Depressed Spouse

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Is my husband suffering from depression?

June 2012

My normally sweet happy husband has not been feeling or acting like himself lately. He's constantly tired, even if he's had a full night of sleep, complains that his body hurts (although today he told me it doesn't anymore) and is saying he doesn't want to be around anyone. He's also not talking to anyone in the house, sits and watches tv a lot and seems to be in a general sad mood. I have no idea if these are signs of depression, if he's in some way getting sick (not so much a flu but maybe something with his thyroid?), something happening at work (he says no) or just your average mid-life crises. He doesnt seem to know what's wrong either and our life is fairly steady (both have good jobs, pretty low stress lives). As you can see I have no idea what to think or where to start but I want him to be his old happy self again, and he does too. Is there a doctor you can recommend (ideally near rockridge) that he can talk to for next steps or to rule out what is definately not the issue. Maybe someone who runs tests (to rule out medical issues) and doesn't assume it's depression or tries to put him on medication until other options are ruled out. Even someone who knows he's in a rut and it will pass? What's the best type of doctor for this? Are there any great ones who are good with men who have trouble talking about their issues? Thanks!

Your husband's symptoms sound a lot like mine a year ago, when I was finally diagnosed (after several months) with polymyalgia rheumatica, apparently triggered by a virus infection. The blood markers I had were for high sedimentation rate, anemia, and high C-reactive protein, in the absence of other diagnoses (e.g. cancer, leukemia, rheumatism) for conditions that also have these inflammation markers. I was referred to a rheumatologist, who recommended prednisone, but I elected to avoid that and instead took turmeric root daily and the inflammation cleared up by the end of last year. I still have lingering pain and tiredness, though not so severe, for which I am taking Cymbalta (for ''central sensitivity syndrome'') which may be doing some good (it's too early for me to tell).

My experience my have no relevance, but after eliminating cancer, rheumatism, and other more serious physical ailments, it would be important to also rule out polymalgia rheumatica or other auto-immune disorders, given how familiar your husband's symptoms sound to me. Good luck!

Any hope for a relationship with depressed partner

May 2010

I live with a severely depressed man who won't help himself. I want to know if anyone has turned around a relationship like this? We have done counseling. I've read a zillion books about how to change myself, my words, be gentler, listen better, appreciate love languages, get out of drama triangles, & so on. He's gained 60 pounds, so I cook healthy meals & make time every day for family exercise (he no-shows).

So I 1) haven't wanted to give up on a person that, although I am not ''feeling in love'' with him right now, I do care for him & remember the man I fell in love with 2) wanted to be sure I'd exhausted -every- possible idea 3) splitting.

Because he's so checked out, I end up doing everything, all of the care & enrichment of our 4.5 YO daughter (in addition to working FT), housework, dinner every night. He's on the computer. Interrupted, he snips and snipes. He is judgmental and, despite not putting energy into the family unit, judges what I do and skulk around the house if I ''make a mistake.''

We have had sex 4 times in 5 years. He asks about my day (I have a very cool job) maybe once every 2 months. I've set up dates, he manages to wreck them over a perceived slight of some kind... I ask for dates, they don't materialize. He doesn't pay bills on time. I haven't had a ''Hi, honey, I'm home'' kiss on the cheek ever. Heck, he will wake up and proceed to just wreck the good times that everyone was having with his terrible mood. He's gained probably 60 pounds, can't go to the park with us, he doesn't get out of bed until 1030 and then slumps off to coffee alone, spends day and night on the computer downloading album cover art for his itunes library. How can I wake him up? He says he hears me but then the changes don't materialize...

My job, friends, daughter, fitness, looks--all are the best of my life. But I come home and there's just nothing there. No conversation. No connection. Almost nobody.

He confirms that he can clearly hear me without feeling nagged, bothered, berated, and that he hears me coming from a place of love, wanting our relationship to work out, and from a place of utter frustration and not being able to tolerate the way things are... And then, after a week of ''good-ish times'' where we maybe go to dinner and watch a movie, he is back to the lonely place. And so on.

