How to support my husband with depression?

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Hello, I am in a desperate situation where my husband has severe depression and has become mostly withdrawn not wanting to do anything, not showing any affection and very low in mood. I honestly don't recognise him from a few months ago. We have been having relationship difficulties for the last probably 6-9 months and only been married for the last 4 months but have been together nearly 8 years. Things have been really bad and getting worse since the wedding. I think I have added to my husband's depression as he bottles things up and only recently admitted he might be depressed. Since we have been having relationship difficulties I am not really in a good place mentally myself. He has always been there to support and encourage me. I have become very insecure and as much as I try to be positive it only lasts a couple of days before i start doubting everything and i become really upset and we end up having an argument. We both need support at the moment - he needs the space and not having to worry about me and I am oh so desperate for his affection which he is not capable of giving at the moment. As a result instead of being there for each other we make each other worse. He had been away for long weekends nearly every week this month as an escape and trying to 'reboot' but i struggle when he is away. The main problem at the moment is every time we talk or have an argument i understand his point of view but after a day or so my own insecurities kick in and start turning his struggles into 'excuses' and in my head i become the victim and start blaming him again for not being the parnter he used to be. I feel like a failure for not being able to support him when he needs me the most but my insecurities and overthinking get in the way. He had been telling me his problems for weeks but because of my insecurities and our relationship struggles I was too selfish to actually listen and get it in my head how badly he is struggling. Now his condition is so severe i cant help but think its all my fault. Also he says he would never hurt himself but I am worried that he may becuase he is so withdrawn and low in mood. He refused to see a doctor as doesn't want to take antidepressants and he has had counselling before for anxiety but that didn't help as he is a type that will bottle things up and hated the idea of talking about his problems. He is currently seeking help by talking to various friends and from forums. I have also just started counselling myself and will focus on getting on top of my insecurities etc.

Please help me to support my husband. I tried various things like being positive (but its so hard when he is so low), offering tea and snacks and little acts of kindness. I try to hug him, rub his foot etc just to bring back the intimacy but he normally doesn't really like being touched and now tends to become irritated with it .

I just don't know how else to support him and be there for him and I feel like he doesn't fully trust me with his issues due to my previous accusations and they way I reacted to things he had told me (and i dont really blame him). Also, how could i quiet down my own insecurities in order to support my husband? Any suggestions are welcome! I just feel like at the moment i am actually making his depression worse by constant emotional outbursts and also I feel like he is withdrawing further because of that. The only positive is we both still really love each other and really want to make this work. We have talked about this multiple times. Thank you in advance!

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Firstly at least you are talking about it, so that's a big positive.  About the intimacy/touching, I cannot stand anyone giving me hugs or showing me any form of positive emotion because when you are depressed you don't feel you deserve it and so it almost hurts for anyone to touch you out of kindness, a bit like an electric shock is the best description. So even though you are doing it to try and make your husband better it probably makes him feel worse/worthless/undeserving/guilt for not accepting your kindness. The offering of cups of tea would work for me though! Unfortunately when you find it hard to open up (like your husband) it is so awful to talk to health professionals and I spend much of my time trying to get out of appointments, I would honestly rather go to the dentist and have a filling than talk to psychiatrists, cpns, psychologists, etc because it is so shameful and embarrassing so I can completely understand why he doesnt want to see anyone but if you can really listen to him when he wants to talk I'm sure that would help him.  Hope things get better soon 

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    • Posted

      Thank you so much for your response 2006Rachel!

      We are talking but that's mostly me having emotional outbursts and my husband sadly having to explain himself. But I am hopeful in the sense that I have now fully understood that a lot of it is because of me and that my insecurities are contributing to the problem. Hopefully from now on I can get it in my head that he is not withdrawing because of our relationship difficulties but because of his depression.

      He's never been good with touch and he hates light touch (like sensory sensitivity) so even on a good day he's not so keen.

      Yes he almost always accepts a cup of tea and although we have been eating healthy before and since the wedding I am going to get some biscuits as he always enjoys a little treat.

      What else helps you in terms of support from your family and friends? I want to be there for him as much as I can but I don't know how to show it. He is also on his phone a lot as again uses it as a distraction.

      It So difficult for me to know what to do and I am now worried of doing wrong things because of the way I have been so far! sad

      Again, thank you for your time to reply smile and you are not a nuisance or unworthy of anything. Be sure that people around you truely love and care.

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    • Posted

      Can't really help with what helps from family and friends as only one close friend knows I am depressed, my husband doesnt even know and doesnt want to know (he had to pick me up from A&E following me doing something stupid and still didnt ask).  All I know is what would help me is people listening if I did want to talk which I dont usually and tea of course! And I don't know if he reads but Matt Haig's book "Reasons to Stay Alive" has really helped me, it is actually pretty funny in places and has reasons to stay alive which are real hard to find when depressed. It's in my bag at all times just in case.  Also exercise does take my mind off the c**p but only while doing it. Your husband is very lucky (but I doubt he feels lucky!)  to have someone who cares enough to write on this forum, why dont you show him what you have written.  It would melt my heart but equally I would also feel awful and guilty, undeserving, etc. 

