Dealing With Depression in a Relationship

Your partner’s depression may involve emotional distance, lack of interest in love and intimacy, and exhaustion. These tips for dealing with a partner who is depressed may help you cope.

“In these 20 years of work among the people [in Calcutta], I have come to more and more realize it is being unwanted that is the worst disease any human being can ever experience.” – Mother Teresa.

Feeling unwanted and isolated is a huge factor in depression — and so are feelings of loneliness and fatigue. One of the best books on how to get over depression is The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness.

The more you know and understand about depression, the better you can see what to do and how to help a depressed partner. These tips for coping with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or marriage partner’s depression are from Dr Melvyn Lurie, author of Depression: Your Questions Answered.

Expect your partner to lose interest in physical intimacy

Losing interest in your love life is common in people with depression. “Whether from the inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia), inability to feel love, social withdrawal, or something more direct, interest in intimacy is frequently diminished in depression,” writes Dr Lurie. Further, losing interest in your love life can trigger other communication problems in relationships.

Has your partner lost interest in love or intimacy? Find other ways to express your physical intimacy, such as a massage or bubble baths together. And, remember that communication and intimacy problems can be triggered by depression.

If you’re wondering if your relationship is in trouble, you might find 10 Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship helpful.

Don’t be surprised if your depressed partner tries to make you feel bad

This happens more often than you’d think! When someone feels incompetent, worthless, and unenergetic – which people with depression often do – they may project their feelings onto their partners. That is, a depressed partner may consider his or her partner as incompetent, worthless, or unenergetic.

depression in a relationship“This kind of defense doesn’t work very well because it drives people away,” says Dr Lurie.

To cope with your partner’s depression, be aware of how negative feelings are projected. It can help simply to know why people dealing with depression make others feel bad, and learn to shrug off those behaviors. Learning how to cope with your partner’s depression in a relation can involve developing a thicker skin.

If you’re confused about your relationship, read How to Deal With a Depressed Boyfriend.

Be aware of how depression can lead to relationship breakups

People dealing with depression may feel isolated, misunderstood, attacked, and unloved. They may withdraw socially, want to be alone most of the time, and lose touch with the ability to feel love. This causes communication problems in relationships. Plus, people with depression may become critical and argumentative. These factors make it difficult for a relationship to survive.

And, knowing how depression and relationships can co-exist can help smooth things over. Deciding in advance how to handle the negative parts of the relationship will prepare you for most anything. Also, contacting a Distress Line, depression support group, or counselor is a great idea, especially if you feel like you’re not dealing with depression and your love relationship very well.

And, knowing how to overcome depression can help you understand your depressed partner, which can help you cope.

For Single People Dealing With Depression

Learn how depression affects your dating life

“Low self-esteem from depression can stop you from pursuing, let alone achieving, your goal of curing your loneliness,” writes in Dr Melvyn Lurie in Depression: Your Questions Answered. “This is a vicious cycle – your low self-esteem prevents you from curing your loneliness, and your loneliness worsens your depression and further erodes your self-esteem.”

Do things that increase your self-esteem, such as taking small risks and crossing things off your to-do list. If you’re dealing with depression, do little things every day to help you feel better about yourself.


Are you dealing with depression in a relationship? Sometimes it helps to write about your experience and feelings. I welcome your thoughts below, but I can’t offer advice. Please call a depression help line if you need support.


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156 thoughts on “Dealing With Depression in a Relationship”

  1. Dear BBB2111,

    I’m sorry to hear about your mom’s death. It sounds like this is a difficult time for you, and your boyfriend isn’t giving you the support and love you need. He’s going through his own issues, and he can’t see past his depression to be there for you.

    I wrote this post for you:

    My Boyfriend Keeps Pushing Me Away – How Do I Show Him I Care?

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts.


  2. My boyfriend of 2/3 years has completely shut down on me. This is the third summer this has happened accept this time it seems worse. The first year, 2010 we had only been together a few months and when June arrived he became depressed and withdrew. He explained to me by e mail how he gets like this and after a couple of months he was ok again. We starting seeing each other again in September and apart from the odd few days here and there, and Christmas where he shut himself away, we were ok. Then May 2011 he starting to withdraw again and I didn’t see him for weeks and weeks. He still contacted me here and there by e mail but that was it. In the August we passed each other in our cars, he text me to say hello and that he had pulled the car over to talk but I had disappeared. We starting texting each other daily, he was his old self, we had lots of banter like we used to. So we agreed to meet up in October. He asked me to stay at his place for the weekend. We met up and it was wonderful. He told me how much he loved me and missed me and how he now realised just how much I meant to him. He mentioned that I was always there for him. In fact we talked for the first time in depth about his issues. He apologised and said that all that was behind him now and that he was going no where. So we have had a lovely year, lots of loving and caring. He tells me how much I mean to him and I believe him. He was working hard in his career to build a future for us. And it was us, not just him he said, for us. We planned holidays, where we might like to live, everything, we just wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Grow old together he said. We are no spring chickens; we are both in our early 50’s.

    So July came this year and I felt him becoming a bit odd again, going off for a couple of days here and there but when he did get in touch he apologised if it seemed like he was pushing me away, it was just his work. He was very aware of when he was leaving me out. He booked us a short holiday beginning of August with my 2 teenage kids. The week before we went I never heard from him at all and I thought, here we go, I’ll be going alone. He rang me the day before we were due to go and he was ok. He told me that he had been depressed that week and that he had managed to snap himself out of it. Well the holiday was a disaster. From day one he kept losing his temper with my kids, not something he has ever done before. He kept threatening to go home. It’s like he was panicking to get away using any little thing as an excuse. I and he never argued once but he really had it in for my kids. Eventually he lost his temper with them and was really nasty to them, shouting and swearing over not very much at all. We decided to go home a day early. He couldn’t get packed quick enough. Me and him were still fine, we didn’t fall out once over it. The journey home was ok, we were fine together. When we arrived home, we unpacked the car and he just grabbed his bags, said he couldn’t be in the same house with my kids a minute longer and went home. He said he would ring me the next day but he never. That was 8 weeks ago. I rang him, text him and went to his house but he never replied to anything. He wouldn’t open the door. He shut out his best friend too but as he has to work with him sometimes, he had to contact him once or twice. I send him an e mail or FB message once every few days or so to tell him that I understand and that I love him and I’m here for him when he’s ready. I lost my mum 2 weeks ago, he has always supported me through it but he only managed to send me a text to say he was sorry and that he wasn’t in a good place right now. He left flowers and a card at the crematorium.

    This time seems worse to me. He does usually make some contact but when he does, the problem never gets mentioned he will almost change the subject. I really don’t know how to cope with this at the moment. I want to, I am a strong person and he knows that. But I get mixed feelings. Does he really love me; did he just think he did? Does he want me to be here for him or would he rather i just go because he believes he is no good for me. He has had a very troubled past involving being hurt by and ex who took his child away from him and has made the last 15 years impossible for him to have contact. This seems to be the root of the depression. He told me that he has been hurt 3 or 4 times in the past, most likely because the women couldn’t take this behaviour. He is struggling with earning a living at the moment because of health issues but he really works hard to build his career. I want to be here for him. I love him very much and when things are ok its wonderful.

    Do you think he believes I am going to stick by him? I will, for as long as it takes but how can I prove that to him if he won’t talk to me or see me? Is he trying to forget me? He has not once said that he wants to end anything so I am trying to take that as a positive. It’s almost like he has just forgotten everything, we had so much fun together and I know he was really happy with me. Maybe he thought that being with me had put an end to his depression and when he realized it hadn’t he withdrew into it again?

    Any thoughts or advice would be very much appreciated.

  3. I have a partner or had a partner with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, I tried to deal with it as much as possible, but after 6 months we had to break up, it was also at this juncture that we were to go see her family, her family in California. After being broken up for about a week, she begged for me to come back, once I was back with her we went to California and in the midst of the trip she said she hated me because it was easier than missing me and now that we are back, I am learning that she had to go to hospital for days for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks. What do I do? I do not have depression or any of these issues myself and it seems that whatever I say no matter how nice it is, she turns it into an attack against her. I do not know what to do, and I really love her and would like nothing more than to be with her……



  4. First, after researching all the information on depression and dating someone with this struggle, I have found an EPIHANY! That is very simple and can’t believe it took me 6 months to figure it out. My epiphany is simple that my boyfriend’s depression is creating me to be over analytical, confused and most importantly lacking in physical intimacy. I can’t believe how I let someone who I adore and really respect make me feel so much like a teenager dating. I am confused and really perplexed at his behavior and can’t swallow this monster sized pill that is his depression, stemming from a break up 7 months ago, that took a man from such high self-esteem to a brittle train wreck. He is top of his game at work with everyone admiring his accomplishments and work ethic, but when the office is closed and its personal time he turns into this confused, damaged and wrecked man. He is seeking therapy and thank goodness for that because it is a crutch that he needs. I know that he means well and cares for me but there is NO physical intimacy other than an occasional hug and kiss. I have tried to build his self-esteem with caring gestures and love but it is not helping. I took him away this weekend thinking if I can only get him out of the environment for a quiet peaceful weekend he would be able to focus on me for a little bit and fulfill a need that I have and that is grow our relationship. I can’t handle hearing about his ex-lover who by the way gives nice women a terrible name. He states that he not yet ready to get into the physical intimacy while his self-esteem is so low. He wants to take things slow and make love to his best friend as he has always rushed in relationships. This has been 6 months and he seems to lower his inhibitions when he drinks which I believe is from this depression when the whore ex-girlfriend left him after cheating on him and aborting his child. He is struggling with the dark side weekly and I created a safe place for him where he can talk about things. He does go to therapy weekly and I like to think it helps. I am becoming FAR too confused and contemplating stepping away for a while so I can really determine if this is worth my time and effort. My return on investment seems minimal at best. His esteem makes him wonder why I can care for him with no motive. The dark side has prompted him to drink a lot! When is drinking his inhibition are lowered so he speaks freely. When the morning comes he is back to pity. I have money, family and amazing children. I do not need him to save me like he has tried to do in the past. Is there hope? Please helpppppp. Txs!!

  5. My boyfriend and I have had an on again off again relationship for the past 3 years. Most times my depression has driven him away, and his has driven mine away. Over the years he has been able to cope with his, but I have yet to cope with mine. In all honesty, I’m really jealous of him cause he has a close family, mine is broken. He has a very high self-esteem, where I think I’m worth less than worm poop. He treats me well, most of the time, but when he tells me he loves me and how beautiful I am; I just can’t bring myself to believe it. Lately I’ve really moody, and have been trying to make him feel bad cause I feel bad. I’ve been really nasty towards him, and take allll my anger and frustrations out on him. After doing this for a few days he told me he didn’t want to hear from me foe the weekend, and the EARLIEST he would talk to me was Monday. Let’s just say that was a good slap in the face saying, “Hey! You need to get your shit under control, before you lose him forever! I have an appointment tomorrow with an old therapist that helped me through a lot when I was younger. I know it’s one thing to say I love you, which I kept telling him, but it’s another to show it. Actions speak louder than words, so I’m praying he sees how much I love him. A lot of stuff has been going on, on his end, and a lot has been going on, on my end. I’m really hoping by going through therapy will help me feel good, help me focus on the good things in life, and help my relationship work out this time. I really do love, appreciate, and want him. I’m just having problems showing it, and pointing it out to him. I know how it feels to feel unloved, appreciated, and unwanted. It is not, BY ANY MEANS, a good feeling. My depression has been so bad he stopped eating. That’s the LAST thing I wanted. I hope all he wants is space, and not to end it. Please help!!! I really do love him!

  6. I have been married for 5 yrs now, but we have been together since our first son. So a total of 8 yrs. I’m not sure if its depression or not, but im starting to feel like it is. My spouse is like the energized and worker of this relationship. I stay at home with our 3 kids all day everyday. I have not had many female friends in my life period due to the fact I may not like how they act or im just not trustworthy. He is military so we hae traveled to 2 places in the last 4 years. With him working all the time, I feel as if im in his shadow and its really starting to bother me to the point to where I wanna give up! Since the beginning of our relationship there has been trust issues so it started out wrong. He has cheated on me with 2 people before he was due to deploy to Iraq in 2010. I was trying my hardest to forgive him due to us having children so i took him back. He promised me it would be better, we would get out more as a family and do more things just the two of us. That lasted for about a couple months then it was right back to him doing things by his self again. He has joined groups and everything and yes I could of went with him but i chose not to due to I know how i may act at times around females being in his face. His personality is very friendly he calls it. I call it toooo friendly he can meet males n females easily from day to day, but for some reason i cant and thats always been a problem with me as well. I just wanted to do more things as a family, while he seems more happier doing things on his own and without the kids. He says he perfectly happy nothing dofferent in the sexual side of our relationship. It’s just that i dont want to keep pushing at him to do things as a family if thats not what he really wants to do deep down even though he says he does. He does look at other females time to time nothing serious but that also bothers me as well due to me knowing that he cheated on me before. He doesnt really introduce me to people he knows because he says I have a attitude when I meet people so he rather not. That goes for people at work and etc. So i stick to myself daily in the house while he’s out talking to people daily n he never understands where i’m coming from. And there is lots of more stuff from finance and all that I feel like i have no conrtol over and its just really starting to make me think I want to call it quits. Any suggestions will help!! Thanks

  7. I think we often walk on eggshells when our partners are depressed, for fear of saying or doing things that may cause problems. It’s important to remember that we can’t give advice, and we can’t counsel them out of their depression. And, we have to be free to be ourselves, without watching everything we say and do!

    If you’re dealing with depression in a relationship, I urge you to contact a depression helpline or talk to a counselor in person. I know it’s easier and faster to ask for help on websites like this, but I can’t offer the support you need.

    I wish you all the best – I welcome your stories because I know that it helps us all see we’re not alone! Also, a depression support group would be another good way to get help with a partner’s depression. If there’s something like that in your area, please look into it. It could make all the difference in the world.


  8. I am 25 years old and have been with my partner for nearly four years. When I met my partner he was on anti-depressants, due to his last break up. He has been off these for some time now, as he found going to the gym was much more helpful for him. He now looks great and is going to the gym most days.

    However, there are some days where he seems very depressed, whether it be about work, our relationship or not having many friends. I find this hard to deal with sometimes as it comes from nowhere. He talks to me about how he feels, but he makes me out to be the bad guy.

    Since we have been together he has lost touch with his friends, this due to us moving from where we were living and partly because he never kept in touch with friends. If they invited him out he would never text back or answer their calls. Where we are living now is a small place and it is hard to meet people. I have suggested joining a club or asking his work mates if they would like to go for a drink and a game pool after work. His response is no because they have partners and that I am useless and should just shut the f**k up.

    I must say over the last year and half we have both been through a lot. We moved from Christchurch due to the earthquakes and there has been lots of illness in his family. I really don’t know what to do, I try to give him advice. I am very aware of his depression and try not to say certain things in case I upset him. I just wish he wouldn’t take it out on me and say he is going to cheat on me.

    I need help, I have no one to talk to about it.


  9. Hey, there.
    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 7 months now. We’re both 22, and in college. I’ve always struggled with depression, but I’ve managed to cope with it on my own and with some therapy. My love, however, is just seeing that he does have some pretty heavy depression and anxiety. He was pretty abused as a child. He was neglected by one parent, and fawned over by the other. He was completely sheltered, and is having a hard time learning how to be an independent adult. He gets angry whenever I try to help him with anything, so I just let him do things on his own. He constantly seeks approval from other people, which makes sense with his upbringing. He acts completely inappropriately publicly whenever I don’t pay enough attention to him. He is getting help, especially with the anxiety, but this is becoming a bit much for me. I love him so much, but I have my own depression and struggles to deal with. I was wondering if you have any advice for how I can continue to help him without compromising my own well-being.

  10. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m really sorry I can’t offer personal advice or help for you, as you struggle to understand and cope with your partner’s depression. You deserve to get good advice from someone you can talk to in person, so you can share exactly what’s going on in your partner’s life and your relationship. I can’t do that online, in this comments section. I may do more harm than good!

    However, I did write a follow-up article — it’s specifically for girlfriends who are involved with men who engage in self-harming behaviors.

    Helping a Depressed Boyfriend Who Cuts and Self-Harms

    I hope it helps – and I wish you all the best as you cope with your partner’s depression. Again, I’m really sorry but I can’t offer personal advice.


  11. Hi Laurie.

    I’m 16 years old and so is my boyfriend. We’ve known eachother for a little under a year, but we had an instant connection when we met. We talked on an off because we went to different schools and never got time to see eachother and I found out that he was a “player”. Eventually we just stopped talking and it became a thing to where we only talked ever couple months. Well, in January he switched schools and came to mine, since then we’ve been inseperable. He asked me to be his girlfriend February 3rd. At first, things were great then we started to fight some, and it wasn’t little fights. One got physical, he never layed a hand on me though. That was the first and last time it went that far. He always appeared as this outgoing, always happy teen. One weekend we hung out at his house and I spent the night, things went further than they should have; it wasn’t planned. No protection or anything. We had a pregnancy scare after that, but I’m not pregnant. Since then, I’ve seen a new side of him. He finally opened up to me. Turns out, he has depression, anxiety, and is suicidal. He selfharms to get by. I asked for his lighters and he gave them to me. It’s been a week since he’s burned. We hungout Friday and Saturday. Saturday afternoon we had sex, afterwards I had a weird feeling in my stomach & Started to bleed. He got scared and so did I. He had a breakdown, and cried and cried. He even tried to cut, but I took it away. I don’t know what to do or how to make him feel better. He’s been to a mental institution already. (3 months.) When he came out he wasn’t any better. He made me promise not to tell anyone because he didn’t want to end up back in one again. I don’t want to tell anyone because I don’t want him to feel I betrayed him and not open up to me anymore, but I would feel so guilty for not speaking up if something happened to him. He’s never happy anymore and it seems there’s nothing I can do. Please help me. It kills me to see him like this. Any advice? ):

  12. Hi Laurie,

    I am writing in hopes of getting some advice or at least a little better understanding of what I’m dealing with. Like many others who’ve posted comments, I met a terrific guy almost a year ago. When we started dating he made me aware of the fact that he works two jobs and is a single father of a son entering his freshman year of college. I was then and continue to be supportive. He never seemed to show symptoms of depression (or perhaps I overlooked some obvious signs). He frequently complained of being tired, but I assumed it was from working so many hours. He also frequently complained of not getting enough sleep although I’d notice that he slept in excess of 12 or 13 hours each night. After nine months of dating he abruptly stopped calling or responding to my calls or attempts to communicate. On the rare occasion that he does actually respond or initiate a conversation he assures me that he loves me, and that he simply is trying to resolve his issues by himself without his decisions impacting me or anyone else. Before this “out of the blue” episode our communication was superb. We spoke every day, several times a day and made every effort to see each other when our hectic schedules permitted. He has infrequently used the word “depressed”, but I always took it very casually and didn’t realize he might actually be clinically depressed. I suppose my questions are; will he “come back around”? and during this period of isolation, does he even remember what we had or think about me at all? It’s hard for me to understand how a person can communicate with me constantly and then not at all. Also, how can I NOT take it personally when he still manages to go to work and appears to function in other areas of his life. He doesn’t drink or smoke at all, he doesn’t hang out with the guys or anything, but seems to have totally wrapped himself up into work and sleep. I’ve met a few of his co-workers and besides saying he acts a little distant, they haven’t indicated any significant changes in his behavior. Any advice?

  13. Hello. I have been going through the works for the past year, and have finally realised I am suffering from depression in a very bad way. I had a major motorbike accident almost a year ago, and have been working very hard at getting my life together again. 8 Months ago I meet the man of my dreams. He absolutely blew me away in every possible way. 2.5 months after meeting he asked me to Marry him and I said yes. We were so happy. Over the past few months our arguments have become more freequent and more full on. I get to the point where I decide it’s time to wrap this all up and send him a letter with all that I am feeling (I turn away from talking about it, as I break down too often) and how it seems to be best for us to not be together. He never fights it, he takes what I say and acts on it. Days later I realise exacty what I have done and beg for his forgivness, to try again and give me another chance. We have been through that 3 times now.

