Leslie Carol Botha: Jed Diamond has written another excellent article about male depression. Diamond believes that depression is becoming an increasingly significant problem for men and the women who love them.
Why Is My Husband Depressed and How Do I Help Him?
What we call depression has likely been around before recorded history and has been recognized for thousands of years. Aretaeus of Cappadocia (circa 81-138 AD) is credited with the first clinical description of depression. Hippocrates, the Greek physician of antiquity, was well aware of the disease of depression and called it melancholia. Whatever we call it, depression is becoming an increasingly significant problem for men and the women who love them. Women can be frustrated and wonder why is my husband depressed?
It’s often the woman who first recognizes depression in her mate, even when the man doesn’t see it or is resistant to dealing with it. That was certainly the case for me and my wife.
Getting Through to the Man In Your Life Isn’t Easy
My wife, Carlin, and I walked tentatively into the nicely restored old building to attend the “family weekend.” Our son had been in treatment for a drug problem and we were there to learn and offer support. As part of the weekend experience, all the family members were given various questionnaires to fill out. One was a depression questionnaire. We dutifully filled it out and my wife scored “high” while I scored “low.” Carlin talked to a counselor who suggested that she might want to get evaluated for depression when we returned home.
Driving back we talked and it became clear that Carlin had been feeling depressed for some time. Once home, she saw a doctor, was evaluated, and received treatment. Her life and mine changed for the better. It was like she had come out of a fog. Her joy returned and she became much more fun to be around.
A few months into her treatment, Carlin suggested that I might be depressed as well and wanted me to see her doctor. I promptly refused. “I’m not depressed,” I told her. “If I were I’m sure I’d know it. I’m a therapist and I treat depression. I’d certainly recognize it in myself.” She just gave me a gentle smile. “OK, it was just a suggestion,” she said. “Anyway,” I reminded her, “I took the depression quiz at the treatment center and I scored low.” As far as I was concerned the case was close.
However, there were some disturbing thoughts that would pop into my head. Although I didn’t see myself as “depressed,” I certainly didn’t feel happy. It seemed like the stresses of life kept building up until I wanted to scream, “Leave me alone. I just want some peace!” I find I was often irritable, angry, preoccupied, and withdrawn. But that couldn’t be depression, could it?
I convinced myself that my irritability and anger were justified. “Who wouldn’t be upset with what I have to put up with,” I would call out to anyone who would listen. “I’m stressed out at work, the kids seem to go out of their way to get on my last remaining nerve, and my wife is going through menopause.”