Steve Lappen, a writer and support group leader, who has himself been treated for bipolar disorder (manic depression), recommends that husbands watch the Real Men, Real Depression online video from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The film includes ‘tough guys’ such as a firefighter, a retired Air Force sergeant, and a police officer. The video shows men that depression is a treatable medical condition, not a sign of weakness and gives permission to men to ask for help. According to Lappen, “Men won’t even ask for driving directions, so we must let them know asking for help for depression is okay. Reaching out is a sign of strength, not of weakness.”
How to Help Your Husband
- See a doctor. Ask your husband to see a medical professional, offer to make the appointment, and make sure to go with him or call the medical professional in advance to state his symptoms.
- Reach out. Find other people to help you get your husband into treatment, including mental health professionals such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker.
- Show you care. Depressed men feel isolated in their pain and hopelessness. Listen and sympathize with his pain.
- Talk about the depression’s impact on you and your children. Your relationship, including intimacy, household responsibilities, and finances, are also adversely affected when your husband is depressed.
- Get educated. Read a brochure, Family Profiles
(see www.familyaware.org), or a book, or watch a video on depression and share the information with your husband.
- Get tested. Go through the confidential and anonymous Depression Screening Test with your husband that will guide him toward medical help.
- Seek immediate help If at any time your husband talks about death or suicide or may be harmful to you or others, seek immediate help. Contact your doctor; go to your local emergency room, or call 1-800-suicide or 911.
What not to do
Men with depression are suffering from a recognized psychological and medical condition, not a weakness of character. It is important to recognize their limitations.
- Do not dismiss their feelings by saying things like “snap out of it” or “pull yourself together.”
- Do not force someone who is depressed to socialize or take on too many activities that can result in failure
and increased feelings of worthlessness.
- Do not agree with negative views. Negative
thoughts are a symptom of depression. You need to continue to present a realistic picture by expressing hope that the situation will get better.