Thoughts? Otherwise, short of a miracle, I think it's time for me to go... I am out of ideas. - sigh

And you are still with this guy, why? Do you know what a codependent is? How to set limits? Have issues with self esteem and self worth? Do you come from a dysfunctional family with a parent like him? He is not going to change. He will use your life up until you reach your 40s - 50s and you will wake up one day and realize you threw away your life on him. But get a really good divorce lawyer, as I've heard horror stories of women like you ordered by judges to pay ALIMONY to losers and users like him. In fact maybe your husband is betting on getting a settlement or alimony from you when you do finally find enough self- respect to dump him. You have done everything possible, you are not responsible for his behavior. Dan Savage has a colorful phrase for what you should do .... Please leave him and find a good therapist and get a normal life, with healthy relationships, before your child thinks THIS is normal and what she should expect to have in her own life! Anonymous

First off, been there. Not exactly the same situation, but I can relate.

Second, I think you know the answer to your question. Even if he did ''change'' (IE motivated himself to find a therapist, start medication, actually do some of the things you'd like him to - which seems incredibly UNlikely) I can't imagine that you could get over the resentment of the disproportionate burden that you have carried (I know I couldn't).

Third, I don't know how old you are but LIFE IS TOO SHORT. I know yours is just one side of the story but you are clearly unhappy and you have clearly tried.

FINALLY, to some degree your dynamic is enabling him. He doesn't have to motivate to change and/or take care of himself because you are doing everything (you didn't mention if he works?).

Obviously I don't know all the details but it sounds horrible and personally since I split from my ex (5 mo ago) I am so much happier not to have to deal with the frustration, anger, resentment and disappointment on a daily basis. Good luck. Alone, free and happy

I have had amazing results with neurofeedback for depression. I have been able to go off medication and I wake up looking forward to my day. The therapist I work with has added this recently to her practice after years of working with trauma survivors and feeling frustrated with how much time it was taking for her clients to improve. I've also benefited from EMDR for the PTSD symptoms. Ruth Cohn, MFT, 510 653-6256. She has also done amazing couple's and family work for our family of 3 (daughter now 18). No talking or effort is required for the neurofeedback other than showing up twice a week for 40 minutes. anon

time to go. if for no other reason, so your daughter isn't damaged for life by his depressive behavior. Living w/ a depressed parent increases the possibility of becoming depressed in the future, bc the child learns depressive behaviors. and of course for you, you deserve better. also leaving him might actually improve his life, wake him up. and if it doesn't, well, that's his responsibility anon

Wow, reading your post was like opening up one of my journals from the three years I was married to a very depressed (and agoraphobia, high-anxiety, 10-years-sober alcoholic) husband. I too stayed because I wanted to be sure I'd exhausted every option, and while that has given me peace of mind since, at the time I only exhausted myself to no avail. We tried about 10 different meds, acupuncture with a specialist, individual/joint counseling, CBT group sessions for him (so helpful but then he'd stop practicing what he'd learned), multiple psychiatrists for meds/diagnosis, NAMI peer group training for me...I'm sure I'm forgetting something. My husband did not go back to being the wonderful man I'd met, and in retrospect, it appears to me that I met him during a very short, rare period of stability. I've seen his Social Security statement since and he was only earning money in the two years before we met. That told me a lot. That man I fell in love with, who had a job and was reliable, was an illusion. I'm not sure who the real man was, and I don't think he knows either.

Oh, I remember the sniping and snapping (would go on for weeks), and then the occasional good hours, days or a week, and then the awfulness when he went back to his depressed, angry self. It's like being in an abusive relationship, where the good times (rare as they are) make you think it might be okay. After all the years you've tried, you can see it's not going to be.