    I did it again 2 days ago. I have been begging for his forgivness since the same night I wrote to him. But he has decided that he has had enough, no matter how much he loves me, he no longer sees a future with me. I have no control over what I am doing. I am unwell, very unwell. I lost my career and many friends and am struggling to hold onto a job. I live with this incredible man, and work with him too every single day. He came to my country to live and work a year ago, and has just told me he no longer sees a future for him in New Zealand, and it’s time for us to go our own way.

    I have tried to explain to him that I am so unwell, that I have lost this control of how I interpret things and react. I am seeing a doctor next week and will be seeking councilling as soon as possible!!! I need help desperately. I will not let him walk away because he thinks I am this person my brain has been making me. I want to hold onto him for dear life any way I can as I know how much he loves me too.

    How do I try to get him to understand that I WILL get better, that all of this has only happened because of my illness? If he understood this he might find the strength to stand beside me as I get help and get well. I am so broken right now. I may have survived a broken neck but I am unsure how to survive all of this. Any help would be so greatly appreciated.

  14. Hi Laurie i really hope you can help me. My relationship was a fairytale something that anybody dreams about. I met this girl we fell inlove it was just perfect. We had our little struggles in start but we never let anything break us. It has been 8months and in the start of Feb she started becoming distant emotionally. She was always very loving and intimate. She suffered from anorexia a few years back and she gets into these moods where she is really depressed and miserable. I saw the change except this time she didnt get better, we started arguing and fighting every other day because i told her she needed to just stop and try to show me that i even exist. I feel like when im with her she doesnt even care anymore its so depressing i cant tell you how much times ive cried. It has been 3 weeks of this and still fighting she is blaming me for her feeling bitter towards me because all i do is fight that she treats me wrong, but it is because i love her and i know how she really is towards me so i try. All day i text her i love her and everything but nothing works. I hope you can give me advice on how to deal with this because i dont want to lose her i really do love her.

  15. Hi Laurie,

    I’ve been reading your articles and need advise, my boyfriend of 3 years has recently dumped me saying that it is best for both of us. He feels that he keeps hurting me and he just cant go on as it’s a vicious circle of him hurting me, hating himself and then hurting me more as a result. The hurt is generally alcohol induced and he is like a different person when he’s drunk, this spiteful man who’ll say anything to hurt you true or false, he’s racist and a million other things I know that aren’t the real him.
    We have had a dramatic relationship I guess, in that we met far away from home and he ended up emigrating to be with me. As a result, we moved in together very quickly, it took him a long time to settle after the mood and his behavior was erratic and unlike I had ever seen in him before. Drunken bouts of verbal abuse and violence (not towards me or anyone in particular just behavioral like throwing glasses etc) I became quite concerned for his well being and then some time later after my insistence he went to the GP and was diagnosed with an aneurysm in his brain. They chose to do nothing but monitor it and do not seem to think it is linked with his behavior. He has had a lot of issues in his childhood, parents divorcing and sudden loss of his mother also and I think he never quite dealt with these.
    Anyway we returned home a year after he had emigrated and have been living and working back here for nearly a year. He has been very stressed in work and quite depressed being back home, I also think he has been very upset by the diagnosis of the aneurysm which I only natural. Eventually he went to a GP when the panic attacks anxiety and depression were too much for him to even get out of bed in the morning and the GP instead of referring him for counseling just doled out anti-depressants! Now they have helped but no one is monitoring him and I feel that he has stuff that needs to surface and be dealt with. He’s a man and disagrees and thinks there is nothing wrong with him, on a bad day, on a good day he agrees with my logic and wants to take action but then his stubbornness returns and he doesn’t.
    I love him so much, he has been everything to me and we have gone through so much together I feel we’re throwing it all away. I told him his we could save us if he saw a counselor or maybe went to couples counseling – to help him at least gain insight to the process, but he refuses.
    I know deep down he is a beautiful person and I often see this side of him again but it’s not as prevalent as it used to be. I know I cant force him to help himself but I really think we have something special and that he’s taking the easy way out by walking away rather than dealing with the situation. He’s got no family and as a typical guy doesn’t do much talking either and I just worry what will happen if left now. I need your advice on how to make him think rationally about all of this even though he’s depressed or worn out from all of the cycles of pain. I love him more than I have ever loved anyone and I know he feels the same about me, we have a truly deep connection (which probably sounds silly!) but I honestly cant give up and need advice on how to convince him this isn’t the way.
    I am hoping this will be a long break rather than a break up but as it stands we are over and I am devastated.
    Thanks, Mary

  16. I’ve been married under a year. After marriage I came to know that my husband is uninterested in me as he doesn’t find me desirable/attractive and doesn’t want to consummate the marriage. I’ve been very depressed and cry frequently. I am angry all the time and get very strained even at work. What can I do to alleviate the pain?

  17. Hi Laurie, when i got into the relationship with my boyfriend, i knew he had depression, we have talked about pretty much everything, and keeping our relationship open and honest with communication, knowing that we are in a long distance relationship might help, basically i just happened to be in a country close by him and suggested we meet up in a Neutral place, and he suggested i come over to his parents place for the holidays, so almost 3 weeks, we were both happily anticipating meeting each other after talking for 4 months, anyways, the problems started about a week into the visit, he stopped holding my hands and sitting next to me etc.. then he started to take himself away from spending time with me, he would say he needed to catch up on some work, he was never dis respectful but he seemed upset with me, which i later found out was not me at all, he told me that when i arrived it brought up all his issues of anger,guilt, revenge, resentment and confusion, which he feels he needs time to work on, i don’t know HOW to be part of his healing?? i feel helpless and i don’t want to pressure him. He is obviously not ready to make a commitment to me, but i still want to be part of his life! and i am seriously devastated that such an amazing person,who has been through so much is hurting and i cant help him. I would appreciate your advice on what role i should play in his healing or any advice you could offer.

    regards, Sammy.

  18. Hi Laurie, my name is Sam and my fiancee, or I guess I should say ex-fiancee broke up just before Christmas, she has not been herself, I have tried to be patient and I have tried to be there for her when ever I could, she has been so withdrawn, so isolated, she feels like she is misunderstood, attacked, unloved, which is the furtherest thing from the truth, her family and I really care and love her. I guess what I am trying to ask you Laurie is what should I do next, her mother doesnt want me to give up on her daughter, but she gave me the ring back and I am just wondering if she doesnt love me anymore and she doesnt see a future for us. sincerely, Sam

  19. hi my ex girlfriend is dateing a guy who takes anti- depressents she wants to leave him cus he clingy and wants to be around her 24/7 not giveing her alone time and she is really unhappy with him she wants to get back with me but is scared if she leave he will hurt him self what should she do to leave him with out him hurting him self or any1?

  20. Hi Laurie,

    I have a girlfriend whom we have gone out for 3 years .things were going pretty well for most of that time and the normal ups and downs in a relationship..we drifted apart at some point and we were working on that when tragedy struck. she lost her sister and i tried to be there for her at that time…its been two months and things have really changed . I no longer see her, when we talk on the phone she is soo distant untill i just opted to stop calling her. our relationship is not doing well and she annoyed me by telling me i was cheating on her…and i just came out and told her that i was tired of an absentee girlfriend

    i do not know what to do because i really love her and she says she is still adapting to the loss of her sister so she cant give me attention. I am faced with all sorts of temptation daily we are not intimate at all and its basically killing me..I don’t know if I am being so unfair not to give her space but its killing me slowly and i am loosing faith that it will get better at some point.she told me i was inconsiderate to expect a lot from her this soon but i honestly don’t know what to on the way forward ..because i dont want to let go of this means everything to me

  21. Hi there.
    I wrote on this site about 2 years ago when my fiance Rich had a nervous breakdown due to his depression. Thought I’d update you as a lot has happened since.
    When he had his initial breakdown, it was about a month after he admitted to himself that he had depression. He moved out of our flat and back to his parents for several weeks as he felt he could not put me through everything he was going through. He eventually moved back in and tried several different meds. Unfortunately due to other issues we had to move out of our flat and back to our respective parents about a year after this.
    Since then, he has had about 5 episodes of severe depression – each one has seen him change his meds, suffer black moods, sadness, anger and numbness. The last one was in August this year. I have tried time and time again to help him through his issues, but he will not talk about them to me, and cannot explain to me what some of the issues are behind part of his depression. At one stage he was telling me that everything was so bad for him that he considered suicide to end it all. At another stage he told me he wanted to break up with me, so not to put me through all of this. Then almost immediately after he said that I was the only person in his world who was there for him.
    After the last dark episode in August, there has been nothing more I can do for him. I have asked him to talk to me, and he won’t. I haven’t pestered him, but let him know I am here whenever he wants to talk.
    Sadly, last week, he has ended our 6 1/2 year relationship, advising me that he cannot get over his issues with me around. He feels we have grown apart and that we are not the people we were 6 years ago.
    As upsetting as it has been for me, I have accepted his decision, and have admitted to myself that there is nothing more I can do to help him. I still love him and care about him immensley, but it has got to a point now where I am bringing myself down in mood to try and level with him, which isn’t healthy for myself or him.
    So the moral of this is really just to say that you can only help people so much – they have to be able to admit to their issues and learn to help themselves.
    However, Laurie, I must thank you so much as I was writing on here a lot when he went through his breakdown, and your words of experience helped me so much through a very difficult time. Very grateful for finding this site and for all the advice and help I have gained from it.
    x x

  22. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Danny,

    I’m sorry to hear about your girlfriend’s depression, and how it’s affecting your relationship with her. It’s so difficult and heartbreaking, especially since it’s out of her control. Depression often has hormonal and/or chemical causes, and the remedy isn’t often simple or easy.

    I don’t have any concrete answers, but I wrote this article for you:

    When You Tried Everything, But Your Relationship Failed Anyway

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  23. Hello, after reading on here for hours I hope you can help me see some light, my girlfriend is depressed and even though we have been dating 6 months I’ve developed very strong feelings for her and truly feel she is the one she has made me feel something I’ve never felt before and it truly scares me she is depressed, granted this depression was around before I ever knew her I’m glad she knows she is depressed and she is seeking help now going to therapy.the other day she springs on me that she can no longer be my girlfriend and she wants to be just friends because she has lost her emotions towards me. she says how can I love you when I don’t love myself. she was extremely upset when she broke up with me and I feel that it just was not her breaking up with me but the depression that has over taken her. she has a friend who has over come depression and has been talking to her because she is the only one who can understand what she is going through. for the past 3 weeks I knew something was up from her being distant from me loss of sex drive and wanting to be alone. she has told me about her depression and was very open to me throughout everything she did warn me about everything but I’m just so beside myself because I’ve tryed so hard to make her happy and I don’t want it to end I felt she was my sole mate and in the beginning she felt the same and I know its the depression that caused all of this but my question to you is will she ever regain he feelings for me? I want her to get better and I care about her alot and in turn she cares about me alot which is why she broke up with me at the time that she did, but it just shattered my heart that she has lost feelings for me when I continued gaining feelings for her. and I know its all about time and I wish her the best but what do I do? I know I have to support her and I know no contact will most probably happen since the break up I haven’t texted her but she has texted me everyday and it kind if gives me mixed signals you know? we are both in college and actually have the same math class together so its not like we are never going to see each other just what can I do? will there be any hope for us in the future I mean I love this girl and she is my everything I can ever ask for. it just scares me to know she doesn’t feel emotions for me and there might not be an us in the future. when people usually over come depression do their feelings come back do they feel what the once did but lost because of the depression? thank you for your time it is greatly appreciated, Danny

  24. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Digi,

    Thanks for asking your question here, it’s good to hear from you. I’m sorry your boyfriend is so scattered right now – it must be very frustrating and lonely for you. It’s probably hard for him, too, as he’s struggling with his career and financial situation. Throw in the sex thing, and you’ve got a confusing, complicated situation!

    I wrote this article for you:

    What to Do When Your Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Time for You

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts there or here.


  25. My 1st love & I came back after 12yrs. We are now in our 30s. We ran into each other.8 months ago and were excited to be again. He had made so much money and all and the only thing he kept on saying was that he needs someone to talk to and to arrange his life. Though we’ve made love twice (which I initiated, it looks as if sex is not all he needs from me. For the first 4months of our reunion he was busy on a project, he promised he’ll give me more attention after wards and that he’d informed his family of me and that he take me to be introduced(for marriage). Unfortunately, the project upon which he spent all his money failed, he banked on another to start again with, that equally failed. Its been 5mths after the misfortune and my once beautiful relationship is now a shadow of itself. He doesnot give me attention anymore and doesnot let me pay him visits, although he pays me surprise visits @ intervals. He said he wants to be let alone, as he is working tirelessly to get back on his feet. I am always lonely, I complain to him and he says he understands that I need to give him sometime and we both to weather the storm together. This has taken 5months, I’m lonely and confused if he’s not interested in me anymore,but I love if so dearly and I believe he does as he always talks passionately about the fact that he disvirgined me and that he’d bin searching for me all along. What do I do?

  26. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Karen,

    I’m sorry to hear how much your boyfriend has been through, and how depressed he is. That’s so difficult to cope with, for both you and him.

    Sometimes our childhood or life events trigger depression and anxiety, and sometimes it’s just part of our genetics or physiological makeup. Some people can have horrific childhoods, yet never experience an hour of depression (pain and sadness, yes…but not severe depression).

    Other people have fantastic lives, yet are so depressed they can barely get out of bed!

    So, while your boyfriend’s experiences definitely affect him, they may not be the cause of his depression, anxiety, and panic. There may be something chemical going on in his brain, such as unbalanced hormones for example, that are contributing to his depression and negative feelings.

    I wrote this article for you:

    How to Help Your Boyfriend With Anxiety and Panic Attacks

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts there or here.


  27. Dear Laurie,

    I accidentally saw this forum of yours and wanted to post you my issues with my depressed boyfriend. My boyfriend Steve, has been suffering from servere depression since young. When he was a child, his mother remarried 4 times and moved them from places to places. She even sent him far far away in a high school for months. When he returned for vacation, his mother remarried and moved to a strange place where he has no place to stay. From all this childhood trauma, he became very depressed.
    Last September, he quited his job due to high stress and is jobless for a year. He is still searching for a job, which lead him to another round of servere anxiety and depression. He has too much time in a day and is always having panic attack and fear that he might not be able to find a job again. He feels helpless and keep self-blaming. He told me inside him there is a person keep telling him that he is useless, not worth, will not find a job, etc.
    I have tried to be with him and hope to make him positive again, but no use. I told him, i cannot help him if he refuses to help himself. I tried finding courses to him to attend so that he can re focus his mind while waiting for a suitable job to surface. But he just refuse to take the action of enroling the course.
    He self blamed, self pity every day. I duno what to do. I keep encouraging him but it seem that i slowly become exhausted. I am feeling that he is moving from depression to phychosis. But due to no income, he refuses to go for phycosis check up as it is very costly.

    Laurie, what should I do?


  28. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Jodie,

    I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression, and how it’s affected your relationship. Depression is so hard on love! No matter how much two people love each other, depression can wreak havoc that’s difficult to overcome.

    I wrote this article for you:

    Can Your Love Relationship Survive a Serious Illness? Perhaps…

    I hope it helps, and welcome your thoughts here or there.


  29. Hi, I’ve been in a relationship for 5 and a half years now, and until Xmas 2007 things were great, my boyfriend was very affectionate, complimentary, romantic, just everything a woman could wish for. Xmas 2007 he lost his mum, which was truly sad, but although he was saddened by this loss he seemed to cope, it wasn’t truly until the end of 2010 he seemed to changed quite significantly, he became snappy and there was no intimacy in our relationship. Xmas/New Year he totally snapped and said he was fed up with things and didn’t know what he wanted. I told him until he sorted himself out and saw a Doctor not to come back, this totally broke me as I love him deeply and totally know I want the rest of my life to be with him and I know he did me until this change in him, which we now know to be Depression, he goes to cognitive therapy once a week but 7 months on feels no change, he will not take medication under any circumstances either. I use to see him 3 – 4 nights a week now i’m lucky if it’s once a week or even fortnight. Amongst lossing his mum he has a lot of financial issues and work stress due to recent self employment put upon him.
    He shows no love towards me anymore, although i continue to let him know how i feel and support him from the distance that I can.
    Can I handle this situation any better and will he be the person he was with me again one day? I jsut so ahte the day i told him to go to the Doctors, as i think if he had not been told it was depression maybe he would of just got through it.Thanks if you could advise me in anyway


  30. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Kate,

    I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression, and how it is affecting your relationship with him – and your relationship with your parents!

    No, I do not think going to a strip club is part of wanting space and coping with depression. Depression is an emotional and mental health issue. Going to a club is part of his moral character – who he is as a man. I would date someone with depression, but I would not date a guy who goes to strip clubs.

    I also think moving in together after nine months is too soon! I hate to say it, but I suspect I’d agree with your parents about not seeing your boyfriend for awhile. I think he has some issues to work out, and that he can’t be a full partner – the man you need and deserve – while he’s in the throes of his depression.

    I wrote this article for you:

    5 Signs It’s Time to Take a Break From Your Relationship

    I hope it helps. I also encourage you to create a wonderful life for yourself, so you don’t have to rely on your boyfriend or parents to support you financially! Get a job that allows you to have your own apartment. Get friends, so your best friend isn’t a guy you met nine months ago. Get emotionally healthy, so you can recognize when someone isn’t ready for love yet.

    You’re on the right track, especially if you’re seeing a shrink! That’s great. It’s hard work, I know, but it’ll make you stronger, healthier, and better.


  31. Laurie its Kate again,
    situation has changed dramatically since the post i made on saturday.
    i found out on saturday night that he went to a few strip clubs this was the night he said he didnt feel like hanging out. it really upsets me that he did this but after i had thought about it a few times i realised that it was apart of his depression maybe and just wanting to have some space. could this be true? however it gets worse cos that night i hooked up with one of my friends i was confiding in about the problems with my boyfriend and i feel so guilty for it and know it was a mistake. except last night my boyfriend invited me over for dinner and then i found a msg in his phone (he was asking me to show him how to save a number)and i saw one to this lady saying “dont mean to be forward but do u know any single intelligent good looking females? i dont mean to sound desperate but a good one is hard to find” she replied “not off hand but i will put out some feelers” this really really upset me because i don’t know whether that type of behaviour is cos he was obviously pissed off at me that evening (whether or not that was a contributing factor)is it something u might see in someone with depression? i know that i have done the wrong thing by cheating on him but i myself know my feelings and that it meant nothingg. i confronted him about the msg but he said that it was a joke against one of the young girls who worked there and was sarcastic? he told me not to worry about it and he knows how it reads. so maybe he did regret it? im really not sure what to do now? what do u suggest? maybe a break for a few weeks?
    sorry to add another post his behavior just really confuses me atm and i dont know what to deem as part of his condition or he is simply so unhappy. help!

  32. Hi Laurie,
    i have been seeing myboyfriend for about 9 months now. he has been diagnosed with depression and is taking medication to treat it. every few weeks he becomes distant and basically shows all the behaviour discussed in this thread. we moved in together and it lasted 3 weeks of which he then told me that he couldnt support me financially and that he wasnt ready to move in but the way the situation is that i have no where to go but live with my parents again who hate him and tell me i cant see him. i was heartbroken when he told me i had to move out and i just want to go back cos things at home are terrible let alone i miss him… but he gives me no indication of when i can return. every few weeks he becomes really distant and the past 3 nights in a row he has fed me the line “just want to have a quiet one tonight” and keeps putting it off. which makes it so hard cos he is like my best friend so when i am upset he isnt there to support me sometimes cos he is so selfish when he gets in his moods.
    I dont know what to do? i am seeing a shrink but it is much better when it comes from someone who has expeirenced what i am going through. there is so much good in the relationship but when it gets bad it is really so bad and it upsets me so much.
    Im not sure what to do?

