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DP diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety today please help me support him

(29 Posts)
TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 18:47:38

Things are massively shit at the moment. Suddenly within the last 2 weeks dp has plunged into a very dark place as he has utterly CONVINCED himself that he has got bowel cancer.

He of course has not but crippling health anxiety has taken over and things are just so hard.

4 different docs have tried to reassure him but it makes no difference. We just had an hour gp appt where he was prescribrd some meds and they also examined him to check for any anal bleeding (what he thinks he has been having) he has piles but there is nothing visible hence him being convinced he has cancer.

The doc is putting a private referral for him this week for abdominal scans to put his mind at rest (at dp's insistence even though every doc has said not to worry).

My Dad has bowel cancer and was not diagnosed for a long time hence where the idea has probably come from but there is literally no other reason at all symptom wise for dp to think that he is ill. It's all psychological.

It has all been so sudden. What can I do to make him feel better? Anyone please help.

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:25:46

desperate bump

Sparklingbrook Mon 13-Jan-14 19:30:03

Hi Tiny. <<hugs>>

What meds has he been given do you know?

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:32:25

c something pram

Sparklingbrook Mon 13-Jan-14 19:32:55


sarajane231 Mon 13-Jan-14 19:33:07

I suffered from health anxiety and it really only comes from within. The best thing for him is some CBT and also for you to be firm with him that there is nothing AT ALL wrong with him. Comforting is enabling. There is a great book called "Overcoming Health Anxiety" available on Amazon. Read it with him.

If you give him too much sympathy in a sense, it will reaffirm his decision that he's dying. I'd ban him from calling the doctor, and ban him from talking about cancer apart from certain times of the day. It sounds harsh, but it would have helped me when I was in it.

Also, distract him. Try and get him out with friends, take a trip. These things will help. the fact that he is going through this usually means he is making some sort of stress underneath. Try and resolve that.

My HA affected my partner very deeply...please get support for yourself as it can be very draining on you.

sarajane231 Mon 13-Jan-14 19:33:53

I know my post sounds harsh, but I had this condition for 10 years and it almost ruined my life!

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:35:58

I've tried to tell him that it is irrational but he just tells me I'm horrible. Everything has changed. I know this is not about me but things are hard enough with my Dad with actual advanced cancer, now this.

Yes. Citlopram (sp?) hasn't collected script yet but only got it at 5.30

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:37:49

Did not realise this but he has already told his manager he will be off sick. I think he should be at work. what is best?

newyearhere Mon 13-Jan-14 19:40:31

Citalopram is a SSRI, which can take a few weeks to work. Let your DP know that it should help, but it won't be immediately.

I don't know how much your DPs daily life is affected but is he able to keep to the usual routines with meals, sleep, some exercise each day, work...?

Listen to your DP as much as he needs, even if he repeats the same worries a lot. As he becomes stronger this won't be as necessary.

Take care of yourself also.

newyearhere Mon 13-Jan-14 19:41:30


I think going off sick is perfectly reasonable for now. The treatment isn't going to take effect for a few weeks.

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:44:18

Not eating. Sleeping though. Gone from exercising every day to nothing but I made him run yesterday.

Doc said the meds would take a while. Has arranged to see him again in 3 weeks to do those questionnaires again.

I'm extremely worried if he leaves work he won't go back. Bricking it.

Can't beleive how sudden this all is. Feel like a single parent.

LEMmingaround Mon 13-Jan-14 19:47:15

Your poor dh and poor you health anxiety is awful. I have been there and I have a general anxiety disorder. Citalopram is the drug of choice and it works. It foes take a while to eork. Up to 2 weeks and you can feel worse to start with. If it gets bad he can get something to take the edge off. Has he been referred gor counselling? He needs to ask about cbt to help with his thought patterns. You need to Ban him from google. Piles can often bleed so thst is the souce of blood. If there is any.

Be kind to yourself don't reassure him all the time.

My health anxiety is under control. If something like that worries me I say out loud " I aint having it" madly, this works.

LEMmingaround Mon 13-Jan-14 19:48:27

Good for you for making him run that will help

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 19:50:05

No councelling ref yet. All he can think about is this private referral for the abdo scans. He is literally obsessed with it. All doctors have said look, it is piles or a fissure. You are not dying. He won't have it.

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 20:30:50

So should I be harsh or gentor with him? confused

LEMmingaround Mon 13-Jan-14 20:34:37

Shame - he would be better spending his money on some counselling. I am surprised he hasn't been referred. Is this the first time he has had HA? is he generally anxious? Why is he having abdo scans when a colonoscopy is the way they diagnose/rule out bowel cancer. Maybe the scans will put a stop to things, but if he is like me, once he has ruled out bowel cancer, it will die down for a bit and then it will be soemthing else - ive "had" everything from breast cancer to multiple sclerosis, pancreatic cancer, to name but a few. So ruling one thing out just meant id be ok for a few weeks then something else would come up. Thankfully i have learnt to deal wth it now. Anxiety is a bastard. I bet he gets upset tummy too and the runs? well he would, its the anxiety - then if he is upset due to stress, his piles will bleed more - vicious circle.