I found leaving to be incredibly difficult, and I didn't even have a child with my husband. In the end, he was the one who left, and I am grateful to him for it. I think it's time to say it's over. Your life will improve massively, and so will your child's (my own father had similar problems and I used to wish he wouldn't come home at night because our home was so much nicer without him). You cannot save him; you've tried, and it hasn't worked. Perhaps your leaving will be a wake-up call for him, although it probably won't. I wrote an essay about my experience once, and compared it to watching someone drown and being unable to help. It's awful. But you owe it to your daughter to move on. My mother stayed married to my mentally ill father until he died, and I was angry with her for years over it--until I married someone similar, and saw what it's really like. You can contact me directly if you want. emguralnick [at] Thank god I got out

Does he have this attitude toward you only or toward life and others as well? If it is toward you only, it means you are the cause of his triggers and he is minimizing his contacts with you. If he is in general lost interest or motivation toward life then, he needs to seek professional help from a specialist of the area. I strongly believe spirituality and selfless activities plays a big role in people's inner happiness and increases motivation in life. I know it is not easy to be on your shoes, and I admire your attitude toward your marriage to solve rather than take the easy road. Also remember we all have our share of challenges and suffering in life more or less which make us more polished at the end. God bless you & your family MM

Your husbands behavior sounds familiar. I have no idea if this is your husbands situation but I will throw it out there. I think it is fairly common for men who want out of relationships, to continually treat their partners poorly in hopes that they will leave them. It's the ''nice guy'' syndrome. He doesn't want to be the bad guy or maybe just isn't assertive or self-aware enough to know that he wants out. Slowly and eventually it gets so bad that the woman leaves him. You leaving him may be what he needs to move into a better life, he's just too depressed to see that.

May I also say, yeah for you, super wife! I am so impressed with all you have done to keep you, your marriage, your child, your job on track. I am sorry your husband does not see what a fabulous person you are, but there are others (even strangers like me) who can see how awesome you are! Torie

Wow, you doing it all and you have tried to help him and he's still not trying. If I were you, I will stop with whatever I'm doing for him, like all the cooking. Looks like he is spoiled by you and that is why he's so comfortable doing what he's doing. And if communicating and no progress is shown from him, then it's time to move on cause you deserve better. becky

It sounds to me like you have been the best partner you could be. Now time to take care of yourself. Perhaps the best thing you could do for your husband is to give him the wakeup call of quitting all your ''helping'' and focusing on your own needs. Doing without your constant support might induce him to get help on his own. In any case, it will improve your own life to stop focusing on his needs and turn to your own. It will free energy for your child as well. Isadora

I feel for you! Your post says you are trying to connect, be 'good' and do The right things. Yet there is some resentment in your post and a tally of What you have done. When you keep a mental tally of what you're doing, it Often doesn't motivate the other partner and can have the opposite Effect. Be honest about expectations, pressure and the need to be right. Stop doing all these things however wonderful and ask yourself if you want to Work it out or just want to have permission to go. You sound checked out when you talk about your feelings. Looking back in your relationship what was your courtship like? Did he listen way back when or did he just have it together? Review events And look back at when he started to get down. Is there a pattern to his ups and Downs? He may be numb because of depression and media. My advisor always said that Depression is conserving energy. And as his wife (and mother of your child) you Want his time energy and focus, but he made need help to have anything to give. Try stating your needs first to yourself on paper (and your history how you felt, what you loved most About him and when your feelings changed). My guess is you are both lonely, And maybe he is having trouble with highs and lows or Grief/loss, whatever it is. Then start stating your needs straight out if you want Companionship and you miss him, if there is an interest that you shared and no Longer do then ask to do it again. Set some limits and say I will do this and this But you need to pick some responsibilities too and give him some options. What Household stuff did he used to do? Is there a father daughter activity he can Do with her once a week? I send my other half with child to ballet and he loves W/her and she loves it. Ask open ended questions like what you can do to help, what he needs to be happy, and what he would be doing if He only had one year left to live. Have him read alicia's story on sfgate. Consider Finding a counselor who is a better fit. If he's unhappy in his career maybe he can make a change. Decide if you want to work it through, and if you decide that you are truly at the end of your rope give a Time limit (to leave, go to the doctor as he may need medical help) and stick to it. Take care of yourself and your resentment so that you Can do your part to set the stage for change. I do not mean to belittle your efforts Or to minimize how hard this is. In short, yes I believe there's hope; by the way Read John Gottman too. You can write me if you like. born in the year of the dog

Sounds like Hope was gone years ago. Sounds like you have tried everything you can for him and your family. If you feel that is true, then end the relationship. AA

I applaud your efforts, perseverance and love but when I read your words what I picture is the 2 of you adrift at sea and he is clinging to you. The problem is that if this persists you will both drown. Let him go. He needs to find his own way. And yes something could spark and awaken in him in any moment but that is not something that you can do for him.