  33. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Harriet,

    Yes, I think you should see a professional counselor about the best way to cope with your husband’s negativity and depression. A professional doesn’t have to be someone public that damages your husband’s reputation. It sounds like your husband is trying to manipulate you.

    It also sounds like he’s emotionally abusive (you have no support, you’re isolated, everything thinks a certain way about you, and that everything you do is wrong).

    I just wrote an article about the abuse dynamic:

    The Abuse Dynamic – Why Women Who Are Abused Can’t Walk Away

    I really think you should read this article, because it sounds like your husband’s issues go beyond “just” depression.

    The most important thing is to start connecting with women who are your friends. Don’t let him isolate you. Don’t let him destroy your positive attitude and your children’s perception of you!

    Even if you don’t have family support, you don’t need to keep struggling with your husband’s negativity and depression alone. You CAN find friends who will love and support you, perhaps even in a healthier and better way than your family could.

    What do you think? Please comment here, or on my article about abuse.


  34. Hi,
    I have been reading the above blogs and recognise all of it, but I have got an additional problem: my husband, who is badly depressed every few years or so, is a GP and as such knows everything (well) about depression, but totally denies it whenever I mention the possibility. It’s me that is the problem and I need to see that, according to him. I won’t go into details, but I have been coping with this for over 20 years now. He won’t let me talk to any professional, because they all know who he is (he says) and that might cause him to lose his position (he says). It doesn’t help of course that he is under tremendous pressure at work and I have always tried to do as much as possible at home for him, but I also work in a job Ilove. According to him, I don’t earn enough money! He is very negative about everything and everybody and I have always coped with it, as I am a very positive person (and he resents that as well), but lately I have found it more and more difficult to cope with his negativity. Don’t get me wrong, I love him very much and he is usually lovely and charming and intelligent and most of the time he manages to control his negativity, but I get all of it at home. The worst thing is for me the lack of real affection towards our 4 children when he is like this: he almost completely ignores them at the moment. They are old enough to understand that he does love them really and they love him, but they don’t like his attitude towards me. I don’t know what to do, as I can’t really financially support myself, have no family support as I live in a different country and don’t want to leave him because of the children and because of all the good things in our life, but I am at my wit’s end and can’t keep my positive front up much longer. Is it normal for depressed people to want to isolate their partner, tell their partner that everybody thinks the same way about you as they do, that everything you do or don’t do is wrong? Should I go to a professional anyway, no matter what he says (I would destroy him professionally)to ask if he can be made to do something about it.Please give me some advice.

  35. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Lara,

    I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression…it’s such a difficult thing to deal with, for both you and him!

    One option is for you to give him some time and space. Tell him you’re available if he needs to talk, and let him approach you. If a predetermined amount of time passes (which you’ve set in advance, such as six weeks or three months — whatever you decide is reasonable according to your personality and lifestyle), and he’s still incommunicado, then it might be time to give him more “formal” space. Take a break from the relationship.

    Another option is to call a counselor or depression help line, and see what they say. Talking it through with someone in person can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to figure out how to respond to a depressed boyfriend.

    Also, learn as much as you can about depression and how it affects relationships. The more information you have, the more you’ll understand your boyfriend.

    It’s really important not to stay in a relationship out of guilt or a misplaced sense of wanting to help someone who can’t be helped (except professionally, by a doctor or counselor). You probably care for or even love your boyfriend…but if he has serious emotional health issues, he needs to work through them before he’s ready for a healthy relationship.

    I hope this helps…I’m sorry I don’t have any real answers for you! This is one of those delicate, difficult situations that love relationships bring.


  36. I dont know if anyone is still reading this thread but i really need to talk to someone who understands what i am faced with currently. My boyfriend of 9 months appears to be suffering from depression. He has not sought medical support but the symptoms seems common with everything i have read. He is listless, non communicative and is searching for “meaning in his life” while “wanting space”. I can understand the situation rationally but the more difficult thing is what to do. Do i give the space and allow days on end to go by with no contact or do i show my support of what he is going through by constantly checking in with him? I really do not want to abandon him during a time when he probably needs love and support but most of my actions are met with little or no reaction. if you have any advice, please let me know.

  37. Hi everyone, I have been dating a guy for a while now and he was recently away for work. Previous to being away he was incredibly loving, always full of kind words and wanted to spend time with me etc. After being away for a month he came back and though was excited was very strange. He was having anxiety attacks and he could not put a reason to them. He seemed really depressed and got more and more distant with me. Stopped telling me he loved me and didnt want to seem to want to spend time with me or speak to me. We were supposed to spend christmas together and then he decided he wanted to go spend time with his family…alone. He seemed to be ok spending some time with a couple of his friends if they would go to his house, and seemed to be more willing to see them then to see me. My issue is that I cannot figure out if all this that is going on is depression related, or relationship related. He told me his feelings have not changed and that he hopes when he comes back from spending time with his family that he will be back to “normal”. I have no idea what to do, the night before he left he told me he would visit with me, but then wanted me to go there because his two guy friends were coming over. I was hurt and told him maybe he needs to let me go and start fresh, so now I don’t even know the status of our relationship (to make things more complicated i suppose). We now havent talked for two days. I’m so mixed up…any enlightenment would be so helpful…even if it seems to be more relationship than depression, some piece of mind would be so helpful

  38. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Michelle,

    It’s great to hear from you again ~ I love when people come back! :-)

    I subscribed you with the email address you provided, and hope it works…you should have received a confirmation.


  39. Hi Laurie! I’m the Michelle that was commenting in July. I just referred someone to your blog and decided I’d like to subscribe again but when I click subscribe, I don’t get what I need to subscribe. Is there a problem? May I still subscribe? Thanks, Michelle

  40. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Ahh, I see, Susan — I apologize for misunderstanding you!

    That’s great about your meditation classes and counseling, because those activities will keep you connected with yourself. And, they’ll keep you physically and emotionally healthy.

    When you say that all the joy has gone out of your life, it makes me wonder if your happiness is tied to your partner? I think all of us — men and women — need to find happiness and joy in multiple sources. Work is one source…and so are hobbies, travel, recreation, family, creativity, movement, volunteering, exploring nature, cooking, reading, gardening….there are so many possibilities to experience happiness!

    I think it’s important to create a life that offers fulfillment and happiness on many levels, so that if one light goes out, then we have others burning.

    You’re not ready to let go of your partner, and I shouldn’t have pushed you in that direction or imply that the relationship is over! That was my mistake. But, you don’t have to be in a broken relationship to mourn the changes that your partner’s depression brought to your relationship — and to your hopes for your relationship. Your partner is different than you expected and hoped for, and I think you need to let go of that. Maybe you have — and maybe that’s part of the process of accepting him for who he is.

    You didn’t do anything terrible! You gave up everything for him, but it wasn’t enough to save him from his depression — and it’s not enough to create a healthy relationship. Your partner needs to recover and heal…and giving him that space may be more difficult than loving him up, but it may be the best thing you could do for your relationship!

    I wish you health and joy in your life, my friend. And, please feel welcome to come back anytime and let me know how you’re doing, and how he’s feeling….


    PS About the meditation — it really does take practice, like any exercise! The more you do it, the easier and more satisfying it’ll get…

  41. Thanks Laurie for your response and your time,

    We might have been at cross purposes a little as my original query about recovery was focussed on his recovery from depression – not mine from the broken relationship. I am trying to help his recovery by giving him the space to ‘recover’ he has requested but this is really hard for me as I miss him, his touch and the many good things we shared and it adds to my unhappiness. As I said I sent a photo a couple of weeks ago – just to let him know I was here and caring – I’ve bought a book which I’ll send along, perhaps next week, for the same reason. Hopefully not to pressure him but just to confirm that I’m thinking of him, he needed so much attention, praise and help that I’m concerned about him being totally alone as both his daughters are away at university – and very tied up in their own lives.

    I started meditation classes 5 weeks ago and counselling last week so I am trying to do something positive to help myself but the way I cope (or have coped with major problems in the past) is by understanding and so far I have no answers. Except all the information on depression which I’ve subsequently read; all information that I bitterly regret not wanting to believeaccept when I looked it up the first time round. I just can’t understand how anyone (no matter how severe the problem) can treat another human being with such callous, clinical cruelty while simulataneously asserting their boundless caring, supportive qualities. Unless the gap between what he (in his heart) knows is good and kind and his own behaviour is just one of the things he is denying.

    You are telling me to rebuild my own life and implying that the relationship is over. But I just don’t think I can accept that. I spend half my life hoping for a text, a call, a letter anything that will provide some hope even though I’m scared to think about how I would cope when he returns.
    I am 60 years old and was just about to retire (as he wished so that we could spend more quality time together??)so I’ve stayed on at work; to give me some purpose and something to fill my days and, as my siblings live away, I need to be alert and on hand for my elderly mum. So even though all the joy has gone out of my life I really am trying to keep going. I’d like to understand what terrible thing I must have done to make him destroy myself, my life and my future so completely when I did everything in my power to love, help and support him. I put him, and his needs, before me as I have done with everyone all my life.

    I do appreciate that I sound like a complete wet; I am floundering though I will persist with the counselling and will try and get a grip. So far I am absolutely hopeless at meditation with so many things whizzing round my head.

  42. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Susan,

    I’m so sorry to hear how things are unfolding between you and the love of your life…it sounds like you’ve been through so much with him.

    I encourage you to focus on getting as emotionally and spiritually healthy as you can. And, I think that involves talking to a counselor or therapist. You need to get in-person support as you progress towards healing and wholeness…and that can be BOTH a slow process and a blinding flash! That is, you may experience spurts of growth and health, and then lose ground for whatever reason (including your monthly cycle and hormones).

    Healing from a broken relationship takes time, and it’s different for everyone. But since you’re in so much despair and grief, I urge you to talk to a professional. You need an objective eye and clarity — and the guidance of someone who can help you heal.

    Also, there’s no point in wondering how you’ll forgive him if he returns. Who knows if he’ll come back — and who knows if you’ll even want him if he DID come back?

    Instead of focusing on him, I encourage you to get strong and healthy as a woman. A single, strong, healthy woman.

    Call a counselor or women’s help line, and let me know how it goes!


  43. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Andrew,

    It sounds like your wife had an emotional affair — and is still involved with her “friend.”

    I’ve written several articles about emotional affairs. Check these out, and let me know if they help:

    How to Recognize an Affair of the Heart

    Tips for Surviving an Emotional Affair


  44. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Zenn,

    If your girlfriend is violent, then you need to end the relationship immediately! There is absolutely no reason to stay in a relationship that is so abusive — and depression is NOT an excuse for that type of treatment.

    I think you need to ask yourself why you’re staying in a relationship with someone who is so destructive, who treats you so badly. Ending unhealthy relationships isn’t about running away from problems or giving up — it’s about making wise choices and taking responsibility for your life!

    Since you can’t change your girlfriend, you need to figure out what you can do to change your situation. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said you think you need an outside professional opinion…and I hope you call a counselor or free support line for help.

    The bottom line is, I think you’re in an unhealthy relationship. And, I think you’re staying in it for the wrong reasons…and I hope you find the in-person support you need to get out of it.

    Keep in touch — I’d love to hear how things are going for you….


  45. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Jane,

    I think that the only thing worse than suffering from depression — and letting it affect your loved ones — is not getting help with it! Some emotional health issues do resolve themselves, but many need to be treated by a counselor, psychologist, life coach, etc.

    Of course you don’t want to abandon your boyfriend…but you also don’t want to “enable” him or help him stay where he is. I don’t know what exactly you can do to help him and your relationship, but I think you should talk to someone in person. You need to run through your relationship and your boyfriend’s ways of handling life with someone who is objective and skilled in helping people coping with depression. And, who can help loved ones like you cope with partners who are depressed!

    So, I encourage you to call a counselor, help line, or even a psychologist who specializes in depression to figure out you can help your boyfriend and improve your relationship.

    I hope you come back and let me know how things go…


  46. Hello,
    My story is of a very unhappy life; 33 years of living hell in an unhappy marriage due mainly to a number of other people’s needs being more important than mine eg my younger son – a lung disease victim. After my separation it took me 5 years to recover then 2 years ago I met a wonderful man and we quickly feel head-over-heels in love and I had so many new and happy experiences – it seemed as if someone was smiling on me at last. This man is the love of my life. A few things concerned me: he had no friends, he was very critical of other people, he used words like belittle, status and was ‘touchy’. After about 3 months he told me that he had a depression problem (I think it had been ongoing for 1218 months at that point) but things were looking up with our relationship though it never seemed to totally improve during our 1st year. He was also on benefits on account of this problem. At the time I admit I was fairly shocked, tried hard to be supportive but found it a bit difficult as I had (somehow) come through a truly awful life. However he had a traumatic divorce when his wife left him with young children to bring up when she left for a rich man destroying their business which left him mid 50s with no job and two very young children. She never provide a word or a single penny of support or help despite an affluent lifestyle.This was followed by an unhappy relationship with an abusive ‘power woman’.
    During that first year there were a couple of incidents when he withdrew rather than admit he was wrong and that caused me huge distress as I’m a kindly sort who alway puts other people before myself. He also needed a great deal of help and support so much so that I felt almost squeezed dry especially as I had gone into the relationship feeling as if I just needed someone or me – but I was doing so much giving and little receiving. However we were inseparable and totally in love and had some many good times. Though I was reluctant to divorce and marry him, despite his requests, mainly due to a nagging concern about his behaviour.
    In our second year together I suffered an endless stream of blows; my mother & sister both struck with cancer, my sick son had 4 major crises, an uncle and a close friend died a dear friend had a traumatic pregancy and eventual Down’s child and I needed help and support but little was forthcoming. His interest felt mechancal,as if he was reading questions from ‘The Kind Persons’ Guide’ and when he got to no. 6 it was time to forget it totally and go to sleep. He went from being ‘touchy’ to selfish & quite unkind. There was a major incident when I got back from a clinic where my mother’s cancer had been diagnosed and really needed some kindness and support. He’d had a problem with one of his daughters that I asked him to keep while the next day so I could cope but he continued pressing his story until, in despair, I shouted out that I couldn’t take a ‘selfish family’ story that day. Result he withdrew totally for 5 days when I was in despair. All this time he was strongly asserting that he was a kind, caring, supportive person when his actual behaviour was the opposite. He could never, ever say sorry or accept any fault for anything.
    It seemed as if my needs were some sort of pressure that, caused him to start pulling back from me and this, in turn, caused me much unhappiness and tension. About this time too his financial situation was becoming desperate as he had almost exhausted his savings. This continued for 5 months me becoming more anxious and him more difficult, the last few weeks much more so with ‘odd behaviour’ I didn’t recognise the depression storm clouds though he was becoming more sel-absorbed and clincially cruel. Then a huge row when all my fears and concerns erupted. I know I went over the top and I now know that this pushed his condition over the top too – this grieves me and I feel so guilty. I rang him after a week and we spoke and met up a few times – but he was distant and unwilling to discuss anything but mundane things – any suggestion of ‘us’ or my feelings brought a complete blank or the phone going down.
    I was distraught, unhappy, griefstricken, angry – everything and he was clinically detached “we had argued, he had been offended and had withdrawn, totally normally, understandable and entirely justified, any mention of my feelings brought stares of disbelief.
    After a month of this I visited him and brought up the subject of ‘us’. He (the love of my life) looked at me as if I was a thick, tiresome piece of trash and said slowly that “it might have ‘seemed’ like we were in love but sometimes partners like me assumed their partner returned their feelings when they did not. That it was a bit strange the he had been head-over-heels in love with his former abusive girlfried, but that he felt nothing for me even though I was the kindest, most considerate, most caring, generous and thoughtful person he had ever met. If there was any chance that he might find some feelings for me I had to leave him completely alone for him to ‘recover’. I was in total despair and spoke of my unhappiness and the wonderful things we had shared”. He is response was that my feelings were not under consideration – what he wanted had to happen but there was only the very slightest chance he would find something feeling for me and that my thoughts were completely irrelevant.
    Since then I have been near-suicidal with grief and loss, also been angry and disbelieving about his callous cruelty,everyday has been a nightmare and I have had so little happiness in my life. I have been in touch just one in the last couple of months – I sent him a photo of himself; just to let him know that I was here and caring. I got a thanks email but no reply to my response. I am so hurt and wounded and since then have read all the internet info I could find so now appreciate the depression aspects and not to take things personally but too late.
    I really don’t know what to do, to try and help him or me. Do people really recover from this, I don’t think he has consulted his doctor recently though he was on medication earlier in the year and having counselling later (I’m pretty certain he was telling her lies or recounting things out of context so that he never appeared to be anything but perfect). If so after how long and what happens, is it a slow process or a ‘blinding flash?. I fear that will be a problem becaused if I realised I’d done a quarter of the things he has I would be inconsolable. How do I cope with myself, my grief and if he returns from where ever his is how do I forgive? I don’t have the knowledge of the real person to give me some faith and courage.

  47. Hi Laurie

    Thanks for the advice it agreed with a lot of things I had thought to do. I have been reading a lot about depression and we seem to be getting furhter along. Only minor setback so far is that he mistrusts the medication the doctor has given him, and hasn’t taken it so far but we spent the weekend together, (he called me and wanted to come over, so a small step forward) he says he will take the medication as he realises it will help and he really wants to not be so afraid and uncertain all the time. Time will tell. I worry that his parents aren’t making sure he takes it, as they don’t really like medication for anything. It must be hard for them as he is 27 and is not able at the moment to still be independant like he was. But I’m taking it one day at a time, I beleive that one way or another there is light at the end of the tunnel, Just how long the tunnel is may be another matter.

    One of the hardest things, is not blaming myself for things, as if his non-communication is somehow my fault, It is difficult to accept that he is not always doing things through choice, his brain just isn’t working properly. Positivity all the way, even if it is, yay, I got a txt msg after 3 days, it’s better than none at all. It’s hard but talking and writing definately helps.

  48. Thanks Laurie

    My boyfriend has started counselling and has also started antidepressents. I am also going to start counselling myself. I will let you know the outcome.


  49. My wife is depressed and is seeking help. She had an affair with someone but it didnt get to a sexual level. she is still in contact with him and tells me there is nothing going on and im in the wrong for feeling like there is. How do I deal with this?

  50. Hi I’m zennin and I try soooooo hard to deal with my gfs depression as I have been reading posts here for a while now in hopes of doing some diy depression repair ? But lisa is aware of her sickness and knows she needs help but refuses to do anything? I am a really easy going guy that not much in life actually (sets me off) stresses me out exept when I can sense the thoughts of my gf are very eratic (scattered) so when I ask I get agressivness in return? The most part of which frustrates me is she get majorly agressive before the point? I guess it stems from my old interest in reading body language. Also sometimes I feel when I anylise her she feels as if I’m attacking her so she does her best to lie and cover her feeling telling me I’m wrong or I’m a f?ckwit ?
    Its really damaging anyway I don’t want to break up with the girl but
    Sometimes it gets really bad and she resorts to physical violence ( as in punches to my face) and I feel as though she only clings to me in fear of this lonliness or as I always try and do damage control when it affects her in public.
    As of late I have begun to just lock her out of my feeling and leave her alone somewhere other than home to give a taste of lonliness. Her parents have just ignored her when ever she has a episode so she’s learned that these episodes are scary for everyone around her so I feel that she using it as a sort of emotional armour?
    I’m really scared that the two years I’ve spent with this girl is in vein and has had no purpose other than my damage control work? I have insecurities aswell as does any person for being homeless in their child hood but the way I repair is don’t leave it alone until every possible outcome has been covered and revised lol I try to see all angles in every situation there for I have planned for the worst and hope it doesn’t happen
    I’m just tired and worn from as a woman put it earlier in these posts her emotional rollercoaster it feels like I got on this ride two years ago and am still her like the guy forgot to turn it off? I need some outside proffesional opinion on this she says it will never go away as its a disability not a sickness, I believe otherwise I’ve tried to prepare her mentally for her battle with this and I’ve also told her that only she can battle this others can only offer advice and strategies

    I have never run from anything in my life and I’m not about to begin I love this woman and I hope to change my approach to this hellish sickness

    P.S – I have nicknamed her angry side “the tuffie” in hopes to help her recognise when and why these thoughts came to be ?
    Oh yeah she was medicated at the age of sixteen and her meds have never changed since? Is this normal??