LEMmingaround Mon 13-Jan-14 20:35:42

My DP has tried being everything, harsh, gentle, it really got him down in the end - Its difficult to say, what is he asking from you?

newyearhere Mon 13-Jan-14 20:43:27

OP I think you should be gentle with him. He needs to know you're there for him without judgement. He's probably feeling critical enough of himself and doesn't need it from anywhere else. Once he is stronger you can gently encourage (not push) him with the things that he finds helpful for his recovery (and this is different things for different people).

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 20:51:04

Yes he has ALWAYS had a dodgy stomach. I think he has a dairy intolerance but he is unwilling to try and do anything about it but that is not important right now. Has blanket diagnosis of 'IBS' from doctor of course. Has always had low level anxiety yes and suffered with nerves. Nothing compared to this, ever.

Never been medicated before. Was written a script for same drug in Oct but never claimed it.
I am trying to be really understanding but I am feeling really angry and upset at the moment tbh. Angry about the whole situation and the fact he has left it so long without mentioning it yet.

He was fine up until new year. I don't know who he is anymore. I have been trying to encourage him to talk to me for ages but he won't. Is this how life is going to be now? Because if so, it's crap.

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 20:53:15

He is asking me to be gentle I think. But he says he doesn't know. The answer to every question is 'I don't know'. With a blank face. I genuinely don't know what to do.

LEMmingaround Mon 13-Jan-14 21:08:35

Tiny, just be there for him, there is nothing you can "do" encourage him to take the meds, try and encourage him to ask for counselling referral or go private if you can afford it. The nerves and the IBS are probably related.

Life wont be like this forever, it will get better.

TinyDiamond Mon 13-Jan-14 21:14:00

Thank you. I don't feel like I have a partner today I just feel alone. I will go and collect his prescription for him tomorrow and make sure he takes it. We can't really afford anything, he has med insurance with his job and he is convinced that they are going to cover all of these investigations. We will struggle to even pay the excess which is £150. I am really worried about his job now if he goes off sick.

sarajane231 Tue 14-Jan-14 11:35:02's me speaking from experience.

When I had health anxiety (it was a 10 year battle) I always had a dodgy stomach. I went through IBS to gluten intolerance to food allergies to believing I had all sorts of cancers. In the end, the dodgy stomach went away with my health anxiety. It's a clear link really between stress and anxiety and these sorts of symptoms. A viscous cycle.

I know I made my DP feel alone. He only told me about it after, and I see now how much my condition made him suffer. He wan always gentle, always supporting, always reassuring.

The problem amount of reassurance is ever enough. even if he gets the all clear on all his medical tests, the health anxiety will make him think "what if they missed something?" or "This test is only 90% accurate".

He feels (as we all do in that situation) that he is looking for 100% proof that he doesn't have cancer...which is something impossible to get.

The ultimate problem is that he needs to get to the root of all health anxiety, which is accepting:

1. People get cancer. He might get it, and no amount of worrying will increase or decrease his chances.

2. If he does get cancer...he can HANDLE it. this is one of the key beliefs people with health anxiety do not understand.

3. He must come to a cognitive understanding that the energy and pain expended by believing he can somehow miraculously protect himself from illness or death by trying to "catch it early" comes at a far bigger cost than the risk of cancer itself.

I cannot tell you the root to the answer for it, but I can tell you that for me it was the shock of my DP letting me know the pain and suffering I had caused to HIM with living with it.

People with anxiety believe they are only hurting themselves, but the truth is they cause great pain to those around them - as you are showing.

Your husband is very lucky to have a wife that loves him like you do..but at the same time this love can be used as a retreat to the womb and you have to find a way to limit the reassurances you re giving him.

I agree with being gentle and letting him know you support him, but you also need to help HIM find the sense of rationality in all of this by setting limits and treating as what it is....something in his imagination.

Those with anxiety believe their imaginations to be reality. If they even sense that you do or night also it hinders them and becomes a catch 22.

Snipface Tue 14-Jan-14 18:57:04

Hi tiny
I don't have experience of health anxiety, but have been through periods of very extreme anxiety with my Dh, and you saying you felt like a single parent, and the suddenness, struck a chord with me. Six moths ago that was me, in despair, terrified that things would never get better and I didn't know what to do. But it did get better, and we are more than ok. The drugs your Dh has been given should help him, and please try not to worry about work too much - people get ill, and they get better, and sometimes it takes time but firms can't just get rid of them.

Do you have people who can help support your Dh, and you? You need to look after yourself, talk to your family/friends. Be kind to yourself and only do the minimum - you don't have to be on top of everything right now.


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