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    • Posted

      Aw I am so sorry to hear what you have written! That's awful. Hope you are getting an adequate support from your friend.

      We had a frank chat today and although I didn't tell my husband about writing on this forum (he would hate it) I did say i needed to know how to help him. He basically said the same thing you described about the touch being like an electric shock and said he says yes to tea because he loves it but he doesn't see it as an act of kindness. Lol... men ay!

      Once again thank you for your advice and I am really sorry to hear your support is very limited.

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  • Posted

    It's definitely NOT all your fault.

    ?I think I'm in a similar position to your husband's point, and when I feel really low it's hard to be intimate. It's not that I don't want to but it's not what's occuping my mind and I feel like I really want to be alone.

    ?It's good to see what you wrote "He had been telling me his problems for weeks but because of my insecurities and our relationship struggles I was too selfish to actually listen and get it in my head how badly he is struggling.", I don't know if this is a male thing but it's very hard to open up about things for me, because I feel I'm a unique situation and that even if I spoke to someone about my problems or struggles (upbringing/life experience etc.) I don't have trust that they would understand.

    ?Would it be possible to give him another oppotunity to talk about his struggle/past? Be patient and don't say anything - if he's anything like me it's very hard to put feelings into words, last thing he needs is being interrupted and feeling like his problem which he's trying hard to speak about is unimportant. I had this with an old friend about 10 years ago, and it's made my struggle to talk about myself even worse.

    ?I don't know how to solve your insecurites - but would it be possible to sort of set a "time" where you could be intimate and when you can't? I think he needs his own space and completely switch off from responsibilities and duties, even if it was for like an hour in the front room. It makes it very hard when you don't have the energy to be intimate, but your partner wants it all the time you feel even worse for not being able to give it back. 

    Hope both of you get better soon.

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    • Posted

      Hello Mrk9928, I am not taking all the responsibility and I know we are both to blame for this but I have now come to realise my mistakes and how I let my husband down.

      It's reassuring to hear other people feel the same as it's so easy for me to think he is just running away from me, not all of the problems. There's also an element of selfishness I guess where I want him to be nearby because I am still needing support and as much as he is withdrawn having him here is better than being alone.

      I see what you are saying about the unique experiences and thats whenever I write on these forums I end up with an essay as I think I need to mention so much otherwise people won't really understand what's really going on! Also I guess us girls are different and where we find it such a relief from getting stuff off our chest its difficult to understand why the guys dont do the same. But also to think 'well if you tell someone the weight is off your shoulders'. Problem shared is problem halfed.

      I honestly do feel awful about the way I reacted to the stuff he told me. It wasn't so much a reaction as such it was more focusing on the things like blaming him for wanting to be away all the time instead of focusing why he said he needed to be away. We chatted today and o feel things have changed for better. He was open with me and I asked some follow up question but only once he stopped talking. It was really good and it didn't end up in an argument.

      There's a deeper root to my insecurities than us not being intimate or affectionate. I am starting therapy and hoping to work on that and on getting more independent and self reliant - this will get the pressure off of him hopefully.

      Thank you very much for your reply. It's great getting a guys opinion as I tend to think like such a woman and think... Well if I'm feeling low I'd like someone to be affectionate so it must be universal!

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    • Posted

      Also just to clarify when I said "...and I know we are both to blame for this..."

      Firstly I meant the relationship difficulties not the depression. I would never blame him for being depressed. Secondly when I say blame I mean we both contributed toward us being where we are. Although until recently I would unfotunately blame him for his decisions like wanting to go away as I wasn't listening to the reasons behind those decisions. I'm slowly learning to respond in a more neutral, accepting way.

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    • Posted

      I am sorry to hear this.  Of course your husband hates to talk about it probably because the feelings and emotions are so painful.  It's probably an ego thing too ie he will think of himself as 'weak' The thing is though unless he can deal with the underlying issues it is not going to go away permanently.  It will keep arising again and again.  If he wants a chance at a happy life and relationships there really is no alternative to seeing his doctor and getting some help.  I don't know how you get him to see this though.  Good luck.  x


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  • Posted

    Hi CocoPop

    Going to the doctor with depression doesn't have to end in being prescribed anti depressants. If he explains to the doctor that he doesn't want them, they can look at different ways to support him. Why is he so against anti depressants? They can be a really useful tool in tackling depression and anxiety and can help with stabilising mood enough to tackle the problems underpinning your low mood. But either way, he wouldn't be forced to take them.

    Could he write his feelings down? Keeping a diary is good as it can help pinpoint any triggers that may start an episode.

    Have a look in your area to see if there are any local peer support groups. If you're in the UK, Mind has a really good website that can point you in the right direction or you could ask on any local Facebook pages. It might be that he could just go along and listen. Maybe hearing other people talk about the things that are bothering them might make him feel less alone. You never know, he may even open up to them in time.

    The Samaritans are always available for him to talk to. He doesn't need to be suicidal to phone them and they could have some other useful contacts for him to get some support.

    And lastly, please look after yourself too. It must be pure hell living with someone with depression.

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