    A caucasian in need

  51. I think my boyfriend suffers from depression and its starting to take its toll on me. He suffers from mood swings quite alot at the moment. Things aren’t going too well at work for him, he doesn’t have much money, he has very low self worth, and always thinks that I’m too good for him. He can be very negative towards me and quite self involved even when things are important to me. I take it all quite personally. I do know he loves me and cares about me, but sometimes only wants me around when he feels like it. I’m not sure how to go forward with this as he doesn’t want to speak to any professional about it. He’s been through alot in his past but sometimes I feel like he uses it as an excuse (as horrible as this sounds). He has admitted to me before that he pushes me to see how much he can get away with. Im not really sure what to do as I dont want to just abandon him, but its affecting me and our relationship.

  52. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Angie,

    I’m so sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression, and how it’s affecting your relationship. It sounds like it’s been a long road of ups and downs, highs and lows, love and separation.

    If you stay with him, living in the house together, then you need to accept that this will be the “normal” cycle of your relationship. Can you live with his episodes pulling away and then coming back? Can you live with how he treats you, both good and bad?

    To make the decision of whether you should stay or leave, you really need to think long-term. That is, do you want to be where you are in six years from now, ten years, 20 years? It sounds like now’s the time to make that decision, and then make the best of what you decide.

    I don’t know if he’s getting counseling or taking antidepressants now for his depression — but sometimes it takes ongoing therapy to cope (whether that’s medications, regular counseling sessions, a support group, etc).

    It might be really helpful for you to talk to a counselor yourself, just to gain clarity and insight. Sometimes we need to talk to an objective third party to help us figure out what we’re doing with our lives and relationships. Also, if you decide to stay, a counselor can give you techniques for responding to your boyfriend when he blames you for everything.

    Letting go of or re-adusting the hopes and dreams you have of a happy life with your boyfriend is a sad thing to do….but you can’t hold on to how you wish your relationship could be. As hard as it is, you need to accept that this is the way he is and the way your relationship (or marriage, one day!) will be. The only person you can change is yourself — how you respond to him. And, if that’s too much, then the only option is to leave (or stay mired in sadness and depression, which it doesn’t sound like you want to do. Most people don’t! But some aren’t motivated or strong enough to make changes on their lives).

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor, and let me know how it goes…

    All the best,

  53. Hello everyone.

    I have been reading all your comments and just want to say I can relate to every one in detail. My fiance has just told me that he cannot see a future with me. He has gone from being the most loving caring nicest person to shutting me out. We have been through this before which is why this is so hard.

    we have been together 6 years and moved into our home together nearly 4 years ago. He has finished with me in the same “cutting off” way a few times early on in our relationship. Just after we moved in he had one of his I dont want to be with you and at that time I immediately moved out but within a month we were together again as happy as ever.

    He acknowledges he has depression and had counselling 2 years ago which helped him so much he was so happy to realise this was an actual problem.

    He propsed to me last year in the most romantic of ways and we have been so happy planning our wedding. However he was working away in January and texting me constantly saying how he could not wait to get home then on arriving home I felt the usual shutting down starting which we talked about and he said it was irriational but he was blaming me for things like the cold weather and his work getting quiet. He booked to go to the doctors and for counselling which is why I think this is all about his depression. Then out of the blue the wedding is off and he cant see a future.

    I cancelled the wedding but said I am not giving up on him as I recognise this is one of his episodes. However this is so upetting for me as I am living in the same house as someone who does not want to be with me after all our dreams we had. However he still gives me a cuddle in bed and a kiss goodbye when he leaves but again my mind is so mixed up I dont know whether this is him being just nice to me so I dont go mad or whether he is on the way back.

    He can cope with everyone else in his life but blames me for everything.

    Shall I just stick it out or should I just have some pride in myself and stop humiliating myself? I am so sad sad sad


  54. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Ali,

    I’m glad this site has helped you, but sorry to hear about your partner’s depression. It truly is a difficult thing to overcome in a love relationship.

    It sounds like your relationship and communication with him is changeing — which is normal! As we become more comfortable with our partners, we let our true selves show…both the best and worst parts of ourselves!

    I encourage you and your partner to go to couples counseling, and learn how to communicate when he projects his feelings on you. A counselor can teach you and him how to interact in healthy ways, and how not to let his depression get the best of your relationship.

    You’re right that the way your relationship is headed may permanently damage you, especially since it’s difficult to stop a downward spiral once it’s started. But, if you can be honest and vulnerable with a counselor and commit to building a healthy relationship, then this could be just be a valley in an otherwise happy love life!

    I hope you find the solution that works for both of you, and your relationship.


  55. Hi All. I am glad I stumbled upon this site as it has made me understand a few things.. My partner of a year has severe depression, but it comes and goes. It normally lasts for 3 or so days and then he’s back to his happy, positive upbeat self. His episodes can come on once a week, or sometimes only once a month. I’ve noticed the last few times though it is getting worse. He is on medication for anxiety and he does go to therapy, but I don’t think he is discussing these episodes at all. He talks about the breakdown of his marriage and problems within his family and basically everything else but this.
    This week he has blown a small mis understanding between us into a massive issue and is telling me how horrible what I did was. When I didn’t do anything wrong. I am beginning to understand that he is projecting his issues onto me, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less. He is withdrawn, won’t talk to me and when he does it is intense negativity about himself and how he doesn’t deserve anything good and that I deserve better then him & that he hates himself, he doesn’t belong anywhere. He has gotten quite nasty towards me this time. He always finds some reason to beat himself up and hate himself more. However minor the ‘reason’.
    When he is his normal self, what we have is amazing and he is the best person to be around. But he just snaps with no warning and becomes a totally different person.
    I have tried to be supportive and reassure him how much I love him and that there is no one more perfect for me. I have tried being firm with him, I have tried just listening and biting my tounge I have tried making him see it a different way.. but lately I have snapped and gotten upset when he talks this way. I can’t help it and I feel so guilty but it breaks my heart every time. I just don’t know what else to do. I will not leave him beacuse of this, but it is breaking me and I’m worried it will permanently damage us.
    Apologies for the mammoth post..

  56. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Zoe,

    I’m sorry to hear that your partner is depressed — coping with a breakdown can be very difficult and stressful for partners, family members, and friends. It’s good that he has his parents to support him, and I hope he’s seeing a counselor or psychologist.

    You sound very self-aware and insightful, and I think that going to a counselor is a great idea. You need to figure out your boundaries, and how you can help him without losing yourself or getting drawn into his depression.

    I also love the idea of taking dance classes to get fit and increase your mind-body connection. And, it’s great that you’re staying connected to your family! They sound so supportive — I think you’re very lucky that they want you to be happy, yet are honest about how they feel about your partner. There’s nothing wrong with them not being all ga-ga over your partner and being real about it, and I’m so glad you and they are still close.

    As far as helping your partner not feel so alone….it’s difficult to know what advice to give you without actually knowing him, you, and your relationship.

    I want to encourage you to re-evaluate your relationship with him, and make sure you’re not staying with him out of guilt or a misplaced sense of responsibility. This would be a great thing to talk about with your counselor — how healthy your relationship with him is, and if he’s capable of even being in a long-term committed relationship at this point in his life.

    That said, I understand that you want to help him not feel so alone. One suggestion is to learn as much as you can about depression. I think you’ll find that people struggling with depression may not be “helped” by their loved ones as much as their loved ones would like, because depression can sometimes be caused by a chemical or hormonal imbalance. So, you can express to your partner that you’re there for him until the cows come home, but he may not really get it because of his wonky chemicals and hormones.

    You can do everything in your power to make him feel loved and supported, but you can’t change how he feels. And, you can’t take his struggle with depression away. This is a serious mental and emotional illness that he needs to get professional help with.

    That said, here are some practical things you can do: call or email him regularly, express your love and willingness to help, support him as he goes to counseling by perhaps offering him a ride or meeting him for coffee afterward, ask if he wants to go to a support group, invite him to take dance lessons with you (or do some form of exercise together — apart from your own dance class), and suggest that you’ll go to a couples support group or counseling with him. You could also read books about depression and love relationships together — I’m a strong believer in couples reading books about love together, and talking about what they’re learning!

    I hope this helps, Zoe, and that you let me know how things are going….


  57. Hello

    It’s so good to know that there are so many other people going through the same thing as me. My partner of nearly 3 years has recently suffered a breakdown, actually it was the beginning of January but it seems like only the other day. He has moved back in with his parents while he deals with his depression, some days he copes really well and we chat on the phone and he comes over to see me, but for the last week he has gotton so depressed that he doesn’t even call. I thought I should just give him some time, but he is so scared all the time that he is just so quiet and does nothing. I know he wants to get better as he has told me so and he is trying but I’m not sure whether to call him just so he knows I still am here for him, I don’t want him to feel pressured but I want him to know that I support him. Also I’ve tried talking to his mother but I don’t think she knows quite what to do either. I am thinking of going to a counsellor to talk about things I can do to help and I am determined to keep positive. I have also decided to take up some new dance classes and I have my family nearby to talk to. Unfortunately they don’t know how to deal with my partner and he unfortunately has offended them all really badly in the past, so they aren’t too happy I’m still with him. But they understand it is my decision and they just want me to be happy. What other things can I do to help my partner not feel so alone?

  58. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Chemist, thanks for your thoughts on coping with depression. I appreciate your taking the time to comment!

    Gemma, I’m very sorry to hear about your boyfriend. That’s a very difficult thing for you both to be dealing with. It may be difficult to understand, but you need to remember that your boyfriend has a mental health issue that has nothing to do with YOU. He’s not trying to get rid of you, and he’s not trying to shut you out of his emotional life. He’s trying to cope with his feelings of depression, which may involve severe exhaustion, listlessness, indecision, and inability to make sense out of even the smallest of life’s challenges.

    Simply being around other people — even people you love — can’t treat severe or even mild depression. This is a serious illness, my friend. It’s not about being sad, and it’s not about your relationship.

    I encourage you to read as much about depression as you can. Try to imagine how it feels (after you’ve read about it — not now). Give your boyfriend some time and space to come out of it. Some people who cope with depression call it the “black dog” or compare it to a blanket that smothers the life out of them.

    Again, I’m sorry your boyfriend isn’t happy, and that he can’t be the boyfriend he was before…but he can’t help it and it’s not about how he feels about you. He may love you very much — you’re obviously a caring person — but he just can’t return those feelings right now. First, he has to get his mood and emotions stabilized.

    I hope this helps, and wish you the best of luck.


  59. If the doctors are not able to help to get out of depression then try to surround yourself with bright colors, listening to happy music, trying to join some group with lots of different people. Go window Shopping and try to distract your mind from those sad thoughts. I know this sounds easier than doing it, but once you are able to get yourself going, it will help immensely

  60. My boyfriend moved in with me, 500 miles from his homE. He moved back a few weeks ago after saying he was really ill, he has depression. Now he doesnt even speak to me. He said he can’t get better with me and there’s no way i can help. I always thought having someone around you would help. I don’t know if he ever loved me or meant the things he said. I cry everyday, can’t get over him because i care about him so much, he’s 19 and i’m 18. What should i think? I wish i could be inside his mind for a day just to see what he thinks. He said he knows he loves me and he always will but his pills numb the feelings he has for me. Why wont he let me be there? Or is it just a way to get rid of me?

  61. Just read through all these comments, and I’m close to crying.

    Mine is a depressed ex-partner, who left me 6 weeks ago. Looking back I can see that the depression hit him a couple of months before then. He’s had some really tough things happen in his life over the past couple of years, and then when those situations started turning up in his life again, it’s like something inside him just gave up. He really, really changed as a person, he was so selfish and withdrawn and unlike himself. We fought and he ended up breaking down and telling me he had to leave because he couldn’t give me what I wanted, couldn’t handle a relationship, there was something wrong with him and he was ‘broken’ and he needed to see a counsellor and get help.

    Since then… I don’t know. He kind of backtracked on how permanent the breakup was, we’ve agreed it’s just time and space apart ‘for now’, he contacts me (via email and text) all the time. But… he absolutely *refuses* to talk about anything ‘big and serious’ (in his words). Any time I suggest meeting up in person or talking things over, he snaps at me; any time I back away and start detaching, he goes into overdrive with signing off emails with kisses and reminding me of all the good times. I am confused and hurt, I have no idea what he wants from me, and I miss him like crazy.

    I think he’s seeing a counsellor now (although I’m not entirely sure). And his communication towards me has changed a bit as well – he does talk about some of the bad stuff happening in his life now, and he’s started acknowledging things about having a bad time or being upset or feeling really low. This really confused me because it seemed to coincide with him getting counselling – Laurie, it explains a lot to hear you say that counselling can actually make someone feel worse in the short term!

    I’m trying to look after myself (and seeing a counsellor myself, because this has all hit me so hard); I know there’s very little I can do for him, and I can’t predict the future. I’m trying to draw some hope from knowing he still clearly needs me in some form, and reading the stories of other people whose depressed partners came back after some time on their own to focus on getting help and feeling better. But wow, those people must be a lot tougher than me if they could handle that time apart and this weird limbo state well!

  62. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with depression for so long, and feeling so broken.

    It’s not fair of your partner to say that he might leave you for another woman — of course you feel angry and aloof! His words definitely don’t inspire feelings of love and security in your relationship.

    I encourage you to try counseling one more time, and commit to seeing a therapist for at least six months. I was in counseling for a year, and it was one of the hardest things I ever did — so I totally understand what you mean when you say that counseling drives you further into depression.

    But, you need to go through that in order to come out on the other side. That is, you and your counselor may be exploring painful things that make you feel worse and more depressed…but that, in the long run, will help you heal and be whole again.

    Before you can work on your relationship with your partner, you need to get as emotionally healthy as possible. I encourage you to talk to a therapist or call a depression help line.

    You deserve to be happy, my friend. You deserve to have a healthy, happy relationship with your partner…and YOU have control over whether that happens. I hope you can find the strength and courage to tackle the depression beast one last time…and come out on top!

    Please feel free to come back anytime if you need to talk, Lana. I’d love to hear from you again.


  63. Please help me. I have been dealing with depressive illness since teenagerhood. Now middle aged, on a goodly dose of celexa. My partner of 12 years suffers from anxiety and is unhappy. I know he hurts because of the lack of sex drive and the lack of interest in the relationship, but then says it is not fair that he is the one who has to do all the initiating. I agree that it is not fair, but if he wants sex, why not make a little effort to inspire me? We do not spend time together much anymore because when we do there is arguing. I tend to withdraw and hold things in. He is overly expressive and often sarcastic. He complains a lot, which makes me withdraw more. This is a vicious circle. He cannot see that he contributes to how I feel. He has now started telling me that there are plenty of other women who would have him. Such talk angers me and I become more aloof.
    We have started counseling several times over the years, both together and seperately. Honestly, it has not helped me, but occasionally pushed me further into depression. I do best when left to my own devices, focusing on the requirements of my work and simply going through the motions of daily living. When the emotional stuff comes up, I just cannot cope.
    I feel broken, flawed, permanently damaged. I could go on disability but work really is one of the few things that keeps me alive. I try so hard to just function and strain to be positive enough to accomplish things, I feel I can’t afford to dwell on my misery. I don’t want to talk about it with him. Is that really so wrong of me?

  64. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Cindy,

    I’m glad your partner is seeing a new therapist; it takes time to cope with depression, but he’s on the road to recovery!

    It’s a difficult balance to acheive: being supportive yet honest about wanting the best for his health. You need to be able to be yourself – to be cross with him, for example – and not have constantly worry about hurting his feelings or sending him into a furious tailspin.

    I don’t think you’re thinking negatively; I think you have valid concerns for his health! This is a normal, loving thing, and you’re not doing anything wrong.

    Hopefully, once he gets through the worst of his depression and therapy, your relationship will smoothen out and you’ll both be more comfortable. Until then, hang in there!

    Thinking of you — I hope you’re doing well.


  65. Hi Laurie,

    My partner went to a new therapist last week and he said the session went really well. He had been feeling down all week about the deaths in his family still. I really hope that he can get the help he needs from his therapist to cope with his depression.

    As his partner, I think I need to be more patient with him especially when he is having a bad day and trying to vent his frustration out on me. I have to be more supportive so he knows he can count on me and tell me things.

    We are still having a few problems at home. The weird thing is, they are usually trivial things that we don’t need to argue about and they just escalate to big fights. For example, I was feeling a bit cross with him because we had been playing partners in a card game and lost, and he was (jokingly) blaming me for our losing. He could tell I was upset that his ego and competitiveness made him say things that didn’t need to be said (even in a jovial manner). At supper, he had a slice of cake (his third for the day), I asked him why he was having it and he completely went off the rails and got so upset at me! He thought it was rude that I brought up the fact that he had that much cake in one day eventhough no one heard me say that.

    I realise its not important what my partner looks like or what he weighs. But I want him to be healthy. His family has a history of diabetes and I am so scared he might be heading that same path too. I think my negative thinking is not helping us any. =(

    Thanks for listening Laurie!

  66. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Pat, I just want to say thank you for giving those “things to think about” when trying to decide if leaving a depressed partner is the right thing to do. That’s very helpful and insightful, especially coming from someone who’s actually dealing with it.

    I also like how you said, “If I assume the worst in my partner then I act in a way that is more reactive and less supportive. If I assume the best I am more motivated to see things in a way that is more hopeful and less reactive.”

    This is great relationship and marriage advice — not just for partners coping with depression!

    Thanks for being here, and I hope you and your sweeties are still on the upswing….I hope the Christmas holidays go well!

    Stay in touch,


  67. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for sharing a piece of your life here — I’m sorry to hear that your boyfriend is experiencing so many emotional issues, such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. That’s so difficult for both of you, and for your relationship.

    I want you to remember that breaking up with someone is NOT being heartless person. You cannot stay with your boyfriend out of guilt, a sense of responsibility, or a reluctance to hurt his feelings. You have to stay with him because you’re excited about your lives together, you’re fulfilled and happy, you’re yourself when you’re with him, you feel supported and loved, and you feel free to be your best self possible. Your love relationship should fill you up with life and potential and lightness!

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor about your future with this man. I understand that he’s in a very sad and painful place in his life, and he may need your love and support. But, you may need to balance that with your own needs and plans for the future.

    Sometimes the most difficult thing to do in life is also the most right thing to do.

    I’m not saying that partners or spouses should leave their depressed loved ones. It’s a very complicated, personal, big decision to make — which is why I encourage you to talk to a counselor in person. You don’t want to walk down the same road as your parents, which means you need to take control of your life now.

    Will you call a counselor? Sometimes even just one session is all it takes to help us think clearly and objectively.

    I wish you all the best,

  68. I meant to say that I also think it is too simplistic to say that one should leave a depressed partner if that person is not reaching out, caring, or getting better. I think you have to look at how things usually are in the relationship, whether your partner is making healthy choices and trying, whether you have the strength yourself to hang in there even when your partner isn’t invested, whether the relationship is hurting more than it is helping both parties etc etc

  69. I’d like to thank you for your words of encouragement. The phone has been ringing. My partner contacted me quite a bit during the holiday and the days before and after. Seems he is getting better. When our crisis started this summer I figured things might return to normal around this time. Trusting that he will take care of himself and follow his good conscience (he doesn’t drink, cheat, or lash out), cultivating my life outside the relationship, journaling, and me seeing a therapist have all helped/paid off. I appreciate how my own fears and frustration threaten to complicate matters. If I assume the worst in my partner then I act in a way that is more reactive and less supportive. If I assume the best I am more motivated to see things in a way that is more hopeful and less reactive.

