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How to help your man through depression

When one spouse has depression, it can put a strain on a marriage. Living with a depressed partner who is often unhappy, critical and negative isn't easy, and at the same time, it may also be hard to persuade a husband or wife to get help. Jay Baer, a psychiatrist and director of ambulatory services in the department of psychiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Depression results from shifts in brain chemistry that influence mood, thoughts, sex drive, sleep, appetite and energy levels — all factors that could affect a marriage, as well as disrupt home and family life. You bet," Baer said.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: Depression and Anxiety in Men

Content:

8 Tips for Dealing with a Depressed Spouse

As men, we like to think of ourselves as strong and in control of our emotions. When we feel hopeless or overwhelmed by despair we often deny it or try to cover it up. But depression is a common problem that affects many of us at some point in our lives, not a sign of emotional weakness or a failing of masculinity. It affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them—spouses, partners, friends, and family.

However, male depression changes how you think, feel, and function in your daily life. It can interfere with your productivity at work or school and impact your relationships, sleep, diet, and overall enjoyment of life.

Severe depression can be intense and unrelenting. Unfortunately, depression in men often gets overlooked as many of us find it difficult to talk about our feelings. Instead, we tend to focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany male depression, such as back pain, headaches, difficulty sleeping, or sexual problems. This can result in the underlying depression going untreated, which can have serious consequences. Once correctly diagnosed, there is plenty you can do to successfully treat and manage male depression and prevent it from coming back.

Men tend to be less adept at recognizing symptoms of depression than women. A man is more likely to deny his feelings, hide them from himself and others, or try to mask them with other behaviors. But if you reach out for help, you will feel better. For help outside the U. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills.

While any man can suffer from depression, there are some risk factors that make a man more vulnerable, such as:. Impotence or erectile dysfunction is not only a trigger of depression in men, it can also be a side effect of many antidepressant medications. It takes courage to seek help—from a loved one or a professional.

Most men with depression respond well to self-help steps such as reaching out for social support, exercising, switching to a healthy diet, and making other lifestyle changes.

Many men recovering from depression notice improvements in sleep patterns and appetite before improvements in their mood. But these self-help steps can have a powerful effect on how you think and feel, helping you to overcome the symptoms of depression and regain your enjoyment of life.

Work commitments can often make it difficult for men to find time to maintain friendships, but the first step to tackling male depression is to find people you can really connect with, face-to-face.

But developing and maintaining close relationships are vital to helping you get through this tough time. Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. Make face-time a priority. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away. Find ways to support others.

So find ways-both big and small-to help others: volunteer , be a listening ear for a friend, do something nice for somebody. Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated. Caring for a pet can also get you outside of yourself and give you a sense of being needed-both powerful antidotes to depression.

Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.

Invite someone to a ballgame, movie, or concert. There are plenty of other people who feel just as awkward about reaching out and making friends as you do. Be the one to break the ice. Call or email an old buddy. Aim for eight hours of sleep. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits.

Keep stress in check. Not only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out, such as work overload, money problems , or unsupportive relationships, and find ways to relieve the pressure and regain control.

Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. Spend time in sunlight. Getting outside during daylight hours and exposing yourself to the sun can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.

Take a walk, have your coffee outside, do some yard work, or double up on the benefits by exercising outdoors. If you live somewhere with little winter sunshine, try using a light therapy box.

Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. But exercise is a powerful depression fighter-and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal.

Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. A minute walk can improve your mood for two hours. Your fatigue will improve if you stick with it. But research shows that your energy levels will improve if you keep with it.

Exercise will help you to feel energized and less fatigued, not more. Find exercises that are continuous and rhythmic. The most benefits for depression come from rhythmic exercise-such as walking, weight training, swimming, or martial arts-where you move both your arms and legs.

Add a mindfulness element, especially if your depression is rooted in unresolved trauma or fed by obsessive, negative thoughts. Focus on how your body feels as you move-such as the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, or the rhythm of your breathing. Pair up with an exercise partner. Not only does working out with others enable you to spend time socializing, it can also help to keep you motivated. Try joining a running club, seeking out tennis partners, or enrolling in a soccer or volleyball league.

Take a dog for a walk. Minimize sugar and refined carbs. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids to give your mood a boost.

The best sources are fatty fish salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines , seaweed, flaxseed, and walnuts. Try foods rich in mood-enhancing nutrients, such as bananas magnesium to decrease anxiety, vitamin B6 to promote alertness, tryptophan to boost feel-good serotonin levels and spinach magnesium, folate to reduce agitation and improve sleep.

Avoid deficiencies in B vitamins which can trigger depression. Eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs. That your situation is hopeless? Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future.

But even so, they can be tough to give up. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression, and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking. The mental filter — Ignoring positive events and focusing on the negative. Noticing the one thing that went wrong, rather than all the things that went right. Jumping to conclusions — Making negative interpretations without actual evidence. I really am no good! Once you identify the destructive thoughts patterns that contribute to your depression, you can start to challenge them with questions such as:.

As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. Treatments for depression in men include:. However, if therapy is available to you, it can often bring a swift sense of relief, even to the most skeptical male.

Medication also comes with side effects. Even if you decide that medication is right for you, always pursue self-help steps as well. Point out how his behavior has changed, without being critical. Suggest a general check-up with a physician.

He may be less resistant to seeing a family doctor than a mental health specialist at first. The doctor can rule out medical causes of depression and then make a referral. Offer to accompany him on the first visit with a doctor or mental health specialist. Some men are resistant to talking about their feelings, so try to remove roadblocks to him seeking help.

Encourage him to make a list of symptoms to discuss. Help him focus on his feelings as well as physical ailments, and to be honest about his use of alcohol and drugs. Engage him in conversation and listen without judgement. Take any remarks about suicide seriously. In the U.

