How do I help my partner with depression?

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Hi there! 

I'm just new here and found this site by chance, when researching male depression. I'm really hoping someone will be able to offer some support to me or advice in helping someone with depression. 

Basically I think my partner is suffering from depression. He is exhibiting a lot of the symptoms of depression and I'm really scared that if he doesn't get help we are going to lose him to depression or completely lose him all together, if you know what I mean.

He is very very angry at the minute, has been very emotionally abusive toward me and seems very egotistical and power crazy. Which is very unlike him and there is no reason for this kind of the behaviour, it seems very out of the blue. At the beginning I thought he was just being a really nasty person, but when I read that these are symptoms of depression, I thought about all the other symptoms he has displayed. Escapist behaviour (running away from responsibilities), trouble sleeping and disturbed sleep, very snappy, little interest in his children, compulsively working, very miserable and down in the dumps all the time and turning to alcohol amongst other things. He also has back and foot pain which seems to come and go. When he has this pain he'll just take to his bed for days. Doctors can't find a cause for the pain and I've read that depression in men can also manifest as physical pain which cannot be explained by doctors.

He mentioned to his mum and myself a few weeks back that he thought he may be depressed. Although when I reached out to him and asked him to get help and told him I would support him through it,  completely denied he had depression!! It's so clear to see for everyone abound him that things aren't right, but he's the only one who can't see it. It's terribly sad. I know I cannot force him to get help and I don't want to keep saying 'I think you have depression' incase I make him close off more.

I suppose I'm just left wondering what I can do? Do I just leave him and hope he realises himself and gets help? If anyone has any advice or has been through the same thing, I'd love to hear from you about your experiences. I'm really at my wits end and don't know what to do rolleyes

Thanks for reading!  

1 like, 14 replies

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Lilianna, 

    I think you're right and both you and your husband know - he has depression. I know it's tough but you need to stay with him. If you leave him, he'll think you don't care. For example, if I arranged a call with my sister and both of us were late for the call, even if I remembered I used to just not call her as I felt like "Well she didn't remember on time for our call so she doesn't care." and it would make me close myself off from her. You need to be really patient and constantly supportive. It is important that you recognise that any of the nastiness is due to his depression, he has probably come to dislike himself a lot and see things in a very negative way. He probably knows he is acting terribly, which in his depressed state, only makes him more down.

    I wrote a big long message in response to a very similar discussion about a man enquiring if his wife had depression. Rather than rewrite the same thing, I would direct you to look at this discussion:

    Let me know if you need more advice after that! 

    Stay strong, things must be really tough on you too at the moment. Just know that the very fact that he has said he might have depression is a HUGE step and the most important one. It means he wants to get better. You just need to take things slowly. The next step is for him to get help. But he needs to be ready to do that. 

    Hope this helps, 

    anonymousgirl x

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    • Posted

      I've just read that discussion and...... Wow! Seems like exactly the same kind of thing I'm going through. Really great advice from you and thanks so much for your reply! 

      My partner went to stay at his mums 3 weeks ago, just completely out of the blue. I know you say to keep in contact with him so he knows I care, but literally every time he contacts me he starts an argument, puts me down on generally behaves irrationally. I know it's not him being nasty, but the depression making him act that way, but is so hard to be put down all the time and feel like your fighting a losing battle sad I'm probably doing the wrong thing but I'm ignoring nearly every contact he tries to make with me, just to stop the abuse. I really do care about him and want to help him get better but there is only so much a person can take!

      On top of all this I have our 3 young children to look after alone and a full time job. It's hard not to get frustrated. 

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    • Posted


      I am glad I could be of some small amount help. Only sorry that I cannot help more. It sounds like  your husband is very stubborn and resistant to help which puts you in a very difficult position.

      I still think that the fact he said at one point that he may feel he has depression is a good sign and that hopefully soon he will try seeking help. I remember when I first started I talked about my counsellor very negatively and said he was useless whereas the truth was that I wasn't doing anything he told me too. That said, he did start looking at the colck throughout the session and showing signs of his frustration at me by week 4 which didn't really help . . . Anyways,  I think cognitive behavioural therapy is better than just talking therapy and if he does get help, that's what he should try. He may feel more comfortable talking to a male than a female too. It is important that he feels comfortable with what is happening to him and he feels he has a certain sense of control about what is going on.

      I hope he sees sense and asks for help, I saw you said to someone else is Mum may be key in helping this happen. 

      I know it's really tough for you but you love this man. I can see where Vickycam is saying about self-preservation but I do feel that you are asking for help here because you still want your husband to get better. I think distance yourself and the kids as you have done so that you get a bit of a break. But let him know you still love him and are worried about him and miss him and that you wish he would seek help from afar.  