Sit down with him at a time when there will be no distractions and invite him to look deeply within himself and ask the question, ''What do I want this life to be?'' It is possible for him to connect with the part of him that is capable of living an inspired life. Perhaps the shock of your leaving will be significant enough to wake this up but it won't come from you asking for it (as you have seen it doesn't last). I know leaving is painful for all involved but the status quo sounds like something worse.

I wish you well. As part of the global community I want you to step out and fly. I wish that for him as well once he has his wings but you may not be able to do it together. bird lover

I've been there, and I recognize so much in your situation, and I believe you need to leave your husband in order to save yourself and protect your child.

I have slogged through 8 years of my husband's depression; I stay because he has been in therapy for the last 6 years, going 2-3 times a week, and I am finally starting to see glimmers of the man I remember from 25 years ago. He is on the mend. But those years are lost and wasted and were a joyless bleak existence that slowly chipped away at my self-confidence and finally managed to drain my innate optimism and spirit. I am a changed person, and not for the better.

If your husband isn't even at the point of seeking professional help and making the intensive and expensive commitment to trying to get better, you don't have a chance. There isn't a thing you can do to help him yourself -- stop trying. Depression of that magnitude isn't a self-help situation.

Leaving him may in fact be the shock that pushes him to seek help, but don't do it for that reason. Leave him because you owe it to yourself, but most importantly you owe it to your child. I grew up with a depressed mother and a father walking on eggshells and I have few happy memories.

You've given it a valiant effort, now go and don't feel bad about it. He is the only one who can help himself. In the meantime, his misery is a danger to you and your child. Be brave and walk out into the sunshine. Been there.

You should go. Now! I can't believe you catered to him this long. Why? Because you can? Because you feel sorry for him or because you or your parents think you are supposed to stay with a man you once chose? Why should he makes changes when you cover everything for him? He's got it made. Detach or he will never leave his comfort zone. We learn and grow when we are outside our comfort zones. Anonymous

Unburden yourself and your child. You are being used and abused. You are already a single parent, so you cannot be worse off. You have tried to bring him back into the relationship. He has to make the effort to change, go on an antidepressant, help out, seek help, at least to make you happier. I've been him. An antidepressant got me out of the pit so that I could make other changes. But my partner finally gave me sort of an ultimatum to do that or split up. I'm grateful. See an attorney before you discuss with him breaking up, because if he is just using you, he will continue attempt to get you to support him after the break-up, too. (Been there, too.)

Unless he is willing to treat (therapy, medication, or a combination), then no, there is no hope. It is out of your hands. You are behaving with him (modifying your behavior) the same as the spouse of an alcoholic. It is NOT up to you to behave in a way that impacts him to change his behavior. He behaves that way because he has a chronic illness (depression), and nothing you can do--I repeat, nothing--will change him. He can only change himself.

The difficult part is that I am sure you love him--but don't be confused: you can love him but not the way he behaves, and not the part with the illness. There is research on the long-term, extremely negative effects of living with a depressed parent on children. Leave him, for your sake and for your daughter's. anon

It sounds like you have done way more than most people would, and gotten very little response -- I would definitely strongly consider splitting up. You have your whole life ahead of you -- you deserve better! And your daughter will survive it (and would probably develop a healthier sense of what relationships can be if she witnesses a different one from this!) Best of luck to you.

