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Counseling/Depression and Anxiety


Okay, I'm 22, and I am a dance teacher. My fiance, Robert, is 25. He is from Sweden and he moved here with his parents when he was 18. We met at college my first year there and immediately hit it off and started dating. We moved in together when I was 20 and we got engaged about 3 months ago, and I couldn't be more excited to marry my best friend. He is sweet and understanding and he always makes me laugh, but he has a lot of problems with anxiety and depression. He is a graphic designer, so he works from home a lot. Sometimes, he is just fine, and he likes to go out with our friends and have dinner and be social, but he'll have these days where he doesn't want to leave the house because he is so depressed and so anxious. It usually lasts about a week where he'll sort of hibernate and he won't go anywhere. He'll work only from home, and he'll stay up after I go to bed for hours playing video games or watching tv because he has some problems with insomnia when he's depressed.

He has tried a lot of different medications, but he says he doesn't like how they make him feel. He goes to counseling, but it doesn't seem to help him. I don't know what to do for him. My family isn't very understanding about mental illness and they think he's just lazy and that I shouldn't marry him because of his problems, but he isn't lazy at all. He works really hard and makes decent money and unless he's feeling depressed or anxious, we go to the gym together almost every day, and we do the fun things together. We go out to eat and go to the movies and go to the zoo or six flags or something fun on our days off. He isn't what they think he is. But I don't know how to help him. It breaks my heart when he gets into these ruts where he doesn't want to leave the house out of fear and depression. I don't know what to do for him. I just want him to be happy. What can I do? I feel helpless. And please don't be hurtful.

Hi Sara - from your description, this good young man is a "Grown Wounded Child" (GWC) who has inherited psychological wounds from his unaware ancestors. His "moods" are signs of a disabled true Self, which cannot be fixed by medication.

Ask your family members to read and discuss these together with you.

You can best help him by encouraging him to do online "lesson 1" with you- it's free, and is about you and him and healing. See these:

Caution: typical GWCs in denial [vs. recovery] are at high risk of eventual divorce and significant health problems.

Option: show these articles to his counselor.

If either of you have questions about this, please ask!

Compassionately, Pete


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Peter Gerlach, MSW


I can answer questions about mood disorders, depression, suicide, relationships, communication skills, problem solving, clear thinking, bonding disorders, trauma recovery, addiction management, grieving, shame, guilt, fear, reality distortion, and trust disorders; courtship, family functioning, "problem kids," mediation, (re)marriage, divorce, stepfamilies, stepparenting, boundaries, self-neglect, abuse, parental neglect, personality subselves, ("parts work"). I cannot answer legal or medical questions.


I maintained a private therapy practice near Chicago for 27 years, and have worked with over 1,000 men, women, couples, and families on a wide range of personal and family problems. I have been in personal recovery from growing up in an alcoholic family since 1986, and have worked with five therapists to heal my own psychological wounds. I maintained a "warm (phone) line" for callers on the topics above for 20 years, and have taught over 200 seminars and classes in midwestern universities, churches, support groups, and schools since 1981. I have practiced internal-family therapy ("parts work") with trauma-recoverers since 1991.

National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC) Experts Council; Compassion and Choices, and Final Exit Network

# Several hundred articles in my non-profit "Break the Cycle!" Web site at These articles are augmented by over 150 educational YouTube videos .

# six books on childhood-trauma recovery, effective communication, and stepfamily courtship, coparenting, and management.

A bachelors degree in mechanical engineering (BSME, 1959) from Stanford University, a Masters degree in clinical Social Work, (MSW, 1981), and over 500 hours of post-grad training in the topics above - including clinical hypnosis, spirituality, codependence, addicrtion-management, and guided imagery. My post-grad traning includes two 9-month internships on doing internal-family therapy at the University of Illinois.

Awards and Honors
Hundreds of grateful emails and comments from students and clients all over the world.

Past/Present Clients
Over 1,000 average Midwestern-US women, men, couples, and families. A physical disability limits me to doing telephone and Skype counseling now.

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