Regardless of the age or ethnicity, there are many men who suffer with un-diagnosed depression. We explain away our bad moods on a rough day at work or being sleep deprived. For the women in our lives, it’s tough to deal with because we don’t deal with it. Many spouses genuinely want to help. Because the signs can be so vague and non-descript, men often shield themselves by checking out on the relationship. However, there are certain patterns of behavior that are consistent with depression. Here are a few main indicators that you may want to take note of:
* Constant withdrawal from family and friends.
* Rapid weight loss or gain.
* Disinterest in sex.
* Long spurts of non-productivity, be it at work or in the home
So, as his woman, how can you help?
Well for starters, you have to get him to acknowledge that something isn’t right. People are able to deny something only when we’re aware of it. So the more a man denies that something is off with him, the more he realizes it is. He will make conscious effort to hide it from you. Pushing too hard can make things worst. Though you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it either. Be supportive and create an environment where he feels comfortable opening up to talk about what’s going on.
If the depression is temporary, like he lost his job or is grieving, give him plenty of verbal assurance that you’re remaining a team. Emphasize that we will get through it. It’s quite easy to blame withdrawal on feelings of abandonment. In this economy, men are battling mental health issues at an alarming rate. Not being able to sufficiently provide for our family are stingers to our pride. That will undoubtedly bring about feelings of hopelessness and cause us to retreat. Dealing with the stress and anxiety of being a house-husband is unknown territory for men in this millennium. Even if it takes him awhile to get the hang of what you’ve been doing for years, be patient and encourage him through the learning process. If you do become the main breadwinner, it’s okay to still make him feel like the man of the house.
And the last is of course, it’s imperative to seek professional therapy. Getting counseling is one of the most humbling things a man will have to do. It’s letting people know that he doesn’t have it altogether and figured it out. Not being “all good” is a sign of weakness that most men never admit to having. What’s important to remember as his partner is that therapy won’t work unless he’s an active participant. He’s never going to be break free of the depression if he attends every week just to sit there. Sometimes couples therapy is necessary.
A few weeks ago, there was an inspiring story over on Black and Married with Kids about one man’s struggle with depression and how it effected his marriage. Don Cox, a successful music producer from Washington DC, spoke very candidly about how the black community especially needs to be more aware of the epidemic that is depression among black men. In the interview, Cox explains how his bouts with depression actually went back further than adulthood; “Being in consistent places of sadness and negativity is not how life should be”.
As a couple you’re going to encounter very low periods. Depression (and other mental health diseases) can be controlled. As his partner, some onus is on you to help your husband or boyfriend identify the source of his anxiety and stress. Once you acknowledge the underlying problem, treating it will become more manageable.