      I guess if things continue, maybe you will have to cut him off but I feel you don't want to do that just yet. So let's hope he seeks help soon

      All my best wishes, 


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  • Posted

    Please don't leave him he needs you. If you leave him he will only get worse, if it wasn't for my girlfriend I would have ended up doing something stupid, he needs your care and attention to get through this. His strange behaviour is the depression and he will seem distant and act like he doesn't care about you or your children that is a classic sign of depression and it's not his fault or his intentions to be like this. He really needs to see a GP to get this sorted. I don't know if he uses drugs but that can make people depressed and also drinking to much. I know it must be hard for you to cope with this but I'm sure you must love him enough to try and help him, by coming on here proves that you care for him 
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    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply Michael! 

      He doesn't use drugs but definitely drinks far much. I try to talk to him about his drinking but he denies he drinks too much. Now he's disappeared from the family home I can't even keep a check on how much or how often he is drinking. I have genuine concerns that if his depression is leave untreated he could become an alcoholic, he one of those people who nevers seems to know when enough is enough!

      Can I ask how your girlfriend was able to help you? Did you know you had depression or did it take you a while to realise? What was the thing that finally made you get help?  I hope you don't mind me asking but it would be great to hear things from the other perspective!

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    • Posted

      The drinking bothers me because I used alcohol for many years to blot out my depression and became an alcoholic but been sober now for 6 years. I was depressed for many years before I met my girlfriend and I tryed to cover it up for a while but she told me one day that she thought I had some kind of problem so I was honest with her and told her and she said that I should of told her before but I said that I was afraid that she might leave me thinking I was weak or something, she said she loved me weather I suffer with depression or not and that she will stand by me till she takes her last breath. So hearing her say that really helped me. My ex wife never understood and was not really interested in my problem so I thought jessi would be the same, that's why I was afraid to tell her because I don't want to ever lose her I love her more than words can say 
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    • Posted

      It's lovely that you have found someone who supports you so much! 

      I think my partner won't admit he has depression because he feels it would make him seem weak or not a 'proper man'. I wish I could get through to him that there is no shame in having depression, it just happens to some people. It seems like I'm never going to get through though. I feel stupid too because I feel like him constantly chasing after him offering him and he's just completely brushing it off. 

      I can only hope that he realises that he needs help if not for the sake on himself, then for the sake of his children sad 

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    • Posted

      Yes that's true men find it hard to admit they have an emotional problem because to men they see it as a weakness. The thing is with us men we feel we have to be strong and not show are emotions. Women don't have this problem I'm sure you have noticed there are a lot more women on this forum than there are men
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  • Posted

    I  feel your pain.  I think  you and he should both see a therapist who can help him.  If he refuses to go and doesn't seek help himself then I think you have to protect your own state of mind and leave him.  It's all well and good for people to advise you stick by him.  It sounds as if you have been doing that and where has it got you?  There's something call self preservation.  Also for the good of your children they should not be exposed to his irrational and abusive behavior.  What kind of example is he setting for his children.  They are better off without him until he gets help.  Perhaps your leaving him will motivate him  to take positive steps to to seek the help he so despearately needs.  You can call this tough love, if you like.  Sometimes it brings people to their senses.  Good luck, Lilianna.  You sound like a good person.  Do not allow this man to abuse you emotionally.   
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    • Posted

      Thanks Vicky!

      Thankfully since he's away at his mums the kids don't actually see or hear the abusive behaviour, but I know they know something not right because daddy isn't there. I don't even know what to say to them about it because they are quite young, I just tell them daddy's at work. 

      With regards to seeing the kids, he screams from the rooftops that he loves them and wants to see them, but when I offer for him to see them he hardly ever takes me up on it or it 'doesn't suit him'. I have said to him if he wants to take whatever amount of time away to sort himself out and then we can see what happens he just says there is nothing wrong with him. 

      I've been with this man for a long time and it's as clear as day something not right, his own mum has tried to tell him but we're coming up against a brick wall. I really really want to help him and get him back to being the great man he once was, but I literally cannot take any more of the abuse and nastiness he spews at me. It's like I'm the cause of all his problems sad it's such a confusing time!

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  • Posted

    Don't let your partner break your  spirit.  You are  not the cause of his problems.  Has he seen a psychologist or psychiatrist?  Somewhere deep within him is the cause of his misery.  He needs to discover the root cause.  Not easy, I'm sure, but he has to take steps to uncover it.  In the meantime, keep your chin up.  It sounds like his mother is worried also  about her son's behavior , and that shows support for you which you need.  
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  • Posted

    Hi Lilianna

    You've probably heard the same thing from others about staying strong and looking after yourself I can't stress how vital it is for your own survival. A friend who has MH issues told me it's like being pulled into a Vortex, his wife now has depression as a result of looking after him, it's contagious.  I've had my own MH issues with anxiety attacks and agoraphobia but have come through it.

