I am a mental health professional and a marriage counselor, and I have a problem I cannot solve! I’ve been married 20 years and have four children, ages 10 and under. My husband believes he has Attention Deficit Disorder (although I question that), so he has been taking two medications in combination. The meds were prescribed by a psychiatrist. Since he went on the medications his personality changed drastically, with him becoming aggressive, insensitive, critical, and psychopathic, after having been a kind, gentle man of high integrity. He has become rageful and violent at times. I have contacted his psychiatrist by phone to report all this, but the psychiatrist would not respond to me, and my husband just tells him (and everyone else) that he is fine, and that I am the problem! I have tried to get help from his family, my family, and our family doctor. Even though I have honestly reported the many destructive behaviors my husband has shown since starting this medication (it’s been about 4 months now), people are hesitant to just say to him, “get off the medications!” Yet, from past experience and my own expertise as a marriage therapist and mental health professional, I know that my husband will not change this behavior pattern until he gets off these medications. He has always had a problem with employment, taking responsibility, and looking honestly at himself. He also tends to blame me for any problems we have — which is exactly what he’s doing now. Yet, I love him, and am dedicated to our marriage. Any suggestions?
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- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Even a relatively healthy marriage like your own can suffer sometimes, when interfered with by an outsider. In this case, it sounds as if his prescribing psychiatrist is very close-minded and unwilling to take responsibility for his actions. This is too bad, because we like to hear about the ethical, helpful doctors in the world, but all too often we hear only about cretins like this guy who won’t even listen to his patient’s wife’s cries for help! You’ve tried everything, now it’s time to give up, right? Nah, I didn’t think so. How about this… Everyone sees how your husband’s behavior has changed except himself and his psychiatrist, right? So what if his psychiatrist gets bombarded by 5 or 6 phone calls in one day from concerned family members and friends who you collaborate with to call? Since nobody is willing to stand up to your husband and call him on his behaviors, maybe it’s time to stand up to his psychiatrist and get him to re-examine his judgment with regards to your husband. The other choice, as I see it, is to get everyone to call your husband on his behaviors, starting now. You have to be careful, though, to frame everything as not blaming him or the medications or his behaviors… But rather as concerns about the change they’ve all noticed lately, and how badly it has made them feel to be around him. He has to understand that it’s not him per se’ (although it very well may be at least partially him), but rather his odd behaviors brought about by his medications. This is a tricky thing to do right, since it will be easy for him to take things the wrong way. But at this point, I don’t see a lot of other choices for the two of you. If you’re not comfortable with either choice, try to convince him to attend couples counseling for the two of you. As I mentioned to the first writer in this column, spouses often find the idea of couples counseling less scary and threatening than the idea something is wrong only with them. All good relationships, even healthy ones, deserve some couples therapy — it can really help open up the lines of communication and allow each other to understand one another much better. Sincerely, – Anne