Sounds to me like anti-depressants may help him. Has he ever tried them? I don't know if you can get him to try them, but they may help. People usually have to experiment with different kinds before they find the one that works best for them though. Does he work? Is he a stay-at-home dad? Maybe his psyche can't take the SAHD scene. (You'll note how the acronym reads.) Sounds to me like he needs a chemical uplift and work outside the home. Julie

You haven't posted even one good quality about this person, not even something from the past. The man you fell in love with back in the day, whoever he was, doesn't seem to be the same man you are currently having a non- relationship with. All around, he seems to be a total non- participant in your life, which aside from coming home to him sounds rather fulfilling. I'd say, based upon your posting, that your relationship with him is over and has been for a long time and you would be much better off letting him go. Anon

I really feel for you. I've spent 7 years in a relationship that is somewhat similar but to a greatly reduced degree. The difference is that my partner's working hard to get out of his depressive behaviors. His past led him to the point where he is today: a history of at least 15 miserable years spent trying to believe nothing was wrong, a wrecked family, an ultimately unsatisfying affair (as not feeling good became a rejection of wife/home), failed psychotherapy and marriage counseling. I believe the only thing that made my partner change was the shock of the collapse of his 1st marriage, which allowed him to see the damage he'd wrought on his kids, and to realize that he didn't want to be miserable all the time. He's not ''cured'' but has learned to work hard and constantly on relationship stuff: communication, working not to be negative and condemning of everything all the time. Sadly, It sounds like your husband's not there yet.

With this background (and my own past history of depression), I suggest you reach your decision after considering the behavioral example he (and you) are modeling for your daughter, as it sounds like it may be unhealthy for her. And check your own vitals: Is his behavior destructive to you? I respectfully suggest that until he's able to receive/benefit from help or to stand up and fight through his struggles, he may harm those closest to him. You can't ''make him better'' by suffering with him. I hope you'll honor your and your daughter's right to live happily, without supporting your husband's burden. This may sound uncaring, but know that I offer my thoughts as a mother who saw how my major depressive episode hurt my now-grown son (YEARS of work to recover our relationship after that), I wish you all the best. Wishing you much happiness

This situation surely has gone on long enough! I'm sorry that the therapist wasn't able to help. You need an end-run around your husband's un-sustained attempts to change. I suggest that you challenge him and set a limit indicating you will end the relationship in ? # of weeks (be specific) if he hasn't found a therapy that he can commit to. -Your child deserves a healthy father role model, and you deserve the partner you long for. Leaving is an option for you, but what really needs to happen most is the solution of the problem, if your child is to ever really have this father. Both shame-related depression and trauma-related depression can be resistent to more typical treatments.

Tired of dealing with husband's gloom & doom

July 2008

My husband has suffered from depression for years and I'm running out of patience with the situation. I'm tired of having a partner who focuses on gloom and doom all the time. He's taking medication and has good doctors, but he's still depressed. Because we have two young kids, I don't to divorce him. Rather, I'm looking for encouragement or practical tips on how to get through this. Thanks. anon

This is a serious situation. You said you don't want to divorce him because you have two kids. I would be more concerned about the effects of growing up with a depressed Dad. I understand that depression is a continual condition that can last a lifetime but can be controlled somewhat with drugs and therapy. I presume you are in therapy yourself. I am not sure this is a situation that you can ''get through''. You asked for ''practical tips'' and I'm afraid the only word that comes to mind is perseverance. What are YOU getting out of the relationship? Are you staying in a known situation even though it is bad because you are scared to move on to an unknown future? These are questions only you can answer. I am sorry these may not be words you want to hear and they may be hard to digest. anonymous member of BPN

I have severe & cronic depression - most of my life. Once I was diagnosed correctly, it took months of trying different meds to get it right for me to finally be ok. (And it was WORTH IT!) You husband needs to continue working with his doctor, agressively, using trial and error until he truly no longer has the 'doom and gloom' feelings. Therapy along with meds is best. No one need live their lives like that (and also impact everyone around them). Fellow BPN subscriber

Did you know that a gluten allergy can cause severe depression? I wonder if your husband could have a gluten allergy or at least a sensitivity (a sensitivity would not show positive in a blood test). I know many people (including myself) who have had serious symptoms, including depression, diminish when they have gone off of gluten. I say this because you said that even on medication your husband is full of gloom and doom. My 13 yo son went off of gluten about 8 months ago and is a different person mood wise, anxiety, focus. I have been gluten free for the same time and I find that when I do eat glutn products occasionally, without fail, the next day I have low grade depression, headache and serious brain fog. Checkout (you can have a serious gluten allergy called Celiac Disease, but also serious sensitivity that will not test as an allergy). Good luck depressed no more

