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Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

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Old 12-02-2004, 05:22 AM   #1
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Location: Milwaukee, WI
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chitrick HB User
Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

I sure hope there are some spouses out there, who can give some advice. I'm the husband of someone who has just recently been diagnosed with depression, and began 10 mg Lexapro this week. My wife is 48 years old; and has always been the sort of kind happy person that everyone likes to be around. But she has experienced an unusual amount of trauma over the past year. First, she underwent six months of chemo therapy for leukemia. Then, she endured another serveral months of blood transfusions as a result of the chemo doing its job "too" well. She held up quite well through all of this. But, at the same time this was all going on, many changes were taking place at her job, increasing the pressure on her. Her tolerance for handling stress finally became unbearable.

The change in her seems to have taken place almost overnight. She went from being this person who was able to handle most any situation with a smile, to someone who wanted to stop living altogether. The symptoms began when she'd wake up after only two or three hours of sleep...and then not able to fall back asleep. In no time, it progressed to horrible anxiety attacks, the feeling of worthlessness and lack of desire to do anything at all.
The doctors (her oncologist and our family doctor) have explained that the circumstances of her leukemia treatment began a brain cell killing process that was magnified by the stress she is facing with her job. The hope is that the Lexapro will help to balance things out again.

It has just been three days on the Lexapro, so I realize it is too soon to see any positive changes. I might add that my wife had her uterus and ovaries removed a few years ago. So menopause is not really an issue here. My question is...How do the spouses cope with their situation? I've done much internet research; and feel that at least I am better prepared to be compasionate now, than I might have been a couple of months ago. But this is all still very difficult to understand, never having experienced symptoms of depression or anxiety myself.

Please...if there are any spouses or other family members/friends of people diagnosed with depression/anxiety...I would surey appreciate your input. (I am also posting this message on the mental health board) Thanks!

Last edited by chitrick; 12-02-2004 at 05:46 AM.

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Old 12-02-2004, 07:37 AM   #2
Join Date: Nov 2004
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BlackParis HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

I am sorry to hear about your wife. I do not have a depressed spouse, but I am the depressed spouse. My husband doesn't really understand and I think it is wonderful that you are trying to. My advice to you is what I wish my husband would do. Try to be sensitive to your wife's moods. Sometimes people need alone time and sometimes they need encouragement. (At least as a woman, that is how I feel) If my husband could be there when I needed him and give me time when I needed it, things would be some much easier. I know this is hard, but try not to get upset with her when she has a bad day. When I have a really bad day, my husband gets upset with me telling me that me being depresses is frustrating to him. While I understand this, his lack of support doesn't help. Lastly, make sure you get time for yourself. It will give you a break from the situation so when you go back, the break will give you the renewed strength you need to continue to support your wife. I know that with time your wife can feel better and with your support, in the end your relationship will be even stronger.

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Old 12-04-2004, 09:57 AM   #3
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chitrick HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

Thanks for your reply! It is so unfortunate that your husband is the way he is. I can't imagine what it would be like if I was the one who was going through depression/anxiety, and my spouse were not willing to offer support and understanding.

I can't believe that there aren't more folks out there who can give some input on the subject. My original message has had over 40 hits so far, with just one reply. Come on people! Share your experiences, advice and suggestions!

Old 05-30-2009, 11:09 PM   #4
Join Date: May 2009
Location: winnipeg, man. can
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justumn HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