    Keeping a big picture perspective is also helpful. In other words, I may feel my treatment is unfair and some may think it doesn’t make sense to stay in a relationship like this but when I look at the big picture I know it isn’t always or usually like this. That has been very helpful to avoid my own despair, panic, anger, etc. I think a partner needs to patient until he or she decides that they have been patient long enough.

    In response to Lisa. I think this issue falls under the category of knowing when to stay or when to leave. That is a very personal decision and it is no doubt influenced by a variety of factors. A lot of people in their late teens and early twenties are still trying to establish an identity for themselves and that can make it harder to commit to someone else. I also think people need to ask themselves if their presence in the relationship is helping or hurting, or making a difference. Maybe a temporary stop out is needed? It is hard to say. Only you can figure that out but I think it is too simplistic to conclude that one is heartless because they need to leave a relationship for whatever reason just as it is too simplistic to say that one should stand by their partner no matter what. I am not surprised that writing helps. I think journaling and confiding in a trusted, wise, or experienced friend (hopefully more than one) or therapist is also helpful. For whatever its worth I hope that helps somewhat.

  70. hi everyone.

    In a desperate attempt to seek solace from what I’m experiencing right now, I managed to come across this page. I’ve read a few of comments in this page, and like some, it makes me feel so much better that there are others, who are experiencing more or less the same thing as me, whom I can share my story with and yet, not receive biased opinions as opposed to telling my friends.

    I’m 19 years old this year, and my boyfriend’s 26 years old. Yes, our ages are pretty far apart- 7 years in fact. We’ve been together for 3 years now, and way before he met me, he suffered from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from helping an accident victim, but after a year, he coped better. In the first 2 years with me, he rarely suffered any relapses, except for those on the anniversary date itself. but as I recall, they were never as bad as the relapses he’s been experiencing most recently.

    During his period of recovery, his psychiatrist had encouraged him to write a blog about the accident, and other major incidents he had in the past. This helped him greatly. However, recently, a few weeks before the anniversary date, he received a spam email, where in the subject, was the date of the accident, the time and a phrase “3 months on..” Ever since this spam email, he suffered a major relapse, panic attacks in the middle of the night or day and so on..He keeps thinking that his death is near, and every little thing that happens, he’ll link it as a sign of death.and this causes him to have a whole lot of anxiety attacks.. and it’s making him depressed, that he can’t stop worrying and that he really feels his death is coming soon..This has been going on for 3 to 4 months now..

    When he first had all his anxiety attacks, he used to call me, in the middle of the night while i was sleeping, or in the day, because he felt that talking to me could make him feel better. His family weren’t the understanding sort, whereas I could understand his situation much more as my father himself has some psychological disorders to, which i could relate.. However, as time goes on, and he starts to really give up on himself& everyone around him, I believe he’s fallen into depression and has been withdrawing from the rest, staying in his room everytime he’s at home.He doesn’t talk or find for me now too, and it’s really222 frustrating because firstly, I want to help but I can’t and secondly, as much as I hate to say it, my selfish thoughts start popping up and I’m starting to think- why can’t my relationship be normal like the rest of my friends?

    You see, I’m 19years old, and I’m not married. What I’m experiencing now is exactly what my mom experiences when my dad isn’t himself after he gets his fits (he has epilepsy and everytime he gets his epileptic fits, he won’t be himself and may even be aggressive at times) My mom is the sole breadwinner of the family, while my dad is unemployed. It’s really sad to see that my mother has to bear so much responsibility all alone, and I really would hate to become like her. But it seems like if my boyfriend doesn’t get any better, I will end up like her. And since I’m not married, it’s not too late and I can still leave now right? But, no, that would just really make me a heartless person, because I know that he isn’t doing this on purpose and that he can’t help it. It just makes me feel so stuck. He’s seeing a psychiatrist soon, but personally, I’m not keen on it because firstly, he’s still young and he can’t start relying on medicine to get better and secondly, I’m worried that these meds would make him so numb and make him less alert to things around him. Like my dad, he isn’t as fluent as he can be after being on medication all this while, and I don’t want my boyfriend to end up like that. He’s such a smart & witty young man. :(

    Although not many would read this,or perhaps, I don’t receive any reply, I feel so much better typing all this out. I really hope someone could suggest to me what to do, because I really am in a huge dilemma right now- stuck between thinking for myself and thinking for him, whom I love a whole lot.

  71. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Pat. I was fascinated that you said you “take up more space in our relationship” — that’s such a self-aware, insightful thing to know about yourself!

    I think it’s great that you wait for him to come to you, without pushing him to talk about depression or his feelings. It takes patience, but it’s probably the most loving thing you can do (after making sure he has resources for overcoming depression, of course).

    I hope your phone rings, that he reaches out and comes back to you…

    All the best,

  72. I find that getting a loved one to open up is risky. As I mentioned before we live apart so I am accustomed to talking on the phone regularly but since this episode started with him 5 months ago we now average phone contact (text usually) about once a week and I am grateful for that. Texting has been a way for us to use humor and to invite involvement without awkward silences or putting a foot in ones mouth. It forces us to be succinct and light in our interactions. I don’t think texting is a good way to get heavy or go deep. I can leave quick little message to just put my support out there and let my partner know that I am thinking about him. Sometimes I get a text back (or a call) and sometimes I don’t. Things have been improving but it seems to go up a bit and then down a bit. I get a sudden initiation for involvement to be followed by a few days of silence. I sometimes fear that this is the way my relationship will be from now on. I know I could reach out more but I am waiting a few more months before I do that. I think partners have to look at their own dynamics in a relationship. I already know that I tend to take up more space in our relationship and that I am rather extroverted. I am quick to express things and sometimes I talk before I think. My partner is more introverted and takes time to express himself. The depression only makes it harder for him. So the best solution is for me to focus on myself and to be available and wait for him to reach out (knowing that it might not happen for a very long time). This seems to work for us. If I keep calling or I try to get him to talk about difficult things it makes the dynamic feel like its more about me and what I need right now. It’s not that my needs are not important its just that now isn’t the time to push. I feel like if I take care of my self and give the space needed he will come around and so far he has in limited ways that tell me his trying. I also think it is important for a couple to see if they can enjoy a moment together without necessarily “talking about” things….especially difficult things. I tried doing that prematurely and he broke down sobbing and couldn’t explain anything to me. I felt frustrated and horrible. So I think good moments, light communication, and self care are in order until one’s partner is strong enough to “come back” so to speak. Sometimes it seems he is back to his old self but then he distances again. We have been together for almost 8 years so I figure I can give this at least a year to recover. I remain hopeful and I am glad that we can still have moments. Somedays I feel negative but I try to be strong and wait for a good situation between us to turn it around again. I have respect for those who are living under the same roof and being witness to the irritabiliy and distance on a regular basis. For me it doesn’t seem so bad if I don’t have to see it all the time. It’s just the phone that doesn’t ring….that is the part I struggle with the most.

  73. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Cindy,

    Is your fiance getting help for his depression? If his feelings are affecting his work and relationships, then he needs to seek treatment from a psychologist, doctor, or counselor.

    And, are there any depression support groups in your area? That can be helpful for both you and him. Making in-person connections with other people with depressed partners can help you cope with your fiance’s moods and thought patterns. And, if he joins a support group or meets other men who are depressed, he’ll see that he’s not alone or “wierd.”

    Regarding your relationship with him…I’m not sure you should try to get him to open up. I suggest you talk to a counselor, either as a couple or individually. If you go overboard in encouraging him to open up, he may run in the other direction (closed, uncommunicative, fearful of sharing emotions). So, I’d suggest telling him once that you’re there to talk whenever he wants, and let him come to you when he’s ready.

    Your fiance may want to keep his depression away from you because he might see it as a sign of weakness. It can be difficult for men to ask for help or admit frailty — as you mentioned. It can be especially difficult to for a man to ask a woman he loves for help and support. That said, if he keeps withholding his feelings, it will negatively affect your relationship and marriage.

    Different ways of approaching depression work for different couples — and that’s why an in-person counselor is so helpful. There are dynamics in your relationships and individual personalities that may affect how you “should” cope with his depression. So, I strongly suggest talking to a professional in person.

    I hope this helps a little — and I’m sorry I don’t have any easy answers! I think the trick is finding ways to help him without him feeling needy or weak. That could involve focusing his attention on the fact that it takes strength and courage for people to admit they need help.

    I wish you all the best, and hope you and he find the help you need.


  74. Hi Laurie,

    I am living with a depressed man, my fiance. He has communication issues when he is depressed, and he says he hates telling me bad news. For example, last week there was a death in the family and he did not tell me until he was so depressed he couldn’t work for a few days. It almost jeopardised his livelihood.

    I love my fiance very much and want him to have the quality of life that I enjoy. I feel he wants to keep his depression away from me.

    How do I show him that I support him and love him and will help him through difficult times? I can’t get him to open up. Am I right in thinking it might be just male ego and he doesn’t want to let people know that he needs help?

  75. Dear Laurie,

    Thanks for the advice. I am trying to set down the burden, but can’t help but feel enormous concern. I will do as you say, and leave him alone, as I don’t think I’m helping him by trying to force contact.

    I am so very impressed at how many people on this site are living with a partner with depression and doing it with such grace. It must be incredibly difficult to be married to / or living with someone who is depressed. I have only had a short experience with it and think depression is a silent robber of life. It is very hard to stand by and watch someone suffer, but I’m sure it’s even worse when you’re you’re the one with it.

    I send everyone my best wishes.


  76. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Emma,

    That’s great that your boyfriend is seeing a psychologist — and that you’re setting different types of goals! You’re right: there are alot of challenges ahead…but sometimes the hardest part is getting help for depression. Once the ball is in motion (counseling, antidepressants, support groups, reading books about depression, etc) — then things often fall into place.

    I encourage you to talk to a counselor. You may just need one little “tune up” session, just to get some objective feedback on your boyfriend’s depression and how you’re managing it. And, the counselor might help you learn how to take care of yourself and set boundaries — very important when you’re living with someone with depression.

    Stay in touch — you’re always welcome to comment or ask questions…


  77. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Elle,

    I’m afraid I don’t have great news for you! I don’t think there’s much you can do to help your ex-boyfriend, who is depressed. It’s SO difficult to help our loved ones even when we’re living in the same home or married…but helping someone who doesn’t respond to letters or phone calls is very difficult.

    That said, there are a few things you can do. For instance, you could make sure he’s aware of the depression support groups or therapists in his area. And, you could send him a book on coping with depression — perhaps one written from a man’s point of view. In that book, you could stick a short note saying you’d be happy to support him in getting healthy again.

    Regarding your feelings of angst, pain, sadness…that’s totally understandable, after being with him and coming out of a past relationship. I suggest that you give yourself a few months reprieve to heal. Set down this burden of helping him. Focus on healing from your past relationship, and on finding your own closure with this relationship.

    I hope this helps a little, and welcome your further thoughts! Another thing to consider is seeing a counselor for a session or two, to make sure you’re dealing with everything properly. It can’t hurt…

    Best wishes,

  78. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Vicki,

    I have to admit that your comment about your partner’s not helping around the house made me smile! Is it depression on his part, or is it just being a man? :-) Seriously, many husbands or partners take housekeeping less seriously than women. My husband will do housework if I point it out — but he doesn’t seem to see that the things that need to be cleaned on his own.

    But, doing what your partner asks (eg, a load of laundry) is part of love and respect….and even depressed people need to take care of certain responsibilities!

    In my other article about depression, I discuss enabling and not taking over all the responsibilities at home. Here’s the link to that article:

    When Your Partner is Depressed

    Also, a friend of mine was depressed for three years — and she said it took over a year to “claw her way out.” I don’t mean to be negative, but just want to encourage you to remember that it takes T I M E … so much time…to heal. Especially if antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy are involved — it’s a huge change for body and mind!

    My, I’ve gone on too long…Elle and Emma, I’ve read your comments and will respond tomorrow. Hang in there!


  79. Hi, I haven’t read all of the posted comments, but I have gotten as far as Laurie encouraging readers to comment… so hear I go.

    My bf and I have been together for many years and live together. He suffers from depression and OCD. For the first few years of our relationship, he kept alot of his mental health issues to himself(i think b/c he didn’t want to “bother” me). In addition he also has physical ailments that effect his mental health. Although he has been able to get by without effectively addressing these issues, they have only gotten progressively worse. furthermore, the job market and economy has triggered a new peak in his depression.

    About a month ago, we had a small “intervention.” I don’t know why this day was different than any other days, but I couldn’t take it anymore, life felt like i was riding his rollercoaster. He was often sitting stone faced infront of the TV and growing more distant. That was a very hard week for me, but it was necessary and from that day on things have changed.

    My bf acknowledges that he is sick. Although he has been on medication for while he hadn’t followed it up with therapy. The first thing he did after our “intervention,” was meet with a psychologist. He has gone every week since.

    We have started to make short term goals and long term goals for ourselves, including career goals, financial planning, and the obvious marriage. However, we have alot of challenges ahead.

    This blog has been very insighful for me. I feel very alone in all of this, however after reading comments i see that i’m not. So thank you for that. I am considering going to therapy myself, i figure it can’t hurt. I want to be more understanding and less judgmental. Moreover, i want to make things better for both of us.

    Thank you.

  80. Hi All,

    I met a wonderful man 7 months ago, and we fell head over heels in a very short period of time. It wasn’t long before I discovered he suffers from anxiety and depression. His anxiety grew more intense every day he had to go to work. He would dread each morning coming and over the weekends,he would spend his time counting the weekend down.. only one more day and then I have to go back to work.. only 12 hours etc. His anxiety reached a fever pitch not long after we met and he decided to leave his job. He’s got healthy savings and could support himself for a year or more, without needing to work. That was in May and is still unemployed. He wants to break into the movie industry, but it’s incredibly difficult and he’s not even sure what he’d like to do on set. So he is lost at the moment and sensitive to people who keep asking him whether he has a job or not.

    He was on medication, but shortly came off it after he left work, as he then went into a period of euphoria after giving up his job. He was also in counseling, but left that as well, as he didn’t like his therapist and felt he wasn’t helping him.

    I have suffered periods of depression, but mostly in my teens, so I do understand what it’s like to be in a really dark place, but it’s an old memory rather than a recent feeling. So I have a level of empathy, but I also have my own needs and insecurities, which seemed to surface really quickly in this relationship. It resulted in us fighting a lot. He would shut down and retreat, and wouldn’t speak to me for days, I would be desperately trying to make contact and get him to talk to me so we could discuss what had happened. This avoidant behaviour was the most frustrating and difficult aspect for me to handle. Being shut out is worrying and frustrating and it made me angry. Unfortunately, he would retreat and go silent, if he was in the wrong, and the same would be true if I was in the wrong. So there was a lot of silence in this relationship.

    Also he wouldn’t like calling on the phone. He was happy to text but not to talk. This would also lead to more arguments as written messages would be misconstrued. It was really quite exhausting.

    After another silly spat two weeks ago, he cancelled the entire night’s plans, and told me not to call him. I was so upset and angry that yet another evening had resulted in him going into silent retreat. The following day, we ended up having another fight (via text!) and it resulted in us breaking up. I ultimately ended it. I was just upset and angry at having my needs, i.e. meeting up to talk were ignored.

    That was two weeks ago. There has been no contact from him, other than to respond in anger to a text I sent him. I have tried calling him, but he won’t answer the phone.

    My friends and family, said it was a lucky escape, but I don’t feel lucky at all. I feel nothing but sadness and guilt. I am completely in love with this man, and he has a very poor social network and he doesn’t speak to his family (for the past 4 years). So he is very much alone. He has said he’s so worried about his depression, that he doesn’t know where it’s going to end and that terrifies me. Now that I am his ‘ex’, I don’t know how to help him – I didn’t know how to help him when I was his girlfriend either. I have written long letters to him, but he hasn’t responded to any of them. And I am very worried.

    Part of my need to reconnect with him, is for my own selfish needs if I’m honest. I have come out of a relationship, I didn’t want to come out of, and I did it in anger. But I also just feel his pain and I know how lonely he is. Coupled to that he drinks heavily and it just makes him worse.

    I’m so grateful that this site is here and I just wanted to ask some advice on how to handle this situation. I want him to know that I am here for him, and that he isn’t alone, but now that I have hurt him and am his ‘ex’ I know I’m probably the last person he’d lean on. The only thing I have thought of, is keeping my Instant Messenger open and showing him I’m online (he blocked me for a few days, but has now unblocked me so I can see when he’s online). I thought at least if he could see i was there, but not contacting him, I could give him space, but at the same time let him know I’m around.

    I am turning myself inside out and feel like everything I do is wrong. So if anyone has any advice on how I could handle this situation, I would be eternally grateful.



  81. Hi All

    My partner is coping at the moment, is still on the meds and is going back to his doctor for more councelling. He went back to work in October but has been signed off again as he doesn’t feel right. I think I’m coping pretty well, and he seems to be more like he used to be, but is still getting his down days. All I am finding hard at the moment is that as we live together, he seems to do nothing around the house to help me out. This sounds selfish, but when I reminded him that life continues around him he had a go at me… Is it just me feeling put out? I ask him to do some housework during the day (bear in mind I am working Monday-Friday 9-5) and I get home at 6pm to find he’s done nothing… When I ask him about this he then accuses me of not being supportive!
    Anyone else get this?

    Vix x

  82. This was helpful to read about your partner’s depression. My wife has been depressed for about 3 years now, and some days are better than others. It takes a long time to overcome depression for some people even if you do have the right help. Good to know there’s articles like this out there, thank you.

  83. Hi Laurie, thanks for your reply. Yes I do think it’s best that I put off making any major decisions until he goes to the counsellor as I can see that he really isn’t himself at the moment. He says he is definitely going to go but seems to be dragging his heels a bit about making the appointment and this is causing me a lot of frustration. I’m really trying to be patient but it’s so hard to see him like this, his thought processes are quite irrational and can be extremely negative but he just can’t see this at the moment.

    Also he seems to be only able to do one thing at a time and can’t even make a phone call until that one thing gets done. I know depression can really affect concentration and this is very obvious with him. I don’t want to be nagging him but his memory has really been affected as well and he’s actually asked me to remind him about things including the counseling appointment. I just think the sooner someone objective like a counsellor can challenge his way of thinking the better he may get.

    I wish he would read a book about depression with me but he still won’t acknowledge that he has it. It’s really strange, his way of talking about it is to talk about other people with depression and then he’ll throw something about himself into the conversation. I just let him talk and listen to him now when he wants to because previously when I mentioned that I thought he had depression he got extremely defensive. It’s a really tricky situation but my own counselor has helped me a lot in dealing with this. I’m really trying to educate myself about it though so that I can be more understanding and supportive. I’ve read a lot of books and online sites about the subject and this website and others have been really useful to see that I’m not alone in the situation. It’s so valuable to have this resource when friends and family just don’t understand. I don’t think people really can unless they’ve been closely touched by it themselves, I suppose that can be said about of lot of things. Until this happened I really didn’t have a clue about the effects of depression on relationships, I think this is particularly true when the depressed partner/spouse is in denial about the illness. I think the sooner more people become aware of the signs and symptoms the better, it could prevent a lot of anguish and heartache.

    Best wishes,

  84. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Paula,

    What a shock, that your partner suddenly had his change of heart about your relationship! So sorry — that must be confusing and heartbreaking. Depression affects so many people, not just the person who is depressed.

    I’m glad you’re in counseling and going to a support group.

    Maybe you could put off making a decision about moving out until he’s had a few sessions with his counselor? I totally understand about wanting to give him space — and you need to distance yourself from becoming too needed, too overwhelmed with his depression and life.

