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When Depressed Husbands Refuse Help

By Beverly Wax

(Page 3 of 5)

He reminds women, “Remember, you are still married and at one time he listened to you. Don’t be afraid to make this a fight…this is no time to stand on ceremony. Make a doctor’s appointment, go out to dinner afterwards, be romantic, or bribe him; whatever it takes.

”What Wives Can Do

Totten was able to help her father get diagnosed and treated for depression; but only after tragically losing her brother to suicide over fifteen years ago because he was never diagnosed. She realized her dad was exhibiting signs of depression and started Families for Depression Awareness, after finding no help for families who wanted to get involved in a relative’s treatment.

Totten says she had to call her father’s doctor and tell him her father had depression. But she didn’t know how to get him to see the doctor. “Finally, my dad said he thought he had the flu, but he didn’t. I agreed with him and was able to get him to the doctor under this pretense.”

With a resistant spouse, Totten believes women need to take a similar tack. “Call the doctor and explain that your husband has depression. Explain what the symptoms are. Then, make the appointment for him. Go with him. If he resists, ask him to do it just for you, to make you feel better.” 

Anne Sheffield, author of Depression Fallout,, agrees with Totten. “Denial is very common, particularly in men. They think depression is a sign of weakness, or someone with it is mentally defective.” She reinforces that wives should not be accusatory and instead need to address different behaviors, like sleep problems, “It’s better not to say: I think you have depression. He is most likely to come back with `If anyone’s depressed it’s you!’”
She points out even though men may willingly go to talk therapy, sometimes they are unwilling to take any sort of medication because of a possible loss of libido. “He doesn’t want to be stuck with no sex drive.” Sheffield stresses to try different or a mix of medications and “tell your husband to give it at least six weeks to work.” 

How to Help Your Husband 

  • See a doctor. Ask your husband to see a medical professional, offer to make the appointment, and make sure to go with him or call the medical professional in advance to state his symptoms.

  • Reach out. Find other people to help you get your husband into treatment, including mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.

  • Show you care. Depressed men feel isolated in their pain and hopelessness. Listen and sympathize with his pain. 


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