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depressed husband
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residencywife posted:
hi there, my husband just graduated medical school 2 weeks ago, we got married a little over a month ago, and have been together going on 10 years. it is supposed to be the happiest time in our lives right? so much hope in starting a new journey together. however, my husband has been very different lately. he's easily irritated, very quite, distant, theres no intimacy in our relationship. At first, we thought the obvious, nervous about starting this next chapter and entering residency. Anyone could see how that can put pressure on someone or a realtionship. However, he hasn't been able to shake this. Last night, he sat me down and explained to me that he was pretty sure he was suffering from depression. Being in the medical profession he knew all the symptoms well enough to put 2 and 2 together. I was completely taken back. This happy go lucky guy that never let anything get him down, who had worked his butt off in undergrad and med school to get to where hes at and to have achieved all of these goals was depressed? how can this be? im writing this on here because i have never dealt with a loved one who has depression. I don't know what to say or what to do to make him feel better or feel like its ok to have feelings like this. He has a physical scheduled for today and is going to talk to his doctor about whats going on. But I want to be there to support him and let him know im here for him, I just dont know how. He says he hasn't had any suicidal thoughts, but that is always in the front of my mind when i hear the word depression. I guess Im just looking for someone to lend an ear and tell me how they have dealt with this and how to be a supportive spouse. They always tell you the first year of marriage is the hardest, but this wasn't what i had in mind.

Sincerely, a concerned medical spouse
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WhiteNemo responded:
I wish I could hop through the screen and give you both a big hug. No one should have to deal with this. Your description of how he is feeling sounded eerily familiar to how I was when I started to spiral into depression. I gave everything to my studies, was extremely idealistic, and was bubbly and friendly. The problem for me was that I ran myself until I had nothing left about the same time that I realized the high ideals I had fused to my self-esteem were absolutely unachievable. No matter what I did, my efforts would be in vain and I would be a failure as a human being. For me, my anxiety and depression went hand in hand, but every case of depression can be fed by such a wide variety of factors, that the best way to find out what is wrong is to talk. If he is like me, he will have a really hard time expressing what is wrong because he won't know, but the key is to keep pushing him (gently) to say what he is feeling and try to figure out what might be triggering it. Maybe do a little research on some common symptoms and how people report they feel, and use that to lead your questions. You said you want to be supportive, and you will be, but it will be tough. By being there where he can drop the grimacing smile at night, you will (and have) see the worst of it. That puts you in the position to have the most influence. Sadly there is no quick fix. Just love him a little everyday. Hug him when he can't talk, when he's irritable, when he can't do anything but rock and stare at the wall for hours. The person you fell in love with is in there and wants to get out again. Try to do things together. Get out, and try to do something fun, no matter how small. Set goals this way so you both have things to look forward to. I did say it wouldn't be easy, and you need to take care of yourself as well as him. It's hard to be cheery when the ones you love so dearly aren't. My husband has really suffered from my depression, and I feel guilty for what I put him through every day.

All that said, I did say this reminded me of when I started to become depressed. It sounds like he might just be discovering this and it hasn't taken a strong strong hold yet. If his doctor hasn't suggested it, I would suggest that he sees a cognitive therapist rather than taking medications, and that way he can find out more about why he might be experiencing this and build the mental muscles to deal with the hard times rather than taking a pill. (This is just my opinion though--medications can be a very good option, sort of like training wheels.)

Depression is weird. It's not something that is easy to understand or explain because when you are in the middle of it, you aren't yourself, so by the time you snap out of it, you don't remember how bad it was. It really is a chronic illness like any other. Just remember, it's not his fault, and it's not your fault either. This is just a step in the road (that many have taken before you if that helps to know), and if you guys can use this as a chance to bond, your marriage will be strong enough to last through just about anything. I should know.
 
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residencywife replied to WhiteNemo's response:
WhiteNemo, Thank you so much for responding. All that info was very helpful. Yesterday was a better day but I'm not getting my hopes up. After having his physical on Monday his primary doctor said it would be good to see a therapist, so he is this coming Monday. No pills have been prescribed yet, but we are open minded as to different treatments. I think he feels a little better after talking about it and getting it off his chest. Nights are the worst when we finish dinner and do nothing but relax and watch tv which used to be such an enjoyable time is now time where his mind wanders and allows him to think to much. It's especially worse because he is physician and has the mentality that he is supposed to help people with depression not be the one struggling with it. Right now we are taking things day by day. He just told me this Sunday yet I feel like I've been dealing with it for such a long time. I'm hopeful after hearing your advice and kind words. I can't thank enough!


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