    What a tough situation — I can see how he’d be reluctant to take antidepressants or seek therapy for depression, because of his family’s experience. It might be helpful to read books about depression together, the two of you, and learn that it’s not a reflection of who you are as a man or woman. It’s often a chemical imbalance — something you have no control over, like any illness.

    The more both of you learn about the causes and treatments of depression, the less stigma it’ll have. So, I suggest learning together, and seeing a counselor together a few times.

    I hope this helps a little, and I welcome you back to share updates! I hope your partner’s sessions with the counselor go well…..and I encourage you to learn about depression with him.

    Best wishes,

  85. Hi,

    I just found this site today and am in a very similar situation to Vicki & Julie. Wondering how things are going now for you both? Hope things have improved. I’ve been living with my partner for over 5 years, we had a very trusting and loving relationship until a few months ago (very suddenly) he said he thought we should split up. At the time he became extremely distraught, said he felt suicidal, that he loved me more than anyone but that he was making my life a misery (not true at all), that all relationships end up bad anyway and he felt so guilty for dragging me down with him. I now know that he was going through some kind of nervous breakdown but at the time I didn’t know what was going on. I’ve also learnt since that the same thing happened with him in his late teens ever before we met. He had a very troubled childhood and has no contact with either parent so it’s been very hard for me to try and get any extra support for him. I told his sister how worried I was but I think she’s so caught up in her own problems that she’s not really capable of acknowledging what’s going on with my partner. Also, I only found out since this happened that a number of his immediate family members have been diagnosed with depression down through the years.

    In spite of (or perhaps because of) all this he’s been extremely reluctant to admit that he has depression. This has made the situation so much worse but I don’t blame him for it either although it caused me to take things very personally. I’ve been going to a counsellor and support group and this has really helped me to get things clear in my own head. My family and friends have no understanding of depression, it seems to be a real stigma where I’m from, as a result of this I’ve felt very isolated, you’re very lucky to have someone around you who understands.

    My partner never received any outside help or treatment the last time this happened. I can see now that he’s probably been struggling with depression for a long time but because he does shift work and this interferes with his sleeping habits I was putting a lot of his behaviour down to lack of sleep. I think he felt ashamed or something to talk to me about what he’d been through before.

    I’ve really been stuggling to get my head around everything but I love him and want him to feel better. I suggested moving out to give him space but this seemed to really panic him and he begged me not to saying he knows he would feel much worse if I wasn’t around. On the one hand I wonder if I’m doing the right thing by staying but on the other hand he seems to need and be comforted by my support and just being here. He’s going to start going to a counsellor this week, so far he’s been reluctant to see a GP, I think it’s because he’s seen family members on & off medication and it seems to have affected him negatively.

    I’m so glad to have found this website and welcome any advice.


  86. Trying to figure out how to be supportive when it seems your partner doesn’t even want to interact with you is probably the most difficult part of this situation. When my partner said he felt distant from me and almost split up with me it tapped into one of my worst fears. I’ve been coping by looking at the big picture and assuming this will pass. I know I could easily make it worse by being defensive, rejecting, or threatening to leave. The problem is further complicated by the fact that nobody can really tell a couple how much time they should be interacting with one another. It is different for everyone. But I know that this isn’t our norm. We used to talk every night and now it is once a week. I am trying very hard to give space and let him be the one to initiate contact only because in the past I tended to be the partner that wanted to cling more or demand more. So depression aside I think each couple has to look at their own dynamics. Interestingly enough I found that after we took a time out for 2 weeks things were really good for a while and then he started to sink again. I am finding that letting him sort through his stuff while I learn how to take care of myself and enjoy my solitude is helping. Of course I get insecure from time and time and say “this is NOT a relationship” and “I don’t deserve this” but I try to steer away from such thinking because relationships and people change over time so again I look at the big picture and I know this isn’t the norm and as long as that is the case I assume we will be back on track. I am just grateful to see him trying.

  87. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Amanda,

    What a tough situation, especially since you’re in a long distance relationship. It’s great that you’re learning about depression and relationships — the more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be!

    I have a few suggestions. One is to ask your boyfriend the exact question you’ve asked here: how can you be supportive of him and leave him alone at the same time? He might be able to help you help him. Be specific: should you wait for him to contact you? Should you text him three times a day? Should you contact him when you feel like it?

    Also, you could ask your boyfriend what his therapist thinks about him being in a relationship right now. I don’t know what he needs; maybe he himself doesn’t know what he needs. His therapist may not have any answers, but it might be worth exploring.

    Finally, I suggest talking to a counselor who specializes in depression, or find a support group for people whose loved ones are depressed. You’ll learn more than you think from people who are in that particular battlefield!

    I hope this helps a little — and I welcome you back anytime! I’d love to hear how things are going.

    Take care,

  88. Hi All,

    I’v been reading your posts and find the information useful, but I’m a bit more detail oriented and have a concern/question. My boyfriend told me a week ago he’s been seeing a therapist and has been diagnosed with depression; when I asked what’s being done, he stated therapy and meds (I didn’t want to get too questioning about the specifics). Either way, we have only been together about 2 months, but I have known him for over 15 years, and we reconnected as friends about 3 1/2 years ago. I state all of this because while the relationship is short, he’s not a stranger. Anyway, I don’t know how long he’s been in therapy for the depression, but he said it started when he was in Iraq (to which he’s been back in the states for about 3 months). However, his personality has taken a complete nose dive in the past 3 weeks. He went from being extremely lively and communicative, to very distant and absent…his exact description of how he feels is ’empty’ ‘hopeless & alone’ and he wishes everybody would leave him alone. Fair enough, as this appears to be very common. However, for me, the problem with this is we are in a long distance relationship to where phone calls and texts are our life-line. I’ve been through enough myself to understand that sometimes people go through periods where they want to be left alone. However, I’m not sure how to be supportive of him and leave him alone at the same time. I understand the long-distance nature of this is complicated in itself and this definately is not making it easier. But as I’ve said, I’ve known him for a long time, and he was there for me during a low part in my life and I want to do the same for him, I’m just not quite sure how, and I find I’m becoming more angry and frustrated with him shutting me out. I don’t know much about depression and am trying to learn as much as I can to understand it, I just thought I would throw this out there for any thoughts or ideas or experiences anybody reading this page might have. Thanks!

  89. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for talking about your experience with your partner’s depression. It’s helpful to know what works and what doesn’t — and it’s important to recognize that what works for one couple won’t work for another. I’m glad you’re talking to a therapist; that might help with things like not taking his behavior personally and working through your own insecurities.

    I imagine that living apart makes a huge difference! That space and time apart can be helpful in coping with a partner’s depression, but again it’s different for all couples.

    I hope you and he get through this second upheaval successfully.

    Best wishes,

  90. I have a depressed partner. In our almost 8 years together this is our second upheaval. When he is not having a crisis our relationship seems almost a thing to envy as we are so close and compatible. But when he has a breakdown it becomes a nightmare for me. Not taking it personal has been the hardest thing for me. I see a lot of things that make me feel left out but I feel I cannot talk about that with him. I can only appreciate the parts I get. I have to be careful with what I bring up. Any touchy question or observation seems to lead to shame, defensiveness, or a crying jag. Sometimes I feel like I almost have to be perfect or pretend things don’t bother me. I have to work out my insecurities on my own and with my therapist because he isn’t in the strongest frame of mind to reassure me or tell me what is going on. I have journaled pages and pages worth of material to keep my thoughts positive.

    Giving space and not reacting to the distance has been difficult but very necessary right now. I keep looking at the big picture. We’ve beat this before and I feel it’s worth seeing it through. Forcing ones way into a depressed partner’s world has been suggested but I find that in my situation the space is better particularly since I don’t want to get my own insecurities and hurt mixed up in all of his stuff. Furthermore a seperate identity for him is a critical theme that has remerged albeit with less intensity this time. Living apart makes it easier.

  91. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    I’m sorry for this — it sounds very frightening for both your wife and you. And her mum!

    I hope you and your consultant can figure out the best way to make sure your wife takes the amount of medication that she needs. It sounds like your wife wants to live and overcome her depression, though. It’s a good sign that she called her mom.

    Hang in there…I’m sure things will get better, especially if you can get the consultant’s advice.

    Best wishes,

  92. an update from me…. 7 weeks ago my wifes medication was changed because the old one had bassically stopped working and my wife had been getting suicidel thoughts, at 1st things seemed to be going in the right direction, however last wednesday i got the phone call from hell from my brother in law, saying that a ambulace was on its way to my house because my wife had taken an overdose, i had been holding her medication to try prevent this but unknown to me she had got a new lot from pharmacy[ a months supply] and she`d taken the lot, yhen panic`d and rang her mum. as it turned out she could have taken any number of these tablets and would`nt killed her. they have again changed her medication and are waiting to see consultant about the next step, im really scared off loosing her, doing my best to keep what happened from the kids, but think the eldest knows what happened.ive asked the gp if her medication can be made out to me, but this is not possible

  93. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your update, Michelle…it sounds like things are moving forward for you, which is great. You WILL find what works to help with your husband’s depression. It just takes time, dedication, and faith.

    Good luck, and I hope it all works out sooner rather than later!


  94. Checked back in for a sec. Was in such a real rush earlier. All the best to everyone. Appreciate everyones help in the past. Counseling for the partner/spouse of a depressed person really does help. Sending warm thoughts, Michelle

  95. Hi Laurie & everyone else! I haven’t been on site in quite a while & haven’t read comments. Too much going on so can only focus on my life. I just wanted to let you know that my husband’s symptoms changed as soon as he got off Buproprion SR (twice a day formulation of generic Wellbutrin). He had previously been on Buproprion XL but had been off of it since April. He was put back on Buproprion on June 30 (after going off Prosac for 4 days on his own and not adding anything other than alcohol). 2 weeks later when symptoms hadn’t improved (there were a lot of factors), he was put on Buprooprion SR with hope that it would make things better but the change in formulation it appears per pharmacists made things worse. It can in some people. Some are better with once a day and some with twice. His depression got much worse, he experienced some panic attacks and episodes of confusion. It was hard to figure out bec he has diabetes and works in a hot environment so the thought was that episdoes of confusion had to do with drop in blood sugar, heat exhaustion or dehydration but it was the med. Cognitive issues are being explored but we know they are not knew. This all required being on medical leave 3 1/2 weeks because employer was unable to depend on him with episodes surfacing out of the blue. I hope this makes a bit of sense. In real rush but Laurie I happened to see your e-address in my address book next to another Laurie and thought I should let you and others know that sometimes a chance in FORMULATION (once a day to twice or vice versa), change in manufacturer of generic drug or just being off the med and going back on months later could do it. Thanks for all your support in past. Individual counseling is really making a difference! Lots of emotional work needed to help me deal with my husbands PTSD. Warmest wishes, thoughts & prayers, Michelle

  96. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    Thanks for being so honest — it’s very good that you can be real about how you feel, no matter how it sounds!

    I suggest you start focusing on how to build a healthy, happy life for you and your child. Start doing things that make you feel refreshed, alive, and rejuvenated. Stop focusing on your partner’s depression, and start focusing on living your own fulfilled life.

    Not only will this make you feel better, it’ll bring a sense of joy and vitality to your home — and to your child.

    Stop waiting in limbo, and start living! Go to music or yoga classes with your kid (in Canada, we have Mommy and Me Yoga and Kindermusic). Spend the whole afternoon with your friends and their kids. Take a road trip for the day — I don’t know what you and your child love to do, but I suggest you be deliberate about making time for yourself and a happy life.

    I hope your partner gets over his depression soon. In the meantime, take care of yourself!

    Best wishes,

  97. I feel the same way Libby does. I’m so confused. I’m angry! My partner and I have been together for 2 years. Everythng was going well until a couple of weeks ago. We have a child together. I am mentally “tired.” Everything I am reading is towards helping him heal. What about me??!! Our child??!! I don’t know what to say to him anymore. I am so tired of just being out there in “limbo!” I know this sounds badd but its how I feel.

  98. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Giving individual or even couples counseling a try when one partner has depression is a noble, hopeful, loving, and faithful thing to do! John, I’m glad you’re willing to wait to see a counselor, and I really hope it helps.

    Libby, I encourage you to find a support group or friends who understand — one of the best ways to deal with anything in marriage, relationships, or life in general is to connect with people. I know it’s commonsense — but it’s commonsense because it’s TRUE, and it works! Feeling alone makes it harder to cope with a partner who is depressed….and repressed anger can turn into depression itself.

    Also, taking control and empowering yourself is a great way to deal with bad situations in life. Figuring out ways to take your power back can be helpful — and that includes setting up your life the way you want it, depressed partner or not.

    I’m sorry there aren’t any easy answers!

    Best wishes,

  99. hi libby, don`t know if you have read my posts or not, my wife has had depression for 14 years, and know what your saying is TRUE, I share the same feelings of anger etc, we are not alone tho, but yes sometimes peoples help and advice does`nt help, but at least their trying to show we are not alone, im currently waiting to see a councellor, this may or may not help???but im going to give them the wife seems at the moment to be shutting me out of her life? when im trying to help. best wishes. john


  101. Hi Vicki and Laurie,

    Thank you so much for responding! This site really has helped me to regain my strength and sense of self. I was beating myself up wondering what I had done wrong and how a happy/healthy/loving 4 year relationship slipped away in the matter of days. Thank you so much for explaining to me that I MUST not take anything he says personally. Not to mention, he is up, he is down, he is all over the map…. nothing seems to make any sense! My fiance has NEVER EVER spoken to me the way he has in the past couple of weeks, it’s been so hard not to internalize what he has said and done. Again, thank you for responding…..It really helps to know that someone else understands what an awful situation this really is. Vicki, I’m so glad things are turning around for you and your boyfriend, it gives me hope! Keep me posted :)

    My fiance called me this morning and was feeling awful, he told me that he would hate for me to “wait” for him because he knows that he is never going to get through this. He told me that he was going to stop going to therapy and taking his meds because neither of them are helping. He also told me AGAIN that just being in a relationship makes him feel guilty and that he hates what he is doing to me, it makes him feel horrible for dragging me through the mud, therefore, we should break up (He doesn’t argue when I say no, he just accepts it and moves on!) I continuously tell him that I am not going anywhere, I refuse to give up on him even if it means that I must sit and wait until he is ready. I tell him not to worry about me and that I will be here for him when he needs me but I am still giving him all the space he needs, I told him to call when he feels as though he is ready to chat, vent, laugh, whatever he needs. Yet, he still calls me almost everyday for no apparent reason! He still maintains that seeing me and even calling me is just too hard for him because he knows that he is unable to give me what I deserve… does this sound like an excuse to anyone or is this characteristic of a depressed individual? This is the second time he has called and confessed all of this to me. Both times he has called it seems as though he was in a full blown panic attack about something going on at the moment or about to happen (today he was panicking about the thought of getting on an airplane this weekend). I sometimes struggle with the idea that maybe he really doesn’t want to be with me. He tells me that he still loves me and that he wants to be with me but it’s pointless because he’s sick and not getting better. I just can’t imagine that from one week to the next were planning our wedding and then he’s trying to break up with me. it just doesn’t make sense? Am I oblivious to whats happening? or do you think that this could be him looking for some sort of re-assurance from me? Please help!

    In the meantime I am trying to maintain positive by looking taking this time to find the person I used to be before this all happened, I am partaking dance classes and have even booked a trip with my girl friends. I am taking this opportunity to strengthen myself, with all of this going on I realized that throughout this relationship I may have become too emotionally dependent on my fiance. I see this is as a second chance to regain my independence and work toward a strong everlasting relationship.

    Does anyone have any suggestions as to what else I should be doing at this point?

    Thank you again SOOOO MUCH!

  102. Hi guys

    Thought I’d update you on what’s going on with my partner and me…
    Well, I lived at the flat for 3 weeks while he stayed at his parents house. We kept in contact by texting (as sometimes it’s easier to think of an answer over time rather than having to come up with an answer quickly on the phone) and we did talk every few days. I let him text me first, as I didn’t want to appear as being pushy. Not going into detail with what happened, just general conversation. I stayed at my parents a few times during these weeks so that he could stay at the flat around his things, and it meant I had company as well (which is always a good thing). Then we went out on a ‘date’ and had a bit of a chat – again, I didn’t push him to talk about everything as I feel it’s still too soon. Anyway, I met up with my partner at a mutual friends house, and he admitted he missed me terribly and wanted to come back home. It’s been a week now, and things seem to be returning back to normal, although I am taking this a day at a time, and because it’s still quite fresh, my partner doesn’t seem to want to talk about what he’s going through. He is going to councilling once a week and has also started a meditation type class. It’s been tough, and I can still see it being tough as I try to get back to normal myself. I have advised my partner that if he needs space, all he needs to do is ask and I’ll go to stay at my parents or round friends houses for a few days to give him that space.

    To Julie – your going through exactly the same as me (don’t know if you read any of my earlier posts). I think the best thing you can do for your boyfriend at this stage is give him the space he needs, and tell him that you are there for him, no matter what. As with my boyfriend, he took a good few weeks to come round from his breakdown. He still won’t open up to me about it, but we are back to talking and being a couple again. I can only hope for you that your boyfriend realises how much he misses you and see’s sense in at least that part of his issues. It’s going to be a long road in terms of him understanding his own issues and trying to overcome them, but remember not to put yourself down and make sure you keep yourself busy if you’re currently not living together. Maybe spending time apart will make your partner understand how much he does miss you. Take it a day at a time at the moment. I was thinking over and over if there was anything I could have done to prevent my boyfriend having his breakdown, but there is nothing I could have even prepared for in this situation. The problems are his, unfortunatly at this point in time nothing you say will solve them. Don’t blame yourself for this – there is no right or wrong way to act to cope with what you’re going through as well. When my partner had his breakdown I was signed off work for a week to try to understand and cope with what had happened. I spent half the week crying. However, family and also friends helped me through the worst, and my dad advised me to make sure I was ok, as when something like this happens people do tend to forget about you when it’s your partner who has had the actual breakdown. Even though you feel like s**t, just make sure you take time out for yourself and take it steady.
    Hope this helps, take care
    Vix x

  103. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Julie,

    I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend’s depression and how it’s affecting your relationship. That’s such a difficult place to be, so painful for you both.

    I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong, but I do wonder if you should let him go. Not permanently — just to give him enough headspace and heart space to figure out the best way to handle his depression. Sometimes depression is so overwhelming, people just can’t cope with other aspects of life…especially the thought of something as big as a wedding.

    It’s great that you’re giving him space, and that he can call when he’s ready. It’s also great that you’re trying not to take this personally — because his depression and how he’s trying to cope with it isn’t about you. He’s doing the best he can to make his life manageable, or even just liveable.

    I hope you can forgive yourself for whatever you feel guilty for. You were reacting in the best way you knew how! You didn’t know what was going on, and you were trying to connect with him.

    Is he getting help for his depression? Also, you might consider talking to a counselor, and getting professional advice on how to manage your own feelings of guilt and pain.

    I wish I had a magic solution for you, but I don’t! But I do think you should stay hopeful for the future. Once he works through his depression and gets the best treatment, he might be back to his old self and ready to move forward with you. This may just be a bad blip in your relationship — and all relationships have them!

    Best of luck, and do come back anytime.