    I am 9 months down the line, I asked my husband to leave last Septemeber when I found out our daughter was beig affected by the situation and needed counselling.  Depression affects everyone, as a Mum I had no choice but to protect her, she's 19.  I thought him leaving would have pushed him into seeking help sadly it didn't, he also went for counselling with a psychologist at our GP's surgery, he told me the guy was good and had helped sort his head, however, I discovered from the Mental Health Manager of the Crisis team he had told her the counselling was useless!  We went down the route of couples therapy this failed to and does not work until the underlying issue - the depression is sorted.

    My husband did not like the counselling as the guy told him to stop burying his head in the sand and deal with his issues, likewise he did not like my honesty when I told him he had depression!

    We had been together 34 years in a very happy marriage and were a very happy family , our family has been totally destroyed, both children want nothing to do with him.  Although we love him and care for him deeply we have had to make the very painful decision to cut him off completely for our own survival.  He used to be kind caring and laid back, he has become a complete stranger with no concerns for anyone else but himself, he is like Jekyll and Hyde.  We no longer know how to communcate with him and are feaful if we did how he would react, any mention of his MH has him lashing out all be it verbally. 

    He chose work and his career over us but we have since discovered he no longer has a job and has left with very little money so we now face respossession and bancruptcy.  In additon to this I have had radiothera[y for skin cancer and our daughter has had all of her wisdom teeth removed, no word from Dad to ask if either of us are ok.

    He is making life changing decisions whilst depressed, leaving the home, our relationship (has gone from a trial separation, gone to sort his head, to separation and now Divorce) and now his job but as our children have said he's bought it on himself by not admitting he has a problem or seeking help, sadly that's his lookout.

    ONe of the reasons he said he could not be with me is that he didn't want to hurt me emotionally, he questioned my affection and why I would have ever been attracted to him, they do come out with a load of bo**ocks so be aware that this may happen.

    What you have described sounds typical of depression and denial is a major part, according to the research I have done they either don't recognise they have depression, see admission of it as weak, or have a lack of insight. 

    Google the unoffical symptoms of depression courtesy of the late Anne Sheffield,

    You will get the support on here from people who have experience of what you are going through, it's very much like an emotional roller coaster.

    I do hope things work out for you and hope I haven't made you feel bad bout my own personal experience. We have all tried our best to help my husband be he has even shunned the help of professionals.  What is more upsetting is we know we are not to blame, this is down to his job, being stressed, pressure and bulied in the workplace which makes me feel so angry and frustrated,

    I found a local support group for peole caring for relatives suffering MH issues, the support I have had has been amazing, see if you can find a local group, another help was calling the Samaritans, our local MH helpline were useless!

    Take care and if you want to send me a Private Message please do so.

    Jackie x

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    • Posted

      Thanks do much for your reply Jackie. Don't worry, you definitely haven't made me feel bad. Reading what you have said is just like reading exactly what I'm going through. 

      My children are younger that yours but I do feel they are being affected already. The saddest bit is they don't even seem to ask for daddy any more, it's like they are just used to the fact he's not around for them like mummy is. I have no doubt he loves his children but his actions don't show it. He's very very self involved at the minute, the whole world revolves around him and every decision he makes, even with regards to the children, is to benefit him and him alone. Your situation is so sad where your children don't want to see their dad, that the thing I'm scared of, that my kids will make the choice not to see him. Just because he was too proud to get help, or in complete denial. 

      I feel like my partner has destroyed our family aswell. All the hopes and dreams for the future just gone in an instant, with no regard for the family. 

      Did you find your husband started lying a lot? My partner has turned in to a compulsive liar and he was so honest before hand. I can't believe anything he says now! As for your husband not seeming to care about you and your daughter, I've been there too. He had a bout of depression last year (although I didn't know it was depression then) and I ended up in hospital. When I got home I was on really strong pain killers which really zoned me out. I ask him to look after the children and he wouldn't, he said it was because 'I'd annoyed him'. His mum had to look after the kids for a full weekend while I recovered. He couldn't of cared less!

      I too suffer from anxiety, have done for 3 years now since a very traumatic labour with my daughter, it's under control now but there's always the chance of the panic returning because of what's going on at the minute. Every time I get a call or a text from him I wonder 'what next'. I've said so many times I'll help him, he refused all help and denies depression. If I stop trying to help he asks why did I say I care about him when I obviously don't, it's just a viscous circle and it feel like I can never do anything right. 

      I'm just happy I have the support of a lot of great friend and family, and most importantly his mum. I believe she may be the key to making him realise he needs help. I hope so anyway because I'm at a loss as to what to do! 

