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Really shaken by DH's lack of understanding about depression

(25 Posts)
SookieStackhouse Wed 07-Oct-09 12:30:41

I was diagnosed with depression about 8 months ago and prescribed Anti depressants which I elected not to take as was scared of the side effects.I have kind of worked hard on my self iyswim, and am OK at the moment but have good days and bad still-mainly good thankfully.However it has been a very hard time for me.DH knew about my diagnosis and was very helpful with the DD's and the house etc when I was low for which I am very grateful

DH and I were discussing a friend of a friends postnatal depression over the weekend.Said friend is quite wealthy and outwardly has a great life but PND is obviously indiscriminate.
DH's opinion was that 'she should think herself lucky' and sort herself out.

I was quite hurt that he would say this really.He is obviously quite ignorant about depression to think something like that (he is quite intelligent and is as a rule quite sensitive so it was doubly suprising).This despite my depressive episodes earlier in the year.

I kind of now think he thinks depression is not a very real thing and although I feel OK now I dont feel there are any guarantees I wont feel low again in the future and I would be worried about how he would react.

Finally I suppose I was hurt because if he were ill and it was something I knew nothing about I would go and find out about it-google it at least.He clearly didnt.

Maybe this should have been in AIBU?Am I just being over demanding in my expectations of DH and princessy or is this something to be concerned about?And how can I get DH to understand about depression in case he needs to in the future, without it sounding like im judging him for not knowing about it now?

overmydeadbody Wed 07-Oct-09 12:36:24

I don't think you should read too much into one throw away comment like that.

His behavious (and whether or not he supports you through your depression) is a far better indicator of his real understanding of depression.

overmydeadbody Wed 07-Oct-09 12:39:45

Considering the fact that depression is caused by not having enough seratonin in the brain, surely you should take the anti-depressives to restore your seratonin levels to normal?

TheGreatScootini Wed 07-Oct-09 13:06:30

I didnt take mine either when they were prescribed because I googled the side effects and they seemed worse than the depression iyswim.Maybe the depression was not that deep and she felt the risks of the drugs would outweigh the benefits?

My DH hadnt a clue what depression 'meant' and I felt quite lonely because of that.But then if you havent had it why would you know about it really?In an ideal world they would do some research to understand it better.But I think becuase depression isnt physically tangible people just dont think to do that sometimes.

diddl Wed 07-Oct-09 14:01:02

I also think don´t read too much into it.

My husband was recently diagnosed as severely depressed, & I didn´t know how to deal with it at first.

Found myself just about not speaking to him as I was so scared of saying the wrong thing!

littleoldme Wed 07-Oct-09 14:07:46

Try reading Dorothy Rowe -The way out your prison. She's a highly respected psychotherapist and this book has really helped me. It has an excellent chpater on how depression affects the loved ones of the sufferer. I'd say it pretty much saved DH and I .

Incidentally - I took citalopram and it worked wonders for me. Be wary of google.

cestlavielife Wed 07-Oct-09 16:01:36

i read a lot when my exP got depressed but i dont think it helped really...

there was too much other stuff that wasnt explained by depression.

some books focus on "how to be a good carer" - tho depression fallout really gets into how the partner/spouse might be being affected by it. see below.

besides - he just kept saying "dont believe what you read in those books!" (without reading them himself)

in family therapy they talked to him a lot about owning his depression and taking responsibility for it - taking control of it and not just deferring to me to pick him up and sort it all our for him. i've left him now anyway, (cruel as i am) and he still plays the "i am so depressed" "you never supproted me" card any time he can...

i appreciate it can be a real issue but i think some people can wallow a little? as i said, too many other issues too about him... eg violence and agression. he used to justify his behaviour by his depression.

it doesnt sound like you are wallowing tho - you say you have picked yourself up and without ADs too.

and maybe that is what your H means - you have been there and got out of it yourself, so perhaps this lady should be expected to, too.

other books

Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression by Sally Brampton - and she talks a lot about self help and taking responsibility

What to Do When Someone You Love is Depressed (30 April 1998) by Mitch Golant (how to be a good carer)

