I got married about a year and a half ago to a good man with no history of mental health issues,
In the last few weeks he has started to stay at home and sleep a lot too at the expense of work, he is very self-contained and hardly talks to me and does not want to leave the house.
When I ask him if anything is wrong he says everything is fine, sometimes he says he has no power to live.
I am terribly afraid of what he is going through but I’m also at a loss for what to do
Is he depressed? Does he need therapy? What can I do to help?
Hi and thank you for your inquiry.
Depression is not an easy thing to deal with for an individual or their loved ones, and I want to say first that I hope for better days for you and your husband.
Your husband may be dealing with depression, but it is important to explore it further. There is a difference between a transient episode on one hand and a more serious depression (major) on the other hand.
From the brief background you provided, it does not seem to be a major episode of depression, since he does go to work some days, and is also able to express that "everything is fine" (even if it isn’t true). I would hope that this is a brief episode, but a professional diagnosis is required in order to fully understand the situation, and that requires an in-person interview.
The sources of depression can be varied. Therapy can help him understand the sources of his experience and in addition, help him achieve a reduction in his symptoms. Simply through knowing himself better, he may experience a heightened sense of well-being. Clarity is needed, and once your husband comes to the clinic, our service providers will discuss with him whether there is a need to also involve a psychiatric consult for medication.
But until he arrives for treatment and professional guidance, here are some things you can try at home ...
Try to use a positive attitude and focus on all of the things that your husband is doing well, and where he was successful in the past. If this is the case, you can also let him know that you understand that he is going through a struggle and that you feel his distress. These types of conversations can take place at home and are effective in helping anyone feel better, regardless of their need for professional support.
Try to find time for rest and relaxation. It is best to avoid harshly confronting him about the depression or telling him that it is upsetting that he stays in bed all day, or misses work. Although those words might seem motivating, they are usually experienced as hurtful and may make someone experiencing depression feel even more hopeless.
Try to find a suitable time to have an open conversation about his needs and current struggle with depression. Help him to see his own needs so that he will want to seek out professional support. In the end of the day, it is his decision to get help which will begin his therapeutic process.
Nati Boker, MSW