Boyfriend is depressed, how do I talk to him about it?

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I'll try to keep this as short as I can.  I am in a very new relationship (4 months) with a man (he's 30) who moved here about 8 months ago. Right about when he met he was promoted to a mangerial position with his job and ever since then things have gone downhill for him.  I should also mention he lost his parents in the most horrible way imaginable about 7 years ago and clearly suffers from PTSD. He told me he saw a psychiatrist once for it and never returned because he thought it didn't help.

Dating him was great until about a month ago when it became clear he was growing unhappy with his life.  A week ago he sat me down and tearfully explained that he's feeling adrift, that he hates his job, where he lives, and doesn't know what to do with himself. Since then I have been incredibly anxious - frankly I don't know how a man like that can maintain a relationship, so naturally I am very worried he's going to break up with me.  But I am much more worried about him.

Last night while I was asleep he called me twice. My phone was on silent so I didn't get them. He left me a voicemail in which he said that he had been hoping to talk to me, that he was "hanging by a thread on the edge of a cliff," and doesn't know what to do anymore.  We spoke briefly this morning before he went off to work, and agreed to talk about this tonight. 

Depression is not new to me, I have several family members who suffer from it.  However I have never had to deal with it in a relationship, much less such a new relationship. How can I best help this man? I know I can't fix his problems nor can I make him seek help... I would just like to know some tips for being the most supportive person I can to him right now.  Also, I am quite concerned he may be suicidal - he has admitted he was suicidal back when his parents died, and has also informed me that several men in his family have died by their own hand (including his father), so he has a familial history.  Can I come right out and ask him if he is feeling suicidal or is that a bad approach?

Thank you.

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  • Posted

    It's a difficult situation, but as someone who is and has been in a similar situation to your husband, I can only offer what has and would have helped me. The best you can do is listen, simply listen and make it clear you will always be there to listen and support. Never push, never make conditions and never threaten - even if you think it's for his own good. It's a lot to deal with on both sides, but he has put a lot of trust in you by even admitting to you he needs help. Remember it's a very desperate time for him, very - offer to look for a therapist (psychotherapist not cbt) together. A psychiatrist probably isn't the right route as they seldom deal with talking therapies and that's what he needs. Give him space to talk to people if he needs it, and be there to talk with him if he needs that too.

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    • Posted

      Thank you; I was hoping someone with depression would reply.  This is exactly how I hope to approach it.  I have a natural tendency to want to "fix" things, and I am absolutely aware that that is the wrong way to handle this situation. 

      Would you have liked for your SO to have told you she loved/cared for you, or would that seem smothering?  I always feel better when a friend/family member/partner tells me they love me and are concerned for me, but I know men operate differently.

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    • Posted

      Oh absolutely, knowing he is loved is very important, otherwise it's so easy for a depressed person to feel secluded, and that isn't good at all. That's just me though, it does all depend on personality too. Just treat him normally, but let him know you understand he's in pain and that your there to help him with it whenever he needs you

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    • Posted

      Well, I will certainly see how it goes.  This is a difficult situation, particularly for such a young relationship.  I love this man, but I know very often depressed men feel they can't be in relationships (for good reason) so I'm bracing myself.

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  • Posted

    Hi Daylightsa,By all means talk to him.Let him know you care and are very concerned and want to help.Ask him in a gentle way if he feels suicidal.I don't know if you can talk him into going for help,but do as much as you can to help him.If there is any family of his you know you may want to contact them.I don't know if you or he would be willing to pray together but that can sometimes get him into a state of mind that there is something bigger than us that is there to help us,which may influence him enough to seek help.God may have put you where you are right now just for this reason,because He knew your boyfriend would need help and he knew you would/could be the one to help.See if you can get him to call a help line or a prayer line which could direct him to a person or organization that may help.My prayers a with you and so will God be.God Bless You,Bob

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