I am very sorry to hear about your husband's depression. Glad to hear he has good doctors. It might help to try separating yourself from his ''gloom and doom'' by gently saying, ''I'm sorry that's how you see it, but I can't think like that.'' You're not denying his reality but you are also not participating in it. Also remember that his depression is not him, per se. He has an illness that is distorting his thinking and skewing everything in a negative way.

That being said, he is still responsible for his own actions and words, and for participating actively in his treatment. Many partners of people with mental illness and/or substance abuse fall into traps of taking on the other person's pain/struggles, and doing for the other person what they are unwilling to do. For instance, for a person with low motivation and energy, you might find yourself doing the housework for both you and him. This can create resentment and exhaustion on your part. If he has a therapist, perhaps you can meet with him and his therapist just a few times to discuss how to manage responsibilities that both of you share so that it feels equitable and fair to both of you, and how to handle time spent together without getting ''infected'' by the other person's foul mood.

I hope you can take care of yourself mentally and physically during this difficult time. Try to get as much support from friends, family, and perhaps professionals as you can. For more information, please see the website for National Caregivers Alliance:

My wife is staying up all night and sleeping till 11

March 2002

I am getting frustrated with my spouse. I've been out of work for about 4out of the last 6 months. She is staying up until 4am in internet chat rooms and sleeps til 10/11am. I get up with our two year old at 5-6am. We eat, play and watch TV. I'm getting frustrated that she keeps sleeping in even when i go to work. I get up because I don't want the baby to stay in bed til 8. She has some books & toys in her crib to play with but... Am I being too leanient getting up early? or should i let the baby cry then play with her toys til 7 or so? frustrated daddy

Your situation does not sound fun and I am sorry I did not see any responses. My two cents is that your frustration is not going to help the problem at all. And, I don't think that your wife would appreciate you considering whether or not you are ''being too lenient.'' You are supposed to be her partner, not her parent.

It does indeed sound like she is depressed or checked out of life in some way. It would help your wife if you could re- channel or re-express your frustration into concern. You and your wife need to start communicating openly and non- agressively. You need to non-judgementally find out why she is prioritizing computer-time over you and your child. I am sure that there are many difficult issues here to work out. You might seriously consider counseling to help you and your wife communicate positively with each other about all of the issues in your lives. It is so easy to degenerate into negativity. Wishing You the Best of Luck

Depressed husband driving me crazy

March 2002

My husband has suffered from low-grade depression since he was a teen (his dad died suddenly when my husband was 7). His depression has gotten worse in the past year. He took Prozac for a few months, but stopped because it made him agitated and beligerent (though he was not depressed while on Prozac.) He's seeing a therapist, but he doesn't see how hard it is for me to live with a depressed partner. In addition to doing more of the work with our young son, and I am losing patience for my husband and becoming unsympathetic to his constant (and baseless) anxieties about money and work. I need a support group of parents whose partners suffer from depression.

I fantasize that my husband will find the right drug to alleviate his depression, that he will overcome the stigma of taking medication long term, and that years from now he will look back and realize what a debilitating fog he has been in. Most importantly, I worry about the effect this is having on our year-old son.

I'm terrified that he too will develop depression. Do you have advice on other anti-depressants, on how to support him during this low period, and how to make our son understand that Daddy's bad moods have nothing to do with him? I am a very optimistic, buoyant and nurturing person by nature, but this prolonged sadness in my house is making me crazy and resentful.

I have had success with (very) low-grade depression using 5-HTP, an over-the-counter medication based on tryptophane. You can find this anywhere (Longs, for example). However, many bottles come in only 50-unit capsules, and you need to take at least 300 units per day (up to 500) to make a difference. I have experienced no side effects, just an overall better mood. I have also heard good things about another over-the-counter preparation called SAM-E, but have not taken it myself. Good luck!

