Men get depressed as often as women do; however, men are much less likely than women to recognize that they need help. Traditional gender roles dictate that men remain emotionally strong and suppress feelings of sadness. The stronger a man associates with such traditional roles, the more he will resist mental health treatment. If your husband is suffering from depression, you can help him accept the help he needs.
Recognize the Need for Help
Educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of depression to enable you to recognize it in your husband. Symptoms of depression include persistent sadness, irritability or apathy; loss of interest in activities he previously enjoyed; withdrawal from family and friends; talking negatively, arguing, or being overly critical; a significant change in eating or sleeping habits; lack of energy or listlessness; or alcohol or drug abuse,
Avoid minimizing your husband’s condition. Depression is a serious illness. Take all suicide threats seriously.
Stop being an enabler. You are not helping your husband by trying to cover up his symptoms or by lying or making excuses for him.
Encourage your husband to seek help. Convince him that therapy is not a sign of weakness. Offer to accompany him when he goes to the therapist. If your husband continues to resist seeing a counselor, suggest a general check-up with your regular family physician. This is less threatening for your husband, and his physician can rule out medical conditions as a cause of his depression.
Give your husband unconditional love and support as he struggles with his condition.
Supply whatever support your husband needs and wants: Help him schedule and keep appointments, make sure he takes all medications as prescribed and help him talk about his emotions. Be careful not to push him; let him progress at his own pace.
Recognize that it takes time for therapy to take effect. If medication is prescribed, it does not relieve symptoms immediately and often several different medications must be tried before the most effective one is found.
Urge your husband to be active. Go for walks together, see a funny movie or show or go to a favorite restaurant or museum.
Set a good example. Eat healthy, exercise and convey a positive attitude.
Take Care of Yourself
Ask for help if you need it. Your husband’s depression takes a toll on you, too. Don’t try to do everything yourself. Too much stress will leave you feeling resentful, frustrated and burned out.
Accept that you cannot cure your husband yourself. Depression is a serious condition, and your husband must work through it himself.
Voice your feelings and concerns. Don’t suffer in silence; it will only cause frustration and resentment to build. But talk to your husband with sensitivity. Communication is important, but do it gently and without any implication of blame.