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Depression Affects The Entire Family


My husband is 38 yrs old and a law enforcement officer. He has been suffering from depression for at least the past 2 yrs. He was on 4 different anti-depressants, then quit on his own. He just went back to the dr and was put on Paxil. He hides this from me, I believe so I won’t be the enforcer and let him know he shouldn’t use alcohol while on medication. He treats our 2 children like they are unwanted stepchildren. Our daughter is 16 and a model A student, classic overachiever. Our son is 13, has ADHD, but is managed very well w/ Aderall. He is a good person, but wants nothing more than attention from his dad. My son saw a counselor, and indicated he is not the one who should be seeing a counselor. The kids are on to him, and I do not want them growing up thinking his behavior is in any way, shape, or form normal. He refuses to talk about anything with me, works third shift, and chooses to sleep his days away. No involvement with the kids whatsoever, unless forced, and to tell you the truth, the kids would rather not have him come. We are all walking on eggshells, and none of us can do anything right, except him. He is covering up other health issues, such as reflux after eating, with vomiting, and he thinks none of us know. I do not know if there is any hope at this point. Unfortunately, his prescribing MD does not require/prescribe psychotherapy, and has even changed prescriptions over the phone. He is totally unemotional except for rage and anger. Can you give me a little insight as to what I might expect from the Paxil? Is there much hope without him agreeing to therapy?

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Not being a Psychiatrist (a medical doctor who can prescribe medicines), I’m not in a formal position to help you understand what you might expect from Paxil. There are wonderful sources of information on medicines like this all over the net, however (such as this one). More informally, when anti-depressant medicines start working, you generally see a subtle brightening of mood and a greater emotional availability. The patient himself may not notice these changes.

As you know, your husband is very ill, and you’ve got some serious family problems going on as well. Your marriage is not in great shape right at the moment, and your children are probably quite affected by this as well. Generally, the best way to deal with family problems is to involve the entire family in a therapy – Individual treatments aimed solely at your husband will not help the family much by themselves. If it is not possible to get your entire family (including your husband) to get into a family therapy than see if you can’t go without him (!). He has effectively abandoned you emotionally as it stands (if I have read your message correctly) so such a therapy could be a way to work on how to come together as a family in the face of your absent man. At the very least, you ought to consider seeking out supports from others with whom you can share your stresses (e.g., a support group for spouses of patients, friends, relatives, clergy, a therapist or others you can trust).

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