My friend's husband does very well on Wellbutrin. You can also try to see if your husband will start some sort of exercise routine. Now that the weather's perking up there are more opportunities for outdoors activities, which might be a good option. Unfortunately it's pretty much up to him so I don't know how much your wishes will influence him. I don't have any advice for YOU, other than to seek counseling. Best of luck to you.

My heart goes out to you. I, too, lived with a depressed husband. The only thing I ever said that convinced him to get help was, ''What would it mean to you/about you if you were, in fact, depressed?'' That got him to recognize that his own self-stigmatizing was limiting his options. The other perspective I have to offer is that depression is an illness, just as alcoholism is. Would he be willing to hold you and your family hostage to alcoholism?

Treatment: if I remember correctly, a combination of ''cognitive therapy'' and medication is the most effective treatment. Prozac doesn't work for everyone -- there are other anti-depressants: Serzone (watch for very small chance of liver problems), Celexa, etc.

Finally, depression in one family member can have a spiralling effect on others. You may be responding -- subtly or not, consciously or not -- to his depression, which may affect his depression, which may affect your response, and so on. Also, be on the lookout for depression in yourself, and take care of yourself. And don't overlook the benefits of exercise for both of you.

Good luck.

After reading your post I knew that I had to respond because it struck an emotional chord in me. Your situation sounds almost exactly like mine had been. Though I am no expert on depression, I lived for many years with a depresssed husband. I would be happy to share my experiences on this sensitive subject with you and share some suggestions that might be helpful to you.

This is for the woman whose husband is depressed. As a physician, I see lots of people who are depressed and do remarkedly well on the correct medicine. First she should look at things the husband may be taking that could make his depression and anxiety worse. My therapist told me to cut way back on coffee, this really helped a lot. Also, at one point I tried St John's wort and it not only made my depression worse, it made me almost suicidal. A good physician would try another antidepression medicine until your husband gets the desired response. Paxil worked great for me and helps with depression and overwelming anxiety about job and money. It took three to four weeks after starting the medicine before I felt better. Initially you may feel more sleepy and a little more depressed. I'm going to be on for about a year before we try off of it.

As the (formerly) depressed partner in a marriage, I really responded to your statement about your partner coming out of his ''debilitating fog'' ... because that is just what happened to me. The great thing is that I am getting treated for it, the problem is that the damage to my marriage is there too, from all the years of irritability, anxiety, and withdrawal.

Would your husband try St. John's Wort? It's not a pharmaceutical, so it may have slightly less stigma associated with it. It's easy to obtain (Trader's Joe is a good brand, and the best price I've seen), and the side effects (in my experience) are MUCH less than conventional anti-depressants (I've tried 3 and had bad experiences with each one). I think couples counseling would also be good, because there are the issues to work through even if your husband does come out of his fog. After some time in counseling with my husband, my marriage is really coming back strong (thankfully).

There's a good book on SJW by Norman Rosenthal, with guides to self-dosing. 3 pills (300 mg each) per day is the usual starting dosage, although it can go up to 6. It usually kicks in after 2 weeks...and it can kick in with a bang too!

Depression is something you need to manage...even with the most effective drugs. There are other ways of helping depression, like good exercise and diet. You might want to pick up some books on depression. ''Beyond Prozac'' was a good one, as was Norm Rosenthals ''Seasons of the Mind'' (specifically about Seasonal Affective Disorder). For me, it took repeated exposure to the idea of depression (from family members, a therapist, and reading) before I was ready to admit it to myself and begin seeking treatment.

Good luck, my thoughts and wishes are with you.
been there

Just a quick comment on the medication problem. There are medications related to Prozac that are more sedating (Zoloft is one, and there are at least two others that more calming). Perhaps he could check with his doctor on those alternatives.

There is a group based in San Francisco called the Depressive-Manic Depressive Association (DMDA) that usually meets at St. Francis Memorial Hospital. I don't have the number but know they are listed. There are educational and support sessions for family/friends as well as people who suffer from these illnesses. Many of my clients have used this group as a major source of support over the years. They may be able to refer you to a group in the East Bay.