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Counseling/Fiance's depression and anxiety

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Question
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.

Answer
Hi Sara,

Sorry to hear your family does not understand mental illness.  It may be more helpful for you not to talk to them about mental illness and your husband anymore.  It is too bad the general public does not understand depression.  I've heard so many things from those who do not understand such as: lazy, start walking and/or jogging, get out of the house more, stay busy, etc.  So just eliminate  the subject of depreession when around your parents.  

Has your husband ever been assessed by a psychiatrist?  I prefer psychiatrists over MDs because Psychiatrists have more years of study about the human brain, its chemicals and how they can change moods, cause various forms of depression, hormones, etc.  If he has not seen a psychiatrist, suggest that he goes for a full assessment.  If your husband feels better not taking medications, tell him to let the psychiatrist know that. Also a list of what he felt may have worked, what made him feel worse, etc. There are many people whose brain chemistry does resist some medications or the meds work the opposite and make one feel more depressed.

You sound very supportive of him and what he is going through.  You two are doing good things together such as gym, movies, etc and enjoy fun together.

Some depressions, if not treated, get worse with time.  Every ones' chemistry is different.

A great website to learn more about depression and mood disorders is "depression central.
Dr. Ivan Goldberg put this excellent cite together and maybe your husband may be interested in it too.

Hope this can help you somewhat. You are so sincere in wanting to help your husband.

Take care,

Dr. Pat

Counseling

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Patricia A. Schafer, Ph.D.

Expertise

I specialize in various forms of depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and also stress, phobias, life changes, grief, women's issues, men's issues, etc. My licenses are: Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor -Supervisor(LPCC-S) and Licensed Professional Chemical Dependency Counselor (LICDC) in the state of Ohio and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).

Experience

12 years experience. I counsel substance abusers, families of alcoholics/drug addictions, and codependency issues. I also specialize in social phobia; stress; anxieties; women`s issues; grief and adjustments to life changes. Some therapeutic techniques used are: CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), DBT (Dialectical Behaviorial Therapy)REBT (Rational Emotive), SFT (Solution Focused) and 12-Step, etc. If you live in the Cleveland area, you can contact me at my office for an appointment at: 440-349-4521. I am on various insurance panels and EAP programs.

Organizations
ACA, OCA, NCOCA, OMHCA

Publications
Experiences of prejudice among individuals in African American and Caucasian Interracial Marriages: A Q-methodological Study (Doctoral Dissertation - December 2008; Wilsnack and Beckman's book: Alcohol Problems in Women (1984). Alcohol use and marital violence: Female and Male Differences in reactions to alcohol(pages 260-279.

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. In counseling MA In Counseling BS In Psychology

Awards and Honors
Previous president of NCOCA (North Central Ohio Counseling Association); previous president of Chi Sigma Iota. Two years VISTA volunteer on Navajo reservation in Inscription House and Shonto.

Past/Present Clients
Do to HIPAA privacy laws, I do not release any info about my client.

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