Do you have any advice for a husband that has a wife that is dealing with serious depression? My wife is seeing a counselor and on an antidepressant medicine. I do pray for her and try and encourage her. We recently moved and the depression has gotten significantly worse. The counseling and medicine began after the move and is too early to tell if it is helping. Is there any advice you have for me as a husband?
This is a very difficult issue and one that requires approaching it with care and concern, just like you are.
As you know everyone occasionally feels blue and sad at times, but depression is much more severe, and interferes with daily life and routine. Depression is, unfortunately, a common illness, but it can cause much pain and is considered a very serious illness. Fortunately professional treatment can help many people get better.
Your job as husband is to continue providing support, insight and perspective, as well as to keep praying for your wife. Her fight with depression will also take a toll on you as the caregiver, and so you must also be prepared for the changes and impact this has on you.
It is important to have your wife seeing her counselor, and to keep up with the antidepressants that your doctor prescribed. My suggestion is that you talk to her doctor about any changes in her dosage or medications type to see if that will help alleviate some of the symptoms. The other issues (the move, possible isolation, etc.) for your wife should be explored with a professional.
Remember that there is hope, and there is help. A number of new studies are showing encouraging results for those who stick with counseling, and who stay up on the medication prescribed. Ask her doctor about any new ways to treat this illness. And know that you are doing the right thing by encouraging her and praying for her and helping her maintain her connection with those trained professionals who are experts in this area.
Finally, there are support groups in many cities for spouses like you, and the counselor you are working with can help you find the details.
Christopher Grace serves as the director of the Biola University Center for Marriage and Relationships and teaches psychology at Rosemead School of Psychology. He and his wife, Alisa, speak regularly to married couples, churches, singles and college students on the topic of relationships, dating and marriage. Grace earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in experimental social psychology from Colorado State University.