What to Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed: A Practical, Compassionate, and Helpful Guide by Mitch Golant and Susan K. Golant (Paperback - 7 Aug 2007)

Sarah's Diary: An Unflinchingly Honest Account of One Family's Struggle with Depression by Sarah Griffin (Paperback - 7 Jun 2007) (child/teen's view)

Living with a Black Dog (Paperback)
by Matthew Johnstone (Author) havent read but have seen it recommended

This one i really recommended for the spouse/partner -

How You Can Survive When They're Depressed : Living and Coping with Depression Fallout (Paperback)
by Anne Sheffield

american and weighty but a lot of good stuff in it about the possible affects of depression on the family, partner/husband/wife/ and especially the children -- and how it can be mitigated.

alwayslookingforanswers Wed 07-Oct-09 16:09:48

I had my DH say the same thing to me several years ago when I was going through one of (many) bouts of depression. He didn't know at the time I had it, and I did't venture to tell him.

He really didn't understand it, and sadly with all the stimga attached to it there's very little in terms of education about it so that people who haven't been affected by it themselves understand that it is real.

DH does now understand, sadly only after he's had a severe depression and other mental health problems (the latter hopefully not to be repeated) and I don't think the problems will occur again for us when I no doubt suffer again in the future.

It's strange, because I was going to talk to him tonight about the effects his words had on me (must have been about 5yrs ago now - as DS2 is nearly 6). It hurt like hell, and I never told him how much it hurt, how real it was etc etc. Instead chose to deal with it on my own and only confide in friends.

tbh I'm not sure I have any words of advice for you, I know how hard it is when someone doesn't "get" depression, but my DH has only come to an understanding of it having now suffered himself from it.

On the AD discussion, the 2 times I have taken AD's when I've had depression they've certainly helped, and DH is on some pretty strong stuff right now and they're working for him too.

MorrisZapp Wed 07-Oct-09 16:31:36

The problem is that depression has two meanings - the conversational one ie 'oh god this weather makes you depressed doesn't it' and the clinical one.

Most people feel down at some point and so they don't see depression as an illness, they think it's just a sad or bummed out feeling which passes in time.

Clinical depression is v hard to understand from the outside, also if you didn't want the medication I suppose he might have thought it isn't a 'real' illness ifswim.

I agree that actions speak louder then words - if he was supportive throughout your episode then that matters much more then a throwaway comment.

Sunfleurs Wed 07-Oct-09 17:00:14

My ex has said to me recently (I have anxiety and had panic disorder):-

You are just lazy
You are a hypochondriac
If I am going to take a week off to look after the kids while you go onto the AD's (I was terrified of taking them) then I will need you to be honest about how it effects you and not put it on just to make me have to stay with the dc.
Also told me I couldn't go to the doctors about it as they would get social services involved and the dc would be taken into care.

It was all about thinking positively apparently.

littleoldme I am about to go on Citalopram and I am absolutely terrified, to the point where I have a panic attack if I even look at the prescription, please can you tell me your experience because it sounds positive. If you don't want to put it on here could you email me at I would be so grateful.

Elk Wed 07-Oct-09 17:16:08

I took citalopram and I believe it was the best decision I have ever made. Before I took it I was in a really bad way, I can't even describe it. It was as if my negative emotions were the only bit left of me. I knew I was supposed to be doing things, eg getting the children dressed/fed but I couldn't work out what to do so I just wandered around the house or sat rocking gently. Withing a few days off taking the first tablet I felt as if all that had been walled off from me. It did feel wierd, I told a friend at the time that I felt as if I was watching life from behind some triple glazing. However, it was such a relief compared to how I was before that I didn't mind. Slowly that feeling disappeared and I just felt normal and that I was actually living my life instead of barely getting by.

I have just come off them after being on them for 3.5 years. This was longer than I expected as I did have a few problems coming off them but I have no regrets and would make the decision again.


Sunfleurs Wed 07-Oct-09 17:24:06

Yes that helps A ALOT! Thank you. I know I need to take them but I am utterly terrified and I don't really know why. I am just frightened of being even MORE frightened than I am now once any side effects kick in. I know its ridiculous but I can't seem to be rational about this.

