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Depressed Husband

Question:

Several months ago, my husband took a emotional breakdown. This happened just before Christmas time & during work. Since then, he’s been in counseling with a registered psychotherapist. He was diagnosed with depression with anxiety disorders. He’s been improving thanks to psychotherapy. I was told by a colleague of mine who is a former addiction counselor that normally a spouse would also be asked to join in therapy. I have not as of yet been asked. In light of this, what advice can you give me that will enable me to support my husband on his road to recovery? And to understand his depression and anxiety disorder? He has not disclosed a lot of details to me as to why this happened? Thank you for your time.

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  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Don’t sweat it too much that you’ve not been asked to join in psychotherapy. There are different schools of thought regarding how to treat different disorders. The dominant modes for treating depression are largely delivered as individual therapy (e.g., cognitive therapy, psychodynamic therapy). There can be value in viewing depression as a family disorder, but by and large, depression is treated through relationship counseling modes only when marital problems are the primary symptoms. To support your husband, communicate to him that you love him and accept him irregardless of whether or not he sees himself as a failure (and mean it). You can also educate yourself regarding the nature of depression and anxiety by reading books and articles on the Internet. This website would be a good place to start.

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