wow, I've been thinking about this, but just can't come up with an answer. Basically, when I am depresses I do not want to talk to anyone. I live alone so this can be managed. I simply don't answer the phone or door. With my job, I work alone. It takes alot of inner dialogue to be able to go out with someone (my boyfriend of 10 years) and try to act happy and 'normal' I must do this because I don't want to talk about my depression because than I start crying and he tries to fix and its nothing he can fix. This frustrates him. So the most relationship I can do at this point is a couple of hours on the weekend.
I lived 27 years with a spouse that was depressed. It totally burnt me out. I was always feeling resentful or guilty or sorry for him or so %%%%ing angry with him.
I knew I couldn't fix it. He needed to go to a group that wasn't so personally involved, but he never did. I couldn't be everything he needed.
I don't ever want to be that kind of burden to anyone so I shut everyone out..
I think what your wife is going through is very tough. But know that You need to look after yourself or you won't be able to hang in there. You are not capable of making her better. You may have to distance yourself emotionally and look after you. Don't stop doing what you enjoy. Don't allow yourself to run dry. We will suck everything out of youYour wqife must find help from someone that is not so emotionally involved. Only she can do that, but she is likely to do it sooner if she knows she must take ownership of her own mental well being.
best of luck

Old 05-31-2009, 04:54 AM   #5
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jnn HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

I don't have a depressed spouse, or I should say that I don't even have a spouse. But I screwed up my relationship with a man because of my depression:

Well, firstly, I felt like he did not understand me. All he said all day was why do you look so sad? Cheer up! This frustrated me, because cheering up was exactly something I wanted to do, as well as something I wasn't able to do.
Secondly, I was so fussy about thing when I was depressed. I wasn't happy about the way he talked; I wasn't happy about he ignoring me when I needed him.
Last but not least, I had so much guilt that I did not want to a burden to him. So I decided to end this relationship and just not be around anybody.

What I wish my boyfriend should have done is to understand what is going on, and let me know that he is always there when I need him, and of course let me know that he loves me.

Hope this helped.

Old 05-31-2009, 05:36 AM   #6
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: alma, mi
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dolejaly HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

As you described of some of the traumatic events that has happened recently in your wife's life no wonder she is depressed. Even woman that seem to be strong are human also and do have a breaking point....and it sounds to me that she has hit that point in her life. But, realize you can not fix what she is going through anymore than you can change the past of what she was dealt upon her...But, what you can do is let her know you are there if needed and do what ever you can to help her..But, don't think you can fix it for the first step.

It is hard for a person to understand what another person truly is going through...Be supportive and get her to talk more openly about everything and anything and little by little just being able to let her vent, talk, cry it will make a lot of difference...One mistake I see many make is because as you described was before she was a woman that can handle anything and took on the world and did it w/ a smile and that my friend was a person that was holding in her hurt and not letting emotions go which in the long run starts to wear a person down(self destruction)...So if you let her know that you don't expect her to be like that and let her know she is a person also that she will slowly start to be that happy person again....Just don't allow yourself to think you can be the one that fixes it all....and end up depressed yourself...Now is the time for you to be that strong person that you seen before....Between her medication and people not expecting her to be that wonder woman of great strength things might just come around...Good luck!

Old 06-02-2009, 10:07 PM   #7
Join Date: Jun 2009
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ItsRainingStars HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

I am the depressed person in my relationship. I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. My depression is absolutely the biggest problem in our relationship. It is even causing us to not get married, even though we want to (aside from my issues with depression and anxiety). I have been depressed since I was 5 years old, so I can't imagine it getting better soon enough...

I suppose from my point of view, which would be similar to hers...just don't give up on her. With are aware that you're acting irrationally, but you can't stop. I know I freak out over silly things, but it really doesn't make it any easier to avoid those times. I just need him to be there for me and not get frustrated. That is very important. When he gets upset at my depression, it automatically makes everything worse. The time to talk seriously about it is when she is feeling pretty normal, not in the throws of an anxiety attack or something.

I have to say through all my rambling...the thing that stuck out to me the most is "just don't give up on her." She needs to to be compassionate and just hold her. Open your mind and your heart to her problems; don't become angered and frustrated by them.

Old 06-03-2009, 06:57 PM   #8
Join Date: May 2009
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someboddy HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

Hi Chitrick,

I think Justumn's reply is as close to what I feel as any here.