I had a terrible stage about a month ago that went on for a couple of weeks, when I couldn't even leave the house. Everything I thought of or tried to do, even going to the park with dc made me feel utterly terrified. I am not so bad now but am not as I should be. Feel anxious and irritable for quite a lot of the time.

Thank you for that Elk, I think I just have to bite the bullet and go for it.

Cheryllou Wed 07-Oct-09 17:32:52

Hi Sunfleurs,

I have been taking citalpram for about 6 months now, and I really think it is the only thing (kids aside) that has stopped me going loopy. I've always been up and down, and had PND after my first baby, but since taking the drugs feel much more positive. The side effects are only 'possible' and although you feel a bit odd the first couple of weeks, you really wouldn't know you were on anything after that. The only way I describe the feeling is that they make me feel more like the me I want to be - I'm not as anxious, not as short tempered with the children, not so jealous of 'other people's perfect lives', a bit more relaxed and more able to pick myself up after knocks - and I have had more than a few these few months let me tell you (divorce upcoming...)

I just think if you had a headache, you'd take a pill, so why not try something that will help you get yourself on track in your head? You'd be surprised how many mums at the school gate are on them. Oooh, I sound like a drug pusher...

As for the ununderstanding husband above, I really don't think you should worry. Men and women see things very differently and it's actions not words that count. If you 'do' get depression again, cross that bridge when you come to it and look at ways in which you can look after yourself instead of worrying how your husband will cope. We all have different ways of coping with life, and your husband probably isn't such a deep thinker as you. But he sounds lovely, so cherish him for his good points and perhaps explain to him that,while you don't want to make a big deal out of it, that comment concerned you.

As for worrying about how he will cope in the future, forget about it. In my experience it is the things you don't see coming that get you rather than the things you spend hours worrying over.

RE above, I might be speaking out of line, but if you feel you are overly anxious, don't dismiss the ADs - you want to be enjoying your time with your little ones, not stressing about what 'might' happen. Good luck anyway. x

GrendelsMum Wed 07-Oct-09 17:39:43

HI Sunfleurs

I took ADs, and was very worried about the side-effects. It was absolutely brilliant - it actually put me on this instant high (literally within about 12 hours) which lasted for about a week (loved that bit!), and then I returned to being my normal self. I had no problems coming off them either. The doctor was slightly unnerved by quite how well they worked for me - I went from gibbering wreck to super-bouncy, competent, confident person in about 24 hours. I'd never hesitate to take them again.

MedusaHead Wed 07-Oct-09 17:52:28

Bugger I have just written a long post and pressed something and it disappeared. Anyway, the gist of it was I was on Citalopram for a year and it was a godsend. It evened me out and made the anxiety drop to a level that I could cope with on a day to day basis.

My DH was not very supportive at first and suggested I "pull myself together". Also on finding out I had PND a close friend said "Oh, I'm sure I've got that as well with all the problems I have. I just don't have time to be depressed at the moment". Thanks for that hmm

SemperEadem Wed 07-Oct-09 18:04:49

Sunfleurs - I have taken them too and don't regret it one bit. They put me back together again. I was on them for about 8 months though I did take a newer version called escitalopram. No side effects aside frem headaches, weight loss and maybe a slight loss of libido.

I did notice when I stopped taking them that I became more emotional again and I don't mean in a bad way more empathetic. I think the citalopram slightly 'numbed me' to other peoples pain. Not in an overly noticeable way so as I wasn't aware of others' feelings but I didn't feel as emotional over soppy films etc. My GP advised me to take half a tablet a day for the first few days. HTH [SMILE]

SemperEadem Wed 07-Oct-09 18:06:26

Doh! I meant smile

Sunfleurs Wed 07-Oct-09 18:25:14

Thank you all so much for responding to me. I do feel a lot better about taking them, although I am sure I will come screaming onto MN tommorrow when I take my first tablet.

From what you all say, I think this is what I need, a bit of emotional numbness to get some things done. I can't seem to keep my pig of an ex at arms length (have posted about him here many times) and he still seems to find a way to hurt and needle me. Unfortunately I have no family or much RL support where I live so I have to depend on him quite alot when I feel bad. I hate having to depend on someone who has crapped on me so extensively and is so unsympathetic to me.

