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mamad
@mamad

Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 21, 2016

Living with a spouse with mental health issues

Posted by @mamad, Sep 21, 2016

My spouse has a depression & anxiety diagnosis. He has lost interest in most activities and has skipped doctor appointments needed to refill medications. How do I support him? What can I do to assist him?

Liked by johnbardell

REPLY

Welcome to Connect, @mamad. What great questions you ask about how to support your husband as he struggles with depression and anxiety. I’d like to bring fellow members into this conversation. @jimhd @missyb57 @jbyrd @guener @book2075 @callalily74 what advice might you suggest to mamad?

Mamad – I also encourage you to join @IndianaScott and other caregivers in the Caregivers group https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/caregivers/ What things have you done in the past that have helped your husband?

Liked by Ali Skahan

@mamad As the person of the illness side of the relationship in the past, it’s pretty common for somebody with depression to neglect themselves. It’s tricky, too, with anxiety to be able to address your loved one without increasing the distress s/he feels about it. Perhaps if you know somebody who is in treatment for mental health, that would be helpful — especially a male person who can reassure your husband that this is like any other medical issue, not a weakness nor a personal *flaw*. Are the medications not working (yet)? Psych medications are often a trial and error thing to find what works, and that’s different for each individual and worth the effort to find the right therapies. My own self worth being so low in the beginning of treatment that I, too, found it hard to drag myself to appointments but also to very helpful cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) groups. People with depression and anxiety like myself, especially men I think, don’t want to hear a lot of detailed commentary or prodding of “how do you feel” as compared to just being recognized for our suffering and hearing that we are supported by those who are close to us. It’s not just the person diagnosed that goes through suffering, either, so be sure to affirm to yourself that you’re cared for, even when somebody may be unable to express it; while, too, getting some therapy yourself wouldn’t hurt. I wish you both wellness.

My wife has lived with a husband with depression and anxiety, as well. I think that over time, she has learned that she needs to take care of herself, and not let me be her only focus. She’s tired of the depression, and so am I. I’ve been living with it for around 14 years, and I wonder how much longer it’s going to last. Discouragement, hopelessness, not caring about life, these are typical symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide are also pretty common. It’s been a long standing issue for me. Support groups for both of you can be really helpful, along with therapy and finding the right medication or combination of meds. As Jay said, figuring out what works can take a long time and can be pretty frustrating. You’re going to need a lot of patience. And educating yourself about the disease will only help. When I started feeling better, I resented my wife asking how I felt, and I didn’t like being treated like an invalid. We’ve moved past that particular hurdle. There are a lot of things not to say to a depressed person, and it’s important to learn how to talk with him. Depression is treatable. I hope you and your husband find the best treatment for him. Therapy helps and medications help. The highest rate of success is the combination of the two. God bless and keep you through this journey.

Liked by Guener, Ali Skahan

@jimhd

My wife has lived with a husband with depression and anxiety, as well. I think that over time, she has learned that she needs to take care of herself, and not let me be her only focus. She’s tired of the depression, and so am I. I’ve been living with it for around 14 years, and I wonder how much longer it’s going to last. Discouragement, hopelessness, not caring about life, these are typical symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thoughts of suicide are also pretty common. It’s been a long standing issue for me. Support groups for both of you can be really helpful, along with therapy and finding the right medication or combination of meds. As Jay said, figuring out what works can take a long time and can be pretty frustrating. You’re going to need a lot of patience. And educating yourself about the disease will only help. When I started feeling better, I resented my wife asking how I felt, and I didn’t like being treated like an invalid. We’ve moved past that particular hurdle. There are a lot of things not to say to a depressed person, and it’s important to learn how to talk with him. Depression is treatable. I hope you and your husband find the best treatment for him. Therapy helps and medications help. The highest rate of success is the combination of the two. God bless and keep you through this journey.

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I think the advice given is very good. I would like to add the addition of a support group-one for the person who is depressed and the other for the caregiver(s). This has worked wonders for me. When I was very ill I went with my mother. She got as much out of it as I did.

Good luck!

Liked by Guener, Ali Skahan

As @jbyrd mentioned, a support group is a great way to connect to other caregivers. There are many great resources out there for connecting to support groups, including the local hospital or possible checking out your local chapter of NAMI or Mental Health America. The Depression and Bipolar Alliance or the Anxiety And Depression Association are two other resources for support and information.

Here are those links:

NAMI: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers
Mental health America: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/find-support-groups
DBSA: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=help_landing
ADAA: https://www.adaa.org/

Thanks for all of the responses, suggestions & supports. I have also noticed recent memory loss. Could they all be connected?

Hello @mamad,

It must be so hard to see your husband go through this, but how wonderful that you are there to offer support as he struggles with his depression and anxiety.

I did a quick search and found a few members who have experienced depression and memory loss. @cathy615, @lorrainechavez, @oldnana, do you have any information or advice for mamad?
I would also encourage you to read this paper, http://bit.ly/2fLjK6J, that suggests that memory can be diminished as a result of depression.

@mamad, have you spoken to your doctor about this development? Have you come up with any strategies to help your husband cope with the memory loss?

@mamad, my memory loss was the result of medication, wellbutrin, aka buproprion. My memory was restored after I stopped taking it more than 5 years ago. I was put back on it a year ago and i ave begun the short term memory loss again. So I am being tapered off it. Yes, please make sure it gets mentioned to the dr! As far as missing his appointment, perhaps you can negotiate with him to let you take him, or at least let you remind him. Meds as well; use a daily pill box or a phone alarm, like me. has he been hospitalized? Perhaps he needs more information? Best wishes for you and your husband! Feel free to write me if you like…Cathy

Myself, I have definitely experienced problems with memory since I have been severely depressed, and also I believe due to the medication. The same is true for feeling disconnected or distracted from my surroundings and others. It’s a price I’m willing to pay if the meds can, as they have done thus far, keep me out of the deeper pit of despair. I tell those who are close to me that this can happen, so that they don’t just gawk over it when I blank out for a moment or forget something that should be simple. The latter helps me address anxiety over it, too.

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