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Hello,

I hope you can help. My wife has been depressed lately after issues relating to past sexual abuse resurfaced. Since all of this happened, we have moved house and I've started a new job but my wife has been unemployed for eight months now. This was fine since we were hoping to start a family, but rather than looking to the future she has only sunk in deeper. 

It is much more serious than either of us initially wanted to acknowledge, I think. She does nothing all day, sleeping a lot and playing computer games. One thing we both truly struggle with is the forgetfulness. She won't remember I asked her to do grocery shopping or make a phone call, or even a conversation we had the night before sometimes. It is genuinely gone, she is not making excuses. Now I read on the web that depression does cause memory issues. 

There is also a distinct lack of concentration. Related to the memory problems I think. I might be saying something and she is somewhere else. 

Is there any way to fix this? We are both desperate at this point. 

Thank you. 

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I would look at the bigger picture. 

You think your wife's concentration and memory issues are caused by depression. You want them to stop, you want to look at ways to make the depression stop. And it sounds like both of you are in a very bad place right now, a place that has made your relationship unstable as well. 

I know it's hard to reach out for a helping hand, but you need to. Please convince your wife that it's time to see a therapist. There are different therapeutic techniques, and some people get better with talk therapy alone depending on the severity of their depression. Otherwise, antidepressant medications help millions of people feel better. 

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I know what you mean. I suffered from postpartum depression and I was unable to concentrate on even the most basic tasks and often couldn't remember things. I asked my therapist about it and she explained that everything would get better in time, I could not just make this one thing better in isolation. Writing things down helped me, but I was on antidepressants for six months and had therapy, and that was what really lifted me out of the fog. And it really was a fog in which everything blurred together. I'm so glad for the therapy I had especially. Things did get better in time.
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I agree with you completely. The diagnostic criteria for major depression are just that... they are symptoms, not problems that occur in isolation! The way to improve any of the symptoms of major depression is treating the depression itself, not the individual symptoms of it.

Supporting a loved one, especially a partner, with major depression is one of the hardest things you can do in a relationship. My partner has OCD so I get it. There are days when I want to run away, I promise you, but I love him and I chose this, and he deserves and need all the support he can get.

On that note, even before your wife might be ready to attend therapy herself, would you consider going to a support group for relatives? It has helped me immensely.
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Hey,

I am so sorry your wife and you are going through this. 

How is your wife with social situations in general? Would joining a peer support group for depression or a psychodrama group (family constellations therapy) perhaps be a less daunting first step for her than seeing a therapist? You could both go together, and she might feel safer that way, plus if needed, people there will certainly suggest therapists they are seeing or gently recommend that