Believe it or not I took an AD (Venlefaxine) 8 years ago and it really helped me. Unfortunately I felt I needed to go back on them a couple of years later took one tablet and had a massive panic attack immediately afterwards, which put me off taking them anymore. Even at that time the panic disorder and depression I felt was absolutely NOTHING compared to what I have been going through for the past two months so I know an effective AD would help if I can just bring myself to put the blardy thing in my mouth!

Thank you so, so much for all your reassuring messages, I will let you know how I get on. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunfleurs Wed 07-Oct-09 18:31:02

Sorry have hijacked your thread OP. Have found it incredibly helpful though.

littleoldme Thu 08-Oct-09 17:16:49

Sun - When I my last bout of depression I was in right mess. I had counselling which really helped and was able to leave the terrible job which was a big contributing factor.
I started to feel better but then began having panic attacks again. I felt like I was on the edge of thigs getting bad. Because of the counselling I had enough perspective to realise that 1) I could only ask DH to support through illness again if I did everything humanly possible to make self better - it had been very tough on him - a fact I didn;t fully appreciate at the time. and 2) Nothing external was making me panic- it was my thoughts and habits of thought.

The citalopram helped me calm down enough to deal with the issues and break the downward spiral. They worked wonders for me and I was I had taken them years before. I dis have a few days of a dodgy tummy when I started taking them but apart form that all was well.

mathanxiety Thu 08-Oct-09 18:41:06

I think the issue of PND is a real puzzle for men, partly because they tend not to get it themselves. There's an element of misogyny in the attitude of some towards it, probably unconscious and not malicious, and probably an offshoot of their family culture, what they absorbed while growing up about expected behaviour of women, women's weakness, fickleness, lack of gratitude or appreciation for men and all they do to make a woman's life better -- this one is possibly why your DH thinks the well-off woman with PND that you know should consider herself lucky and get over herself. In his mind, some man has done a lot for this woman and why is she therefore feeling so bad at such a happy time? Says something about male insecurity, imo.

OrmIrian Thu 08-Oct-09 18:46:36

My DH also fails to understand. Which is all the more frustating as he was on Prozac and had counselling when his father was dying. But he thinks that's different because there was a 'reason' and he managed to get a grip and 'sort himself out'.


He tries I think but doesn't really understand.

mathanxiety Thu 08-Oct-09 19:00:15

My exH thought of depression as some sort of weakness. His family, despite being very well educated (and some were actually medical professionals) shared his view. He and two other family members were eventually diagnosed with depression, in his case many years after his symptoms became plainly obvious, because his ignorant attitude prevented him from 'admitting' he needed help. During those years, it was easier for him to blame me for marriage problems and run our relationship into the ground. His whole family were all very afraid of illness of every kind, and didn't deal with anyone who was ill with any sort of kindness or patience.

SolidGhoulBrass Thu 08-Oct-09 19:28:06

Depression and other mental illnesses are still widely misunderstood. This is partly because there are some people who absolutely milk the idea and fanny around demanding respect for their fragility. It's also partly that if people have dealt with someone who developed reactive depression (ie an obvious trigger such as bereavement, illhealth, trauma of some kind) they might be sympathetic to that but bewildered by endoganous depression (the type that just strikes despite a person's life being free from sorrow or hardship.)
I have also noticed that physical hardship or suffering can sometimes actually alleviate depression or at least push it into the background, so perhaps the ones who always bang on about how they didn;t have time to be depressed when the bombs were falling in 1941 or whatever experienced that effect.
ANyway, OP: Given how supportive your DH has been of you, please don't be upset over this throwaway comment. Particularly if he already thinks this particular woman is a spoilt prima donna or something.

Sunfleurs Thu 08-Oct-09 20:25:53

SolidGhoulBrass - Thank you so much for posting about the different types of depression, in all my manic googling since diagnosis I have not come across those terms. I find it incredibly reassuring to know that I most likely have reactive depression and it is likely to lift once the stressor is removed. I feel very reassured. Thank you.

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