Depression in Men

Many people find themselves supporting a partner with depression at some point in their lives. The support of family and friends can play an important role in the treatment of mental health conditions. Depression is a condition that affects around 16 million adults in the United States each year.

Editor's Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question?

To the outside world, Emme lived a charmed life. She was a successful model, creative director of her own clothing line, a television host, lecturer, and mother of a beautiful baby girl. Phillip Aronson, the wonderful man she married, found himself in a downward spiral of depression, even attempting suicide at one point to escape his pain. Phil was always an energetic partner, excited to go to work each morning either to the showroom to check on the latest graphic designs for the Emme line or to attend meetings about some new project.

How to help a depressed spouse

Mental illness, including depression , is something every person must face and manage in their own way. But it also impacts relationships with friends, family — and particularly partners. Those closest to someone living with depression can be a huge source of love, comfort, and support. But they can often feel enormous pressure. Couples face a higher chance of divorce when one or both partners has a mental health condition. A multinational study found a 12 percent increase in the prevalence of divorce. Rather, it comes from how they interact and communicate, and how both partners approach the symptoms of the illness. Both agree that communication, empathy, and understanding are the keys to having any successful relationship, and especially important when one or both partners are living with a mental illness. Karen and Julie both provided some excellent questions to help you and your partner get started on this long, challenging — but ultimately joyful and rewarding journey. These questions help determine which is happening.

Tips for Coping With Depression in a Relationship

As men, we like to think of ourselves as strong and in control of our emotions. When we feel hopeless or overwhelmed by despair we often deny it or try to cover it up. But depression is a common problem that affects many of us at some point in our lives, not a sign of emotional weakness or a failing of masculinity. It affects millions of men of all ages and backgrounds, as well as those who care about them—spouses, partners, friends, and family. However, male depression changes how you think, feel, and function in your daily life.

Understanding how depression affects your partner can be key to building a healthy, supportive relationship that cares for the mental wellbeing of both partners. Depression can cause people to withdraw, behave differently or become more irritable.

During Men's Health Week, here's how you can help if a man in your life is suffering with depression and anxiety. But what should you do if your boyfriend or husband is suffering from mental health problems? A key warning sign that your boyfriend is dealing with depression or anxiety is him shutting down communication.

5 Ways to Offer Support When Your Spouse Is Depressed

Standing on the sidelines when a partner battles depression can feel like a helpless experience. You might feel confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed. You are not alone.

SEE VIDEO BY TOPIC: How to Support a Loved One Struggling With Mental Illness

Find out more about cookies and your privacy in our policy. ReachOut are running a new wave of recruitment for research about our users and want to hear from you! Tell me more. Read about how Sara dealt with the overwhelming experience of helping her depressed boyfriend, and the lessons she learnt in the process. Seeing a loved one go through a hard time always impacts you in some way or another.

Dear Therapist: My Boyfriend’s Depression Is Making Me Question Our Future Together

Caregiving is tough. It's one thing to see a loved one in the dirty trenches of illness; it is a whole other to jump headfirst into that trench with them. Caring for a man who is suffering from depression can be even harder, because depression isn't often seen - it's felt. Many experts disagree - noting that depression is just less diagnosed in men. This makes sense considering men commit suicide nearly four times more frequently than women due to their symptoms being overlooked and untreated. Even if the data is correct, there are still six million of my fellow men who are experiencing some level of depression at any given time. Six million fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, and uncles living day by day wondering both when the pain is going to end and how to break through the crushing stigma of depression. The truth of this can be seen in one man's story, and to keep his identity anonymous, I will call him John.

When my boyfriend of two years started to get a bit emotional, I told him it was hormones, or the stress of exams, and I said I would hold his hand whenever he felt.

Try these: time management relationship advice healthy lifestyle money wealth success leadership psychology. When you married your partner, you agreed to love and support them for better or for worse, through sickness and in health. Though you may have found it easy to maintain your connection when you were both in a good mental space, your vows are tested when one of you experiences emotional issues. Relationships take work, and those that are marked by a depressed spouse take even more work than usual. Whether you are learning how to communicate better or are striving to keep the passion alive in your partnership, you must continually work on both the relationship and yourself to sustain a healthy union.

No one teaches us how to navigate a relationship when mental illness or depression enters the equation. I recently read a Washington Post article by a woman whose relationship was torn apart while she and her partner tried to deal with his depression. Last year when I plunged into a depressive episode during our relationship, my partner was at a loss.

When your spouse has depression , you might be very worried, and feel utterly helpless. After all, depression is a stubborn, difficult illness. Your partner might seem detached or deeply sad.

If you are in a relationship with someone who has depression, you are likely struggling with a mix of emotions and hosts of questions.

Depression is tough on a relationship. A psychologist explains how to help a depressed spouse, signs of depression and how to strengthen your relationship. Clinical psychologist Adam Borland, PsyD , shares how you can help a depressed spouse — and yourself — so you can get through the tough times, together. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission.

Pages: 1 2 3 All. To the outside world, Emme Aronson lived a charmed life. She was a successful model, creative director of her own clothing line, a television host, lecturer, and mother of a beautiful baby girl. Phillip Aronson, the wonderful man she married, found himself in a downward spiral of depression, even attempting suicide at one point to escape his pain. Phil was always an energetic partner, excited to go to work each morning either to the showroom to check on the latest graphic designs for the Emme line or to attend meetings about some new project. He was a caring and loving father.

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Comments: 2
  1. Taugore

    I am sorry, I can help nothing. But it is assured, that you will find the correct decision. Do not despair.

  2. Gosho

    What curious topic

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