One thing the he (and you) should know re meds is that it's crucial to communicate with your doctor about how they are working or not working. I have heard of so many people who have been on a certain med for up to and over a year (or years) and the medication is clearly not working for them. I would ask if they talked with thier doctor about it, and the answer was usually no. The doctor can't help if he/she thinks the med is working, you know? So it's important at first to hang in there to give the med a chance to work, but not hang in there TOO long when it's obvious that it's not working. The doc may either increase the med, add a med to enhance it or change the med all together. But it's important to work together with the doc on this so that your husband has the best possible chance of getting on something that works.

        Re therapy - I understand how some people believe that it doesn't help, but has he ever gone to therapy? If not, then (you could ask him) how does he KNOW that therapy doesn't work? lol You see? The times that therapy might not work is if it's not a right fit between therapist and client, the therapist is not very good, or the client is not really ready or willing to do the work involved. I can tell you first hand that therapy DOES work and it's not just for people with mental illnesses, but for anyone who wants or needs any kind of change in their lives and are not able or don't know how to do it without a bit of professional help!

        My guess is that he doesn't want to go to therapy because of his learned belief and/or opinion about it, and the only way he can get past that is to challenge himself by going for himself - not just for a month or two, but to really give it a try with a therapist that he likes, connects with, and is well trained. If one therapist doesn't work out, instead of saying therapy doesn't work, try a different therapist. :)

        I'm sorry that you are having to go through this with your husband, especially after so many years with him and seeing him so unlike himself. I can't imagine how hard that is for you! Well, I can imagine it, but I can't relate to it not ever being in the same situation.

        Be sure to take care of yourself through this! It would be too easy for you to get burned out, discouraged, or simply tired of it if it goes on for very long; so it's vital to yourself and to your marriage that you do what you can to take care of yourself so that he doesn't end up draining the life out of you. I don't mean that in a mean way or like he would do that on purpose, but depression does suck the life out of people, and not just the people who are going through it. So give yourself breaks - treat yourself to a spa, or a day out with your friends, or whatever it is that you like. Don't neglect those fun and enjoyable things for you because that is what will sustain you! Balance! If you give all you have to trying to help your husband, you will eventually have nothing to give!

        Hang in there! He took a big step by seeing the doctor, and that is hopeful! :)