I mean no offence at all but your post makes me feel very angry. Why? Well not because you don't care as you clearly do and you also want to know what to do etc. You seek input from others as to how to cope and how to help etc and you have some good replies.

No, what makes me angry is the viciousness of this illness. How it can devastate a woman like your wife in a short time. She has truly been through some absolutely awful things and it is a wonder she did not show signs of stress etc much earlier. That tells me how much the experiences she has had have hurt her, deeply and truly.

Makes me want to cry for all the people like her who will go through the same and have no idea what is about to descend on them.

And it makes me want to cry for you as you seem so naive, so eager to "do something" when I know you can't. All you can do is be there, show no anger, frustration or sadness yourself and don't push her for physical contact unless she wants it.

Let her just do what she needs to do without buzzing around her like an angry bee, but make sure she knows where you are and that you are ready and willing to do whatever it is she wants.

Read up on depression, try to get a feel for what she feels. You can't really but you can get to recognise the symptoms so you may be able to pick where she's at.

Don't attack her, don't criticise her and don't, above all, tell her how bad her illness makes you feel.

What I've just asked of you is, of course, impossible as I believe you are human and not a super being. But that is what she needs, a non judgemental, non demanding partner who allows her to live but still know that she is loved.

She has much to revoer from pyhsically let alone the depression and anxiety, that will be after the physical recovery and not before. How long after depends on her prognosis of course.

I note you mention 3 days may not be enough of a new med to tell anything. Sorry but it may be 10 different meds and 3 months each before she finds a med that helps her feel better.

Seriously, do not ever expect a result according to the notes on a med as they do not help all of us the same way. Some do nothing for me and plenty for someone else.

The pressure of you counting days and expecting a change is itself counter productive and you should stop that right away. Leave that for her and the doctor to say. Forget about what may happen, focus on how she is today and what you can do to make today better.

And, as others say, don't ever forget that if you go down you cannot help her or yourself at all so your health is critical. Time for you away from her and her depression is important and she knows that.

I do cry for the road ahead you have to walk and only hjope it is as short as possible.

Old 06-04-2009, 06:19 AM   #9
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: alma, mi
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dolejaly HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

When some go through traumatic events in their life and are not able to open up freely it will eventually burn to surface and then everyone asks why? But the ones that are asking why are the ones that when an issue arises in their life they want someone to listen, to be there for them, to comfort and make them feel they are loved and worth something in life even in the bad times....

Now ask yourself if you wasn't to get that how would you feel?

Old 06-04-2009, 02:18 PM   #10
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hppygr8ful HB User
Re: Spouses of people with depression/anxiety...HELP!!

I have dealth with major depression most of my life, went through one marriage and almost lost another. I kept thinking that he needed to be more understanding of my illness. BUt I was so caught up in my own misery I made everyone around me miserable as well. I went through some pretty terrible crap in my life and thought I would just be depressed forever. I finally tried to kill myself - My husband took me to a hospital and I finally got serious about helping mself instead of expecting others to understand how I felt. I spent 5 years in therapy and on medications and today while I still suffer from depression it's much better - I am off medication and living a pretty good life -

Your wife has been through a tremenodous amount of stress and her current depression is normal and to be expected. Often when one is dealing with a critical illness they are often so caught-up in just trying to survive that they don't have time to be depressed. Then when the illness goes into remission or is cured - when it seems like they should be happy - the depression hits like a rock. The best thing I can suggest both as a recovering depressed person and a medical professional is counseling for both of you. NOt as a couple but seperately. You also need a release after all that's happened and good therapist will help you understand your feelings not only about her depression but also about all that has occurred.

Check on the net for Mental Health resources and cancer survivor support groups in your area. She needs to feel what she is feeling and you need to feel what you are feeling and neither of you needs to feel guilty or angry about it. Feelings are just things, they are never right are wrong they just are. It's what we do with those feelings that makes life beautiful, joyful and happy.

I will keep you both in my prayers

Peace and Namaste


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