Living With a Depressed Husband

Depressed Husband
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Question:  My husband is clinically depressed and was diagnosed almost a year ago. He has tried so many different meds and none seem to help him. He also has seen several different doctors, but still no relief from this disease. I hate that.  I can't talk to anyone about his illness because of the stigma everyone seems to place on this disease and I hate that no one believes this is real.  My husband is the greatest man alive!

  Prior to this illness, he would never be sad to the point of tears.  The depth of his sadness is controlling his life.  I don't know how to help.

Answer:  Judging by what you have said here, you are doing everything you possibly can already, but I will summarize here what I believe are the most important steps you can take to help someone with depression.

  1. Educate yourself.  Learn everything you can about depression and its treatment.  Not only will this help you support him as he goes through treatment, it will also help you educate others who may believe that depression is not a real illness or that it's a sign of weakness or laziness.
  2. Be there for him.  Hold him close when he is feeling low and be a good, non-judgmental listener when he needs to vent his feelings.
  3. Help him keep up with his treatment.  Treatment is a very important part of his recovery.  When people are depressed, they may become forgetful or just not feel like doing things.  If you see this happening, help him with keeping track of his medications and doctor's appointments.  If he seems too tired or unmotivated to go to his doctor's appointments, offer to drive him and keep him company. 
  1. Take up some of the slack while he is ill.  While your husband is ill, he will probably find it difficult to keep up with things that  he might normally do.  You may need to do extra chores around the house or hire someone to help out for awhile.
  2. Offer him hope in whatever form that he will accept it.  Think abut what motivates your husband and helps him keep looking to the future.   Is it a love for his children?  His faith in God?  Whatever it is, help him to keep his focus there.
  1. Love him unconditionally.  He's the same man he was before the illness.  While his depression may have changed his behavior, this is only temporary until he gets well.  Keep loving the man that you know him to be.

Helping your husband isn't just about what you can do for him, however.  In order to be there for him, there are certain things that you should do for yourself:

  1. Take time for yourself.  Caring for another person can be quite stressful.  In order to be your best self for him, it's important to also make time to nurture yourself.
  2. Get support.  It is only natural that your husband's depression may cause you feel frustrated, angry or stressed sometimes.  It is very important that you seek out someone you can confide in and receive support from.  This might be someone like a close friend, a support group or your pastor.
  3. Try not to take things too personally where your husband's illness is concerned.  At times your husband may become withdrawn or irritable.  These are symptoms of his illness and not an indicator of how he feels about you.  Also, keep in mind that depression can affect sex drive.  If he seems less interested in intimacy, this is probably why.

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