  104. Hello,I don’t know where to start. My fiance has had an incredibly hard year. His brother suddenly passed away a year ago, his father drinks heavily, he has also undergone surgery (which has kept him from being physically active all summer long), he can’t sleept at night, and he has nothing to do but think all day long. To make matters worse he bottles everything up. Needless to say, he has finally broken down. He has been taking medication for over a month and is now seeing a therapist regularly.
    I was living with him up until last week, his depression was really starting to put a strain on our relationship. I decided that it would be best in the best interest of our relationship and my fiance if I moved back home. Living together at this point was poision for our relationship. He agreed. He appologized profusely for making me upset and hurting me, he told me how guilty he felt for putting me through this. As I was moving my things out, he explained that he loved me very much and that this was not a break up.
    Everything changed within in three days, he wants to call off our wedding and even worse break up because he says he will never ever get better and that nothing hurts him more than knowing what he is doing to me. He says he he wants to be with me but doesn’t want to ruin my life by dragging me through the mud. I told him that I had no problem holding off on the wedding but I refused to let him break up with me, I accepted this proposal for a reason. I will not give up on him that easily, I told him that I would give him all the space he needed and to call me when he was ready, and he agreed.
    I cannot understand what has happened. We have not had ANY problems in our relationship. I am beginning to feel incredibily guilty. In the early stages of depression, I had no idea what was happening I couldn’t figure out why he was so distant. I would cry all of the time and ask him “what is wrong?” over and over again. Maybe I made things worse? Maybe I pushed him away. At this point, he says he is not ready to see me because of the guilt he is feeling. Even talking to me at this point is difficult for him. I am trying so hard not to take any of this personally but it feels as though he is punishing me for the way he is feeling. This has been the most difficult situation I have ever been in. I can’t stop crying! What am I doing wrong? How can I ensure that I am taking the proper steps in order to restore the relationship we once had.

  105. kimberleys comments really hit the spot, it is easy to resent the person not the illness, this makes me qustion my love sometimes, ie i ask myself “if i really loved my wife” i would be more compassionate all the time, but its hard sometimes, we rowed sat night.what makes me angry is unlike kimberleys husband my wife doesnt seem to help herself, shes been told exersize will help, but doesnt do any,the other night was nice weather so i suggested going for a walk with HER dog, but she chose to spend the evening watching the tv,i went for a 2 hour walk ALONE [with the dog].tv seems her only interest!. she got new medication which at 1st seemed to be helping but she is now not taking them as prescribed shes not giving them chance to work, after 14 years its really wearing me down, and think the kids are getting fed up with mum being how she is, and grumpy dad!. sorry if i sound selfish but ive had a crappy and stressful time at work this week, but nobody is asking how i am or how my day went, i know that sounds like self pity and i dont want to be, because she is the one ill not me, but grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. thanx if youve read my wishes.john

  106. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Kimberley, thank you for your insights and story! I’m amazed at how objectively you see both yourself and your husband — and I don’t see this as a rant at all.

    It’s good to hear that couples can live through depression together, even with little kids (a baby peanut, to boot). I love that you’re making the deliberate choice to love and accept your husband as he is…and yet you’re fair and honest with your own feelings.

    Again, thanks for stopping in — I know you’ve helped people learn to cope with their partners’ depression…you’ve certainly helped me better understand how depression affect couples.

    Take care,

  107. Hi there, My husband lives with depression (we’ve been together nearly 10 years and now have 2yo and 12wk old girls).
    We have been very lucky, my husband has not had a major episode for several years however he has lows from time to time and these vary in their severity. It certainly does take a toll on the partner, especially once you add kids to the mix. i find myself worrying constantly that the stress of family life and work responsibilities are going to ‘make him sick’. I also have periods where i really resent the depression and have to try really hard to remind myself it is the illness and not the person. Obviously, this makes me feel guilty, like a b*tch etc. My husband does actually work really hard to try to manage his depression and anxiety, he really does everything he can to lead a healthy lifestyle, pursues his cognitive therapy etc. Unfortunately it just doesn’t always add up particularly during life-changing events- eg,birth of second child equals joy AND stress. When he comes home from work in the evening our little girl is so excited to see him and sometimes I find myself wishing he’d make more of an effort to “perk-up” etc.

    I find that reminding myself of a few important points does help.

    * The depression is not the person (sounds cliched but amazing how you can forget).
    * I chose to marry and have children with someone who has depression. I even knew he had depression before dating him but I just didn’t understand the implications. But to be fair on myself, I fell in love with him very quickly and therefore there was no choice for me. It is still OK to acknowledge and accept your resentments.
    *Providing company, even if it is just a presence in the house is better than leaving them alone (I believe, no matter how severe their case). This forces them to participate in everyday life, even the arguments! You just have to limit your expectations. Yes, you can resent this.
    *i’m not perfect and sometimes i can be a real b*tch. This doesn’t help him. But I’m human.
    *try to keep busy so you don’t have too much time to resent things. Delight in the moments when he’s fully ‘there’.

    Obviously my rant is geared more towards those living with people who are currently ‘managing’ their depression. To be honest, if my husband had a major episode now that we have 2 kids I’m not at all sure how I’d cope. It is a daily fear. Will keep an eye on this site. x

  108. laurie, i know what your saying is true, im not suggesting my wife is depressed by choice, ive talked to gps about the causes of depression, chemical inbalences etc,ive also said things like “get over it” or suggested ” having a beer or two” to feel better [doesnt work]my wifes change of medication is showing positive signs, so fingers crossed. but the down side side is that it seems to be leaving her with no energy,always going to bed,i feel like a single parent sometimes.

  109. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Medication for depression — no matter what type of antidepressants they are — definitely changes the person’s behavior. And the longer people take meds, the more and long-lasting the changes are. But, those changes are often preferable than living with the symptoms of depression!

    It’s important to remember that depression is often caused by brain chemicals and hormones that are beyond the person’s control. No matter how good a person’s life is, some feelings and behaviors aren’t something that is chosen.

    I’ll never forget talking to a woman who was dealing with major depression. This was 20 years ago. I made the mistake of saying something like, “Just get over it — think about happy things! Be positive, and you’ll feel better.” That did NOT go over well, and I’ve since then learned that people with depression can’t control how they feel.

    Depression is so hard on everyone….but, if you can find the right antidepressants (and the right dosages, which can take time) and if you can make good lifestyle choices, you can certainly overcome it!

  110. i know what you mean, my wifes depression is screwing her up, but the medication [in my view] is also screwing her up, but im not the one with depression [yet] so dont really understand, im trying to. my sister as just beaten cancer for the 4th time,she should be the one depressed,my wife has a good life in comparison so sometimes this makes me angry and sometimes say things that perhaps dont help,im only human.your both still young so COMMITMENT is scary,you still have time on your side, at least your not old and passed it like some of us.ha ha

  111. Thank you for your support John, I think its the not knowing which is the hardest, and I believe in time (whether this be weeks or months) that I will get a final answer, deep down I am hoping that it is the medication screwing him up. I will keep updating on whats going on, this forum is a great way of getting everything out of me that i cannot physically say in words.
    V x

  112. hi vicki, sorry to read your situation, you will make your decision how you feel about it, if i can offer a male point of view on it, what i would do is give it time to see where it goes, its moving to fast,slow down, he says hes sorry and does not want to loose you,this may be true{ hope it is}sometimes you dont know what you have until you loose it, but it could also be born out of guilt, this is why i say give it time. his breakdown will mean hes not thinking straight,you both need space and time. best wishes. john

  113. He has since text me to say that he is very sorry, that he does love me and he does not want to lose me, that he needs to sort himself out and that he feels the medication is having an adverse effect on him.
    I take it this is normal? I understand it will be a complete Jeykll and Hyde situation at the moment in regards to his thoughts and feelings.
    Cheers, V x

  114. Thank you for your kind words Laurie, im going through all kinds of feelings at the moment, I understand that he needs space but its so hard to suddenly have all this crashing down on me, i’ve been hurt before but not like this…
    I know things will improve with time, and deep down I am trying to do whats best for him as well, as he needs to think all this through and admitted down to his medication giving him no feelings at all apart from anger that he’s making me feel this way, at the moment I can only hope that time is what it takes to sort everything out, and that in time we can start to see each other again, but its also a complete head-f**k to me.
    I will keep writing on here as getting it all out for the world to see I feel does help in its own way.
    Vix x

  115. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Aww, I’m so sorry Vicki.

    I just wrote to Sean (and you gave him some great advice! he’s the one whose friendship might be ending) — and it fits with what you’re going through:

    One of the saddest, hardest parts of life is realizing how little control we sometimes have over what happens to us. Don’t get me wrong — I’m all about empowering people to achieve their goals — but sometimes we just have to let people and things go. We just have to accept that whatever happens, happens…and all we can do is try to bounce back and not let it wreck our lives or make us bitter.

    And, remember that relationships go through all sorts of stages. Sometimes they die, but other times they just need breathing space. Your partner isn’t thinking very clearly right now — so maybe he will come back to you. If not, then he’s not the right man for you. And, it’s better to break up than spend time with someone who isn’t right for you.

    My heart breaks for you,


  116. He’s come to the decision to end our relationship. He is moving back to his parents, which will mean that I will have to also move back home with my parents. This is not what I want but now there is no choice. :'(

  117. My partner came in this morning and has said he thinks we should split up for good (or at least for the time being) – he even said that he hopes I can be happy in the end, but that he cannot see us spending the rest of our lives together (even though 2 years ago he proposed to me and I said yes). This has been the most upsetting thing of all, as I dont know if it’s him talking or again whether it’s the depression making him feel differently. I dont know whether to let go for good or whether to try and hold on to him. I dont want to let him go, and whether this is being selfish I dont know. We share most friends, and I get on really well with his family, and I dont want to hold him back if he really does feel that way, but I’m scared. Im scared of being alone, scared that if this is it then whether I could handle seeing him with someone else in the future. He is my first real love, and I really do love him so much.

    He has also said something in him cannot be that diminished in feelings as seeing me so upset is effecting him badly – he does not want to see me so upset knowing that he has caused this. I dont want any false hope though – he has said he may spend tonight back with me at our flat to see how it goes, but I dont know whether he is doing this to try and prevent me from being so upset, but again I dont want false hope.

    Writing this is helping me a lot, and I am grateful to all you guys for having this forum. I have discussed all this with my friends, however I feel getting your advice or thoughts is a fantastic thing, as you do not judge.

    I will continue to write on here as you guys are helping me, even if you are a few thousand miles away!

    Thank You


  118. hi laurie, wow thanx for your reply,really thoughtful. ye i do fill my life with activeties, i regulally go out with my eldest son and a couple of freinds mountain biking,tho they are not palls who i can really share my problems with,ive tried to encourage my wife to join us or tojust go out together but without success.her doctor suggested exercise to incourage happy feelings but it is hard to “get her going”, it is putting a strain on our marrage, and i feel she is missing out on so much of life with our two sons and me. again thank you for taking the time to comment, looking back at your other comments to other people you seem a very nice and helpful person, but don’t forget about yourself sometimes,take care. john

  119. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Vix — hang in there, and keep us posted!

    I know exactly how you feel about living alone after being used to living with someone. My husband goes away regularly for work (he’s a geologist who has to travel to remote exploration camps)….and it’s a very difficult adjustment when he leaves. And when he comes home, it’s a whole new adjustment. (maybe I should write an article about that….)

    It’s probably good that he’s with his parents for now. It’ll give him time and space to miss you, and let his physical body settle a little. Let him come home when he’s ready…you’re a wonderful girlfriend — like John said!


  120. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi John,

    Fourteen years is such a long time to be coping with your wife’s depression! I’m sorry about that, that’s so hard on a marriage. I remember working with a man whose wife struggle with multiple personality disorder, and it just torn him apart. He stayed with her, but boy was it rough.

    Have you heard of Alanon? It’s a huge, helpful organization for people whose loved ones are alcoholic. I don’t know if there’s a similar organization in the UK for people coping with their loved ones’ depression, but Vicki is right that your doctor might be able to tell you about local groups.

    I also recommend building your own interesting, fulfilling life when you’re coping with a stressful home life – or a partner’s depression. What do you love to do? Find buddies, meet with them weekly or bi-monthly, and pursue your favorite hobbies. Focus on healthy hobbies, like sports or book clubs or men’s breakfast meetings. I volunteer at our local library every Saturday afternoon; I love it because it combines my love of books and reading with getting out of the house and interacting with people. Plus, I’m helping a local nonprofit organization!

    I hope this helps a little — and I want you to know you’re not alone. So many people are struggling with similar problems in their marriage, and only a small percentage actually share their stories and ask for help. I’m glad you gathered your courage and shared a bit of your life.

    Take care, and come back anytime. Feel free to share what does and doesn’t help you — others might benefit from hearing that!


  121. hi, thanx vicki. hope your situation resolves itself and you both become a happy couple again, i admire your love and loyalty towards your partner. john

  122. Hi John
    Your doctor should be able to recommend a local councillor or therapy group, make sure they dont just fob you off with websites to visit or anything like that. My doctor didnt really give me any advice, just signed me off work for a week so I could get my head around what’s happened, so make sure you tell your doctor you need their help and dont take no for an answer.

    Laurie, thank you again for your advice. My partner is staying with his parents for the foreseeable future to try and come to terms with himself, so I am now living on my own for a bit. It’s lonely more than anything, especially at night. I will be taking things a day at a time – we spoke today and he said he needs me more as a friend right now as opposed to me as his girlfriend. This is hurting me in a way, but I understand that in front of him I cannot feel sorry for myself, and am grateful that we can talk normally. I do hope he can come to terms with everything, and that we will become a couple again, but I know at the moment that there is nothing I can do except be there for him.

  123. Hi,my first time on, so nervous, my wife has suffered from depression for 14+years now, we the partners are often fogotten because we are not the ones ill, out of desperation i found this site, and found comments really useful[ thanx everyone ]My wife is currently on a “downer” and as talked of suiside,the comments made that doctors to easily priscribe more drugs is spot on, this happened at the docs yesturdy, im not saying they dont work, the pills she was on did work tho with side effects, for 14yrs, but have now stopped working, hence the change.But what happens when these stop working?.My health is suffering now and feel helpless, and fogotten, we are also in need of help, im going to talk to gp to see if there is any help avaiable, does anyone know of any here in the uk?. im not really a person who easily goes to the docs, but feeling quite desperate. john

  124. I’m sorry about your partner’s nervous breakdown, Vicki — and I’m so glad you confided in your parents! It’s great that they’re so supportive; you’re a lucky woman.

    What a drag about the wrong medication….yikes. That’s terrible. But, at least he’s off the wrong meds; the right ones will kick in soon.

    Maybe it would be wise to think about living apart from your boyfriend for awhile. If you do talk to a counselor, that’s definitely one of the first things to discuss. Maybe he needs space and time to cope with his depression and pull his life back together. Sometimes it’s healthiest to do this alone; other times, it’s healthiest to stay with your partner. I don’t know which is best in your case…but I encourage you not to fight it if he does want space.

    It’ll be rough for the next little while, I suspect…but it WILL get easier! Once he starts thinking clearly again, you two will be able to communicate better and more honestly (like you said, the medication may have muddled his thinking).

    And, it’s totally normal to feel sorry for yourself. You’ve lost something significant: your relationship the way it was! That’s sad, and it’s okay to feel bad about it. Your life is totally in flux, and that’s a hard way to live.

    I wish you all the best, and invite you to come back whenever you need to.


  125. My partner has had a nervous breakdown. Now, my uncle had one back in the 1990s, and my dad had to look after him at the time, so my dad has been helping me to understand all of this, and has also spoken to my partner himself to help in any way he can.
    I’m feeling calmer at the moment – my parents helped me greatly when I told them yesterday about the happenings of the past week. Advice will still be greatly appriciated, and I’d like to thank you guys for just having a message board about depression. Vix x

  126. Thank you for the advice Laurie, I’ve got the doctors myself today as I am not coping with this very well. I think part of it is the shock and the other part is the thought that my partner is doubting our relationship, saying we’re growing apart and not suited to each other, that we should move out and live apart for a while. He said yesterday that he feels like I’m only upset because I cant stand the thought of being alone (as in without a boyfriend). I guess part of my concious is scared of being alone again, however I love my partner so much and cannot see myself spending the rest of my life with anyone else. I’m just stuck in a cycle of wishing I had noticed this sooner and been able to do something about it to thinking (and breaking down) about the silly thought of never being in his arms again, never being as close as I feel we were. I also feel sorry for myself, which is selfish but I cannot not think this either.
    My partners parents took him to hospital last night and told me that the doctor there said he was given the wrong medication, so a small part of me is hoping that a change in medication will clear his head. I understand that he could be using our relationship as a scapegoat to blame as part of his depression, and understand that he could be saying things he would never say before due to the medication. When he started counselling a few weeks ago I said to him that the counsellors job is to get the shit from his mind, to get him to understand why he feels the way he does. He admitted that there are things he told the councellor last week that he cannot tell me, and feels guilty in a way that he should be able to tell me. I said to him at the time, again, there are things that the councellor can get out of you that you would not be able to tell any other person, no matter who they are.
    Writing this down is calming me down slightly, just getting this off my chest is a relief of sorts. I’m sorry if I’m ranting on and on, but to get advice from anyone who has or is going through what I’m going through is a small comfort. V x

  127. Vicki,

    I haven’t coped with a partner’s depression and I hope someone else responds to you here, but I just wanted to encourage you!

    Counseling for yourself is a good idea, to help you sort through your feelings of helplessness, frustration, and pain. And, a counselor can help you figure out where your responsibility begins and ends. You can support your partner and be there for him, but there’s only so much you can do (and it might not feel like enough). Letting go of what you can’t control is so important when your partner is struggling with depression and medication changes.

    I also encourage you to be honest with your family. He’s still a great person; he’s just struggling with his health right now. Depression is a physical illness as much as a psychological one, and it doesn’t make him less of a man. It’s just a disorder he’s coping with — and we shouldn’t let stigma or shame surround it.

    He’s doing the best he can, and he WILL get his medication levels sorted out. It just takes time.

    Good luck — and if anyone else has a partner struggling with depression, I encourage you to share your experience and advice with Vicki!


  128. My partner was diagnosed with depression about 2 months ago. He admitted to me he has always felt like this, but because of the way he was brought up he was taught that men should not show emotion. We have been like any normal couple, having a few arguments over silly things then making up and feeling silly afterwards. Now my partners doctor tripled his dosage of Fluoxetine about 2 weeks ago. I have noticed my partner has been quieter than normal, in terms of not as boisterous with friends, not as jokey, however I have assumed that it is because of the medication.
    Last night he turned round to me and said he didn’t think the relationship is working, that he feels we may be better off as friends, that we seem to have grown apart. We’ve been together for 4 years and lived together for 2. He then went on to state that we argue a lot (no different from the amount normal couples argue) and that maybe we should take a break and see how our feelings change.
    Now this came so out of the blue I was in severe shock, especially when he called his parents to pick him up. He is going to stay with family for the next few days to try and clear his head, and I agreed with him to talk to his family and see if they can make any sense out of it all. I’m now left feeling deserted and unable to understand this sudden change in character. I have the feeling it could be the medication talking and not my partners real feelings, but it was a change in him so sudden I did not know how to react. Literally the night before we were all over each other, cuddling, talking, being a normal couple. I spent the night crying and also have spent most of this morning crying and going over and over in my head what I can do to help him. I have an appointment with my doctors next week about a different matter, but was wondering how I would benefit from going to a councillor myself to try and cope with this. The thought of telling my family about my partner is even more upsetting as they think he is great, and I dont want to change their view point about him. I’m 27 whereas my partner is 25. His parents are being very supportive of him and offering their support to me, which I appriciate immensley. I guess I just want some advice from people who have been through what I am going through now. Thank You

  129. Thank you everyone for the great advice.
    I am trying to take my health into my hands– since being down I’ve lost appetite and am already very petite, so I’m making myself eat (healthy food) and am trying to exercise.
    My big concern right now is my sleeplessness. I haven’t slept a wink in two nights, and before that, I slept maybe 4-5 hrs the night before.
    I tried taking Tylenol PM the first night and another sleep aid last night to no avail. I guess I talked to a pharmacist today and she said the depression meds can’t be acting this fast. Maybe it’s my anxiety about TAKING the meds causing the sleeplessness? I don’t know, but I really need my sleep (I have a job and am taking two summer classes).
    I wish my doctor had a referral from someone else saying what med would work for me. This doctor doesn’t know me very well- and I thought she was very cold in how she handled my situation. She took maybe ten minutes to decide what pills would work. I’m switching to another female doctor…
    Has anyone heard anything about Ortho Cyclen’s affects on a person with depression? At the beginning of summer I was on Ortho Tri Cyclen (which I had been on for a year) but was recommended to switch to Ortho Cyclen by my gynecologist. I’m questioning the effects of estrogen on my body and if I should get off the pill? I would use a backup method as I already do (though I never have sex anymore :( )
    Any ideas on any of this? Sorry if I didn’t answer everyone’s questions, and thank you, Laurie for the college article, I plan to print it out and read it through.
    Thanks, everyone

  130. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Amanda, it’s totally understandable that your feelings of depression are affecting your relationship. Depression affects every aspect of life — including libido, feelings of connectedness, and the ability to feel secure in a relationship. And, your feelings of anxiety are also very normal and understandable! Let yourself feel those feelings, and then remind yourself to let them go. They’re not helpful in the long run, and they won’t help you create a strong relationship with your boyfriend. Take deep breaths, and remember that you’ve had two great years together! You’re just going through a transition, and growth like this can be painful.

