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When Depressed Husbands Refuse Help

By Beverly Wax

(Page 4 of 5)
  • Talk about the depression’s impact on you and your children. Your relationship, including intimacy, household responsibilities, and finances, are also adversely affected when your husband is depressed.

  • Get educated. Read a brochure, Family Profiles (see www.familyaware.org), or a book, or watch a video on depression and share the information with your husband.

  • Use the Mood Questionnaire. Go through the confidential and anonymous Mood Questionnaire (see www.familyaware.org) with your husband that will guide him toward medical help.

  • Seek immediate help If at any time your husband talks about death or suicide or may be harmful to you or others, seek immediate help. Contact your doctor; go to your local emergency room, or call 1-800-suicide or 911.

What not to do 

Men with depression are suffering from a medical condition, not a weakness of character. It is important to recognize their limitations. 

  • Do not dismiss their feelings by saying things like “snap out of it” or “pull yourself together.”

  • Do not force someone who is depressed to socialize or take on too many activities that can result in failure and increased feelings of worthlessness. 

  • Do not agree with negative views. Negative thoughts are a symptom of depression. You need to continue to present a realistic picture by expressing hope that the situation will get better.

Laura Rosen, PhD, co-author of When Someone You Love Is Depressed, says wives need to educate their husbands. “Leave brochures out; highlight a section so he has some understanding.” She suggests, “I’ve noticed you don’t seem yourself…it would help me if you talk about it; I’m up at night and really anxious.” Collaborate together and then go so far as to get a consultation, get a name, and make an appointment.” 

Another way to get husbands educated is to have them take an anonymous depression questionnaire, like the Mood Questionnaire on www.familyaware.org, a quick screen for depression as well as for bipolar disorder and/or suicidal tendencies. 

Steve Lappen, a writer and support group leader, who has himself been treated for bipolar disorder (manic depression), recommends that husbands watch the Real Men, Real Depression online video from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The film includes ‘tough guys’ such as a firefighter, a retired Air Force sergeant, and a police officer. The video shows men that depression is a treatable medical condition, not a sign of weakness and gives permission to men to ask for help. According to Lappen, “Men won’t even ask for driving directions, so we must let them know asking for help for depression is OK. Reaching out is a sign of strength, not of weakness.”

 

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