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When Depressed Husbands Refuse Help

By Beverly Wax

(Page 2 of 5)

Signs of Depression to look for in men:

  • Acting depressed, irritable or angry almost every day

  • Losing interest in pleasurable activities or hobbies

  • Talking of death or suicide*

  • Talking very negatively

  • Acting unreasonably, without concern for others

  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

  • Picking fights, being irritable, critical, or mean

  • Withdrawing from family and friends

  • Having trouble at work or school

  • Talking suddenly about separation or divorce

  • Complaining of aches and pains

  • Eating too little or too much

  • Sleeping too much or too little

* If someone is suicidal, treat it as a medical emergency. Call the person’s clinician, or call 911 or take him to your local hospital emergency room.When husbands have depression, it can tear apart their marriage and family. Wives may take over and hope the problem will go away, or on the opposite end, withdraw, feeling betrayed and angry. More often, they alternate back and forth between these behaviors and emotions. Fifty percent of wives caring for a depressed husband will develop depression themselves.

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Once diagnosed, most people who get help report substantial relief.

The problem is that many men deny they are depressed and resist treatment (usually medication and/or talk therapy). Their belief: depression is a woman’s disease.

Depression Affects Everyone

Dealing with a depressed husband who is in denial is not easy. But, by not addressing the issue, your husband continues to be ill or get worse, even suicidal, and you lose out as well. Depression makes men feel like they are worthless and hopeless. They can’t change how they feel without treatment. “Depression isn’t just your husband’s problem; it’s your problem and your children’s too. Luckily, there are ways to address the issue,” Totten explains.

 “The top priority is to get your husband into treatment. You have to ask yourself, ‘What have I got to lose?’ You simply need to take action for everyone’s sake.”
Terrence Real, a psychotherapist and author of I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, offers his perspective, “Women in a relationship with a depressed man feel faced with a painful dilemma. They can either confront the man with his depression – which may further shame him – or else collude with him in minimizing it, a course that offers no hope for relief.” He offers some strong advice to women, “You absolutely have the right, even the obligation, to put your foot down. You have to insist on good health in your family. It serves no one any good to back off; go to the mat on this issue. It affects your husband and marriage, and absolutely your children.” 

 

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