      I really hope your hubby get the help he needs at least for the sake of your children. I know that I'm just learning about this myself but one thing I have realised is that none of this is my fault, although I may be blamed for it daily. You remember that too. You're obviously doing a great job staying so strong through this and looking after your family. I'm glad you replied to me and I'll definitely be taking a leaf out of your book! 

      Thanks so much again! 

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    • Posted

      Hi Lilianna

      That's good to hear,  I was a bit worried but think it best you know the full facts and you need to be prepared for what can lie ahead.

      My son has said he has never related to Dad in 24 years, our daughter has said why is he suddenly interested in having a relationship and saying he loves them (he didn't contact us when she had her wisdom teeth removed to see if she was ok?) it seems to be all on his terms and when he remembers!  He's never showed them any affection, they are both pi**ed off with him, they've said he's acting like a d*ck and feel it's too little too late but they are both now adults and it is their choice to cut him off.

      Kids are very resilient and they will adapt and get through this, you are a good Mum, remember how a lioness protects her cubs,  we are generally stronger and able to keep our families together.

      Here are some of the unofficial symptoms of depression - do you recognise them?

      Self-absorbed, unaware or unconcerned about the needs of others, unresponsive, uncommunicative, changeable and unpredictable; illogical and unreasonable, manipulative, sudden references to separation and divorce, masking symptoms in front of others, ok in public, the opposite at home, critical, sometimes mean, increased use of alcohol and drugs, feeling sad or empty or anxious, loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, including sex, sleep disturbances and change in appetite, weight loss, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions, feeling everything is hopeless negative and permanent, aches and pains, the list is endless.

      I think the difficulty for them is that they feel everything is likely to be permanent and negative, there is no way out for them and they use forms of escapism, ditch responsibilities  and press the self destruct button on their whole lives.   I have to say in his defense that when I was ill I lashed out verbally, this was because I was petrified of the panic attacks and felt my life was on hold with the agoraphobia.  The couples counsellor said my husband may be feeling like a failure or jealous of the fact I have managed to deal with my own MH issues.

      Oh yes we've had the lying, lying to our friends etc pretending all is well but it may be more about the fact that they forget what they have said as they continually contradict themselves it's called Cognitive Dissonance  - the art of lying to oneself.  I pretty much feel the same as you do, after 34 years I can neither believe or trust what is said.  My husband's depression is down to his job but he's now being manipulative and playing the blame game with me and our relationship.  Be prepared for him to come out with all sorts of rubbish, this is not your fault, he has issues that he has to address and deal with.

      I've managed to keep my anxiety under control,  I get very hot and as long as I can manage to get air and cool down I am ok.  Every time we get an email I get anxious we have now become fearful of both him and the situation so I understand dreading the "what next" feeling.  I can relate to the push me pull me to I think it's to see how far we will go, he probably needs reassurance, they also question your affection so that's another one to look out for.  It's so very frustrating, but what keeps me going is knowing they change their perceptions by the minute! 

      You are very fortunate having good friends and family who are supportive and understand.  I've had a friend shouting down the phone saying my husband is ok which his family know is complete bo**ocks, he's managed to convince her he's fine, I'm sick of telling her he's ill and have now decided not to waste my breath and energy on people who have no idea.  I thought the friend I had trusted could have helped him see sense and get him to seek treatment, her sticking her nose in has led to him denying and digging his heels in further and has resulted in him now lashing out again saying he doesn't even want help from professionals.  Stick to confiding in those you can count on and trust, others will give you their own opinions of what's happening but unless they are living it they really have no idea.  You also need to  remember to use the time with family and friends to do fun things for you and the kids instead of talking about the husband.  I've been to Cyprus, Wales and all over the UK, night clubbing, out for meals, the cinema, a bit of pampering at the hair dressers, eyebrows, badminton etc.

      I do think you have to distance yourself, I know you love him but you need to protect your own mental well being too.

      Oddly my husband's fresh start has meant him coming back to the town where we live, he had been living half an hour away, we would have thought he would have moved elsewhere.  Our daughter, his nephew and his sister have suggested it's like he has some sort of control over us as he knows where we are.

      Sadly we have come to the conclusion he may be beyond help, I am planning on taking what I need from the house and taking our daughter and moving nearer to where she will be at UNI.  I feel guilty about moving with her but she's left home twice and come back, she's a home bird, likes her home comforts and stability and wants to look out for me.  I was quite shocked that our son also suggested I move to Essex to so I could be nearer to him! 

      I have always done everything in the relationship, working full time, sorting house moves for his job and career up the corporate ladder, I am not that person any more, I completed my degree in 2012 and was told by him that I hadn't needed to do a degree!  Illness or no illness I am leaving him  to sell the house and pack everything in it, I am standing my ground and kicking his ar*se and although it pains me to see him struggle and on his own this is what is needed!

      You are very welcome, contact me if you need any support. 

      Jackie x

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