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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Psychotherapy Blog: Are You Concerned About Your Husband's Depression?

As a psychotherapist, I receive calls from women who are concerned about their husband's depression. Often, they're calling because they don't know what to do or because their concern about their husband's depression has made them feel anxious, helpless or depressed themselves.

Are You Concerned About Your Husband's Depression?

Of course, I also get calls from husbands about their wives, but I receive more calls from wives about their husbands.  In any case, this article applies to either depressed husbands or wives.

Sometimes, I meet with these concerned spouses because they've become so worried that they're not taking care of themselves.

What Can You Do If Your Spouse is Depressed?
Although every situation is different and there are no one size fits all answers to this problem, here are some suggestions that might help:
  • Ask your husband's doctor to rule out any medical causes.  There are some illnesses, like Parkinson's and others, that cause depressed affect, so it's better to rule this out at the start than to assume that the depressive symptoms are solely psychological.
  • Recognize that your husband has a mental health problem that can affect his ability to help himself and he might feel unmotivated, lethargic and, in some cases, too hopeless and helpless to get help.
  • Be aware that depression in men often goes unrecognized because men frequently exhibit different symptoms than women, and also because many men are often in denial about their depression.  Men are more likely to talk about physical symptoms, like being "tired."  In many cases, men who are depressed exhibit symptoms of irritability, being withdrawn, or behaving in a hostile or aggressive manner.  Many men deny that they're depressed because they feel they have to be "strong" and that being depressed means that they're "weak." 
  • Be aware that depression can affect a man's sexual desire and sexual performance.  Unfortunately, some antidepressant medications can also affect sexual desire, so you and your husband will need to speak with your doctor to find out which medications will not affect sexual desire.
  • Try to be as patient as you can and don't personalize your spouse's problem.  If he's depressed, it's not something that he's doing on purpose to get you angry (although it can be very frustrating if he refuses to get help).
  • Your husband's depression isn't anything that you will be able to "fix." You need to encourage your husband to get help from a licensed psychotherapist (see my article:  How to Choose a Psychotherapist).
  • If you're husband is too depressed to get help on his own, contact a licensed mental health professional and schedule an appointment with him or her.  Then, go to the appointment with your spouse so you can provide information about your observations with regard to your husband's emotional state and behavior.
  • Assure your husband that going to see a therapist doesn't mean he's "weak" (see my article:  Common Myths About Psychotherapy: Going to Therapy Means You're "Weak").
  • Rather than pushing your husband, try to take an encouraging attitude with him.  
  • If you husband talks about suicide, take this very seriously.  Don't brush it off.  You must alert your doctor or your husband's therapist to any talk about suicide immediately or if your husband has made an attempt to commit suicide, you must call 911.
Take Care of Yourself
Living with someone who is depressed, can be very emotionally and physically draining.  Make sure that you:
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Exercise
  • Maintain contact with your friends and family to get emotional support
  • Start your own therapy if you feel overwhelmed or feel like you're getting anxious or depressed yourself 
Take Care of Yourself

Getting Help in Therapy to Overcome Depression
With the help of a licensed mental health professional, people who are depressed, can overcome depression.

Overcoming Depression

It's important to get help before depressive symptoms get worse so that your spouse will feel like himself again and both of you can have a sense of well being together.

About Me
I am a NYC licensed psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me:

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