    Trust him, trust your relationship, and trust that you WILL come through this bout of depression. You just need time to adjust, and your body needs time to react to the antidepressants.

    It surprises me that your doctor give you a new antidepressant (or add a new antidepressant to what you’re already taking) so quickly. I’ve read that it can take up to 3 months before antidepressant medication kicks in.

    I suggest figuring out exactly what you’re worried about in terms of university, and finding ways to cope with those worries. For instance, are you anxious about finding your classes? Then, take a day to explore the campus and practice walking from class to class. Are you worried about not being “smart enough”? Start reading up on study skills and test taking strategies. Talk to people who went or are going to university, and ask what they were afraid of and how it turned out.

    I recently wrote an article called “Tips for Surviving College for New Students”, here on Quips & Tips. Here’s the link:

    Also — my friend’s daughter moved across the country to go to university, and was so homesick she cried every night for the whole first semester. She didn’t know that her roommate was crying every night too, because both were too embarrassed to say how scared they were! Open up about your fears and worries…because you’d better believe that your fellow classmates are scared and worried, too — no matter how “together” and happy they seem.

    I wish you all the best. And, if you’d like me to write another “Tips for University Success” article, I’d be happy to! Just let me know. I didn’t think I’d ever go to university, and here I am with two degrees :-)


  131. Hello Amanda

    Put away the fear and put on your detectives hat. At 19 and starting to experience depression for the first time with the kind of transition you are making is telling. I get the sense from what you wrote your doctor gave you a consultation and not a complete work up. As I stated in an earlier post meds don’t treat the cause they mask the symptoms. Think of it as aspirin for a headache. As you are in the early stages, I believe if you haven’t had a complete work up, you should. The reason is unlike a headache numbing the pain doesn’t ease the causes in concern with your depression. In the early stages depression is curable 85% of the time. The stress of change could only have teamed up with a hormonal imbalance. Some real easy solutions to counter that can take place. Say for instance the imbalance can occur does to either a dietary change or the body developing an allergy to a food you frequently eat. No it’s not an easy process in the short term but the long term benefits can mean the difference between a lifetime on meds or living freely. Depression at your age is common because it is an age of great change. You may not be able to be as active as you once were. New and trendy food interest change. Exposure to daylight may be less due to studies and or work. Look for the answer there and you may not only find yourself back on track but more intune with your mind and body. This also puts you more in control of your life and com’on how cool is that. Look for answers now and you will love life more later.

  132. Hi Amanda! I just have a moment and am not in a position to give advice but I do wonder who is prescribing the medicine. Is it your primary care dr? If so, did you get to read Rich’s comments to Hannah? I feel someone should really get to know you before deciding the best anti-depressant(s). Lack of sex drive is a problem with many of the anti-depressants but depression can do that too. And yes, depression can strain a relationship but not knowing the problem is depression is worse (like for 27 plus years). I wish I had known that in the past. If your primary care dr and not a psychiatric nurse practioner or psychiatrist prescribed the meds, I wonder how he/she made the choice of the meds. I would express concern that you wondered if the med is decreasing your sex drive (YOU ARE 19 SO PLEASE!!!! PLS USE ALL THE PROTECTION YOU CAN). Also if there is any concern abt weight gain, I do know that can be a problem with Paxil. Like I said I don’t know a lot abt this but I wonder if you are a candidate for Wellbutrin (not something everyone can take but it isn’t suppose to decrease sex drive or cause weight gain but it is in a different category of meds than Paxil which is an SSRI I believe. I’m not sure that I should even mention it because you have to be careful switching meds. Believe me if you’ve read what I wrote abt my husband, it takes between 2-6 weeks for meds to work. I just remembered my sister’s friend’s dtr your age was helped by being in the hospital so they could monitor her until she was on the right med but I don’t know why that decision was made. I can tell you from my own experience that counseling really helps. I’m hoping someone that is more knowledge on this and not dealing with a difficult situation at home can help.
    Congratulations on recognizing you are experiencing depression. Asking for help is a big step. Counseling will help you as you prepare to transfer to a University. Enjoy the excitement of being at the university. I really gtg. Again I can’t repeat enough that I don’t know that I should suggest any med. My major suggestions are to get a referal to someone other than a primary care dr to help find the best antidepressant and to get some counseling. And it is very impt that you relay your concerns abt side effects. Warmest wishes, thoughts & prayers, Michelle PS Laurie & Rich and anyone out there more able to answer any ideas? ALSO AMANDA, ARE YOU LIVING IN AN AREA THAT HAS HAD A LOT OF DARK, DREARY RAINY DAYS THIS SUMMER? If so, many with depression are really having a problem with the lack of sunshine. I don’t know what country you’re in. My counselor stressed how impt it is to get outside EVEN on cloudy days as it increases your serotonin which helps your mood. Wishing you all the best! Also if in the US, see my comments about NAMI’s support groups and even their website, (any country). Your boyfriend can even go to a support group.

  133. Hi all,
    I’m currently going through a bad case of depression.
    I’m almost 19 years old and heading off to a university for the first time this August (though I’ll be a Junior there) and the stress of college/ the unknown, etc has plagued me.
    The doctor started me on Paxil last Thursday, but because I’m not feeling better, today she started me on Lexapro.
    My main concern with my depression is my relationship with my boyfriend.
    We’ve been dating about two years now and I love him very much. I’ve been severely depressed this past month and had bouts of sadness in June as well, and I’m just wondering if it’s normal for depression to be affecting my relationship as much as it is?
    I feel like he’s going to leave me because I’m no longer happy. He tells me not to worry about us but I can’t stop. When I’m with him, the quality of time spent together is not like it used to be, and I have absolutely no sex drive (which is completely opposite of how I was before antidepressants and switching from ortho tri-cyclen to ortho cyclen).
    If anyone has any advice for me that’d be great. I really want my relationship to work, I just hate that I’m doubting it, etc. He’s an amazing guy and I want to know how to make things feel “right” again.

  134. You are most welcome Hannah & thank you for the warm wishes. Glad you are employed as at least you have other contacts, fulfillment etc. Didn’t even occur to me that you might be in the UK. The number won’t apply although you can get some info from Wishing you all the best! Better get ready for group and take care of some things at home tonight! Take care & best wishes, Michelle

  135. Michelle, Rich, Laurie,

    I send my love and warmest gratitude to you all, I feel uplifted by all your responses and wonderful advice, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I’m actually at work at the moment typing this at my desk and trying not to cry with relief! So might have to go for a cry later :) This will have to be a short one as it is just after 9.00am here, but I will check back later after letting the info sink in for a while. I am in the UK but feel closer to you already despite the many miles between us and possibly many hours between comments! See you soon and mcuh love.


  136. Checking in again! Will share some of my notes from my first counseling session after intake! IT IS SOOOOO VERY WORTH IT!Life changing and that is exactly what I said after my first day in group for partners of combat vets with PTSD and adjustment issues.
    Counselor talked abt safeguarding my emotional health not only for myself but my husband. And not allowing him to control or manipulate me. I am to internally talk to self and say….(HANNAH LET’S BOTH REMEMBER THIS!!!)….:”My loved one (say name) is in a bad space right now. I don’t need to go there with him/her. I am going to wait until he/she is in a better space.” (wait to discuss/talk etc of course not wait on getting help).
    He stressed taking care of myself. We also talked abt anger outbursts (common with PTSD) and how changing the subject and not giving eye contact can help. Oh, he said it may seem selfish to take care of self but it isn’t because it helps our partner.
    We talked abt how sometimes I inject humor and if he doesn’t respond to say Joke, “John”, joke! He said studies show that positive eventually overrides the negative so it is good I inject positive.
    Need to sign off for a while. All the best! Michelle PS The other thing we worked on probably doesn’t apply but if it does we can talk abt. With PTSD and sometimes depression, overstimulation can be a problem so because I’m wordy, detail oriented and can be loud-voiced, I need to work on pausing more while talking to my husband and if possible have him tell me when he is overstimulated (emotionally). Take care, Michelle

  137. Hi all! So glad you were able to respond to Hannah, Laurie& Rich. Hannah, Rich is absolutely rt abt not going to a GP dr or other primary care dr (unless perhaps if you need a referral to a psych). In my husband’s case, his primary care dr referred him to a psychiatrist back in 2006 but the dr was careful to say for “med management” so my husband won’t think it was for psychotherapy.
    I got home later than expected so will give you bits and pieces of info rather than nothing. I forgot to ask if you were in the US. I see Laurie is in Canada. NAMI may very well just be in US as is the 211 system. So let us know. NAMI DESERVES OUR SUPPORT!!!!! They are fighting for the mentally ill and will help you in many ways. If by some coicidence you are in Maine, I can give you more specifics. I did double check and it is and the other website is or dial 211 if your are in US for social service type info. I’m sure you will find info in the phone book also. There is usually a section of info. There are crisis hot lines, warm lines (for you for noncrisis moments) etc. In US there is a suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK (CORRESPONDS WITH 8255). aLSO THERE is an adult crisis # which I believe is the Nat’l Crisis hotline but is run through Community Health & Counseling 1-888-568-1112. Per NAMI’s info: “You must get help. No one can handle such crises alone. Incl family, public authorities, crisis workers and professionals.” (FOR ANYONE OUT THERE, NAMI has a free 12 week family education class that is wonderful!!!! Do not miss!)
    I will share some impt info from my counseling appt in a separate comment as I don’t want to accidentally loose any of this. Oh, before I do, once things calm down, you can do an online search for support on dealing with a partner with depression. I also am in a group. In my case it is for spouses of combat veterans but I know that the shelter for battered family members (can’t think of the name) offers groups as well as other places. I don’t know your insurance situation or if you or your partner are working. Many companies have EAP, Employee Assistance Program. If you do, call them!!!! Running out of time. Yoga class in AM (FOR ME!!!!) AND MY GROUP at the VEt CEnter in the afternoon. Oh, and if you are somewhere where there is a NAMI family support group (a city perhaps?), go to it Hannah!!! 2 people last week mentioned counseling and someone at the bank did so that’s when I finally went. Will send this and then give you info from my counseling session. Warmest wishes, thoughts & prayers, Michelle in Maine

  138. In addressing Hannah by GP I believe you are talking about a reqular doctor. GP’s when it comes to mental health are a bad resource. They tend to write prescriptions without doing a full work up which is both a physical and mental exam. The result is they prescribe medications they know about but do not fully understand in relationship to mental illness. The have a general knowledge not an indepth knowledge. For instance Effexor for a while was the drug of choice by GP’s but they don’t understand the with certain depession disorders such as BPD it increases paranoia and sleeplessness and needs to offset by other drugs. I witness a person on the drug go to work go out late at night get home a few hours later and get ready to go back to work all without sleep for days at a time. Remember drugs don’t treat the problem, they just mask the symptoms. A mental health specialist should be involved and a full not drive thru treatment program needs to be put in place.

  139. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for offering this info about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Michelle, I wouldn’t have thought of it. I’m so glad you’re here. Your own experience and caring nature makes you more than qualified to reply!

    And, yes, taking care of your own emotional health is huge when you’re coping with your partner’s depression. Hannah — you can’t take his pain away, but you can deal with your own feelings of guilt, frustration, or anger.

    To be healthy, you have to talk to someone, whether it’s a friend, family member, or a counselor. Don’t keep it bottled up. That’s exactly what your partner did — and it doesn’t work! Writing about it here is great, and I hope it helps, but talking to people in person is really important.

    Stay in touch, and feel free to share how you’re doing! You’re not alone, and you are being heard and understood.


  140. Since I don’t have phone numbers to give you besides for numbers, you can dial 211 and that is a nat’l number to help you with referrals for anything of a social service/community nature. That is 211. If by any chance your husband is a combat veteran, then I can give you more info on that (Vet Centers, VA etc)

    What you are going through IS VERY DIFFICULT! I needed someone to tell me that when I experienced a crisis a few weeks ago. Take a little time for yourself and see if you can call a crisis line. Just my opinion. Michelle

  141. Hi Hannah!!!! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!!! So glad you checked in. I have to leave the house but will check back in this evening. Writing does help doesn’t it. I’m sending a long-distance hug, warmest wishes and prayers. I’m not sure why you think you can’t talk to someone. I believe you can. You can talk to a hot line/crisis mgmt, someone perhaps through your insurance company (they have crisis managers). There is also NAMI, Nat’l Alliance on Mental Illness. They are a wonderful organization ( I went to a counselor yesterday for the first time after my initial intake and it is so helpful. He said I (applies to you too) must take care of my emotional health and that in itself will help my partner. I gtg for now but wanted to let you know you are not alone. I will share some more from my appt if you’re interested and I hope someone with more expertise writes to you before I can get back later. All the best, Michelle PS I don’t feel qualified to reply but I will share what I can.

  142. Hi everyone,

    Hello and best wishes to you all. I don’t know if anyone is still around but just typing feels like a release even if no-one responds. My partner has revealed to me how close he now feels to a breakdown, having suffered depression, breakdowns, self-harming and suicidal thoughts / threats, and anger issues on and off throughout his life, which I was aware of and have previously experienced. I try to help and support him but none of it is enough and I feel helpless and terrified. I know I have to be strong but I can’t talk to anyone. I’ve told him how brave he is for telling me (whilst still wishing he’d told me sooner) and am trying to arrange a doctor’s appointment etc with a GP he hasn’t seen before as he refuses to see one he has already seen about his anxiety / depression. I also keep telling him he deserves a lifeline and professional support but my other fear is that, as he has done before, he might give up on medication / counselling / etc after making the big first steps. I am also riddled with guilt for feeling frustrated that he didn’t seek any help for anger management when I was badly affected, despite giving him all the support, encouragement, tolerance and forgiveness I could muster. I’m at a loss and want to take all his pain away but I can’t. What can I do? Thank you for reading, thank you even more if you can say something in response.


  143. Thank you Laurie! I saw a big improvement today. Hopefully the fine tuning of the meds is helping AND we’ve had so many dark days this summer that the sunshine helped. Amazing he watched most of a movie in the dark without falling asleep. Maybe 2 movies. That’s a start. Thanks again, Michelle

  144. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Michelle, I look forward to hearing what your counselor says about how your husband’s depression is affecting you, and how it’s affecting how he treats and thinks about you. Please keep me posted!

    And regarding other readers commenting: I read somewhere that only 1 out of 100 readers comment! Honestly, I wish more people commented, but most people just like to read and reflect.

    But, I echo Michelle’s invitation: if you have any questions or comments about how to cope with your partner’s depression, I welcome you here or on any article on Quips & Tips. :-)


  145. Thank you so very much Rich for your comments and Laurie for giving him “the heads up”! I’d love to hear from other people dealing with this but until later back to laundry etc. Finally a sunny day in New England. Best, Michelle PLS ANYWAY IF YOU’RE READING THIS WEBSITE, YOU MUST HAVE SOME PERSONAL INTEREST OR PROFESSIONAL INTEREST. IT IS CONFIDENTIAL. LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. Again, thanks Rich!

  146. First of all thank you Laurie for giving me the heads up to respond to Michelle. Hiding depression is a defense mechanism. Society is a long way from working past the myth, misconceptions and stigmas that surround depression. Depression is hidden not only by isolation or drinking but by projecting yourself in a positive light and being outgoing. The personality traits used are sculpted over the years as a person finds what works best for them. As like with addiction until the person face up to and outs the problem it can grow. Unfortunately, irritability is only one of the manifestaions. Health problems, rashes, allegies, irrational phobias and mental disorders can also develop. One such person had a fear of being picked up. She had been masking BPD for most of her life. Going so far as when it was detected in therapy, she withdrew. The key to your relationship is you appear to have an understanding and empathy working. That is good. But in order to tackle the problem properly the person has to not only acknowledge the problem but address the the manifestation. Otherwise they can never move forward.

  147. Hi Laurie& Rich too if you’re checking in. Laurie, you talk abt the partner with depression projecting his/her negative feelings and then Rich commented on it which made me reread what you wrote. I don’t know that it is deliberate on my husband’s part but it is/has happened in our marriage. I didn’t really think abt it as being part of the depression talking so I’m glad to be made aware of it. I may want to explore this concept further down the line with my counselor and wondering if you or anyone have any other comments abt this or any other way to elaborate on it. It’s hard to believe for how many years his depression was hidden as irritability tempered perhaps by drinking & isolation…maybe 27 yrs! 3 years ago he admitted depression when he went to see a psch for med to help with sobriety. Thanks so much! IF SOMEONE ELSE IS READING THIS WON’T YOU PLS COMMENT! Michelle in Northern NEW England, USA.

  148. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    You’re welcome, Michelle — I’m glad to help!

    It’s best to connect with me through Quips and Tips, so other readers can see that they’re not alone. For every person who comments on coping with a partner’s depression (like you!), there are at least 10 other readers who don’t comment. Even though they don’t share their story or ask a question, they’re being helped just by reading others’ comments, and my suggestions.

    Take care, and keep in touch,


  149. Thank you so very, very much Laurie!!!! You’ve helped me clarify some of my goals. Will reread each time I’m ready to take another step. Warmest wishes, Michelle PS Wasn’t sure if it is best to email you directly or through this site.

  150. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    That’s great that you’re booked to see a counselor, Michelle. Taking care of your own mental, emotional, and physical self will help you cope with your husband’s depression.

    It sounds like he’s going through alot: breaking sobriety, going off his meds, depression, PTSD….wow. He’s so lucky to have you, and sooner or later he’ll recognize that (if he doesn’t already!).

    Giving him space is a good idea. I’d also suggest building your own life — spend time with people who love and invigorate you, take classes, go on short (or long!) trips with friends or family members, take up a new hobby, start a new exercise class (belly dancing?!)……do things that interest you and give you energy.

    Your husband will eventually find his way through his depression — and you’ll be there when and if he needs you. But, you really do need to take care of your own health and soul!

    Good luck with the counseling (it’ll be tough, but so good for you in the long run!), and keep me posted. I’d love to hear how you and your hubby are doing.


  151. Thank you so much for this article. My husband’s depression is still quite bad as he gets back to his previous meds and at the correct dosage. I’ve noticed while he is in this difficult state, he wants even less than ever to communicate. More than the most limited talking seems to be too much. (He has managed to go back to work after a week off so is dealing with work frustration too)He also has partial PTSD. I’m thinking that because he must have a lot going on in his head (including guilt for going off the med and breaking his sobriety) that right now he just needs A LOT OF SPACE and little talking from me. Any comments? I did schedule my first appt with a counselor (LCPC) on Monday. Thanks much, Michelle

  152. Coping with your partner’s depression is easier when you understand about the projection of negative feelings, to be sure. The more you know about how people with depression feel, the better you’ll be able to cope — and the better your relationship will be!

    Thanks for your comment, Rich.

  153. i want to commend you for making a point about depression and projection of negative feelings. I find it is a very under publicized and common component of depression that most people do not comprehend. As I teach depression awareness I find it is a hard concept for people to grasp due to the fact the first obstacle is getting over taking it personally. To that extent both parties have to bridge the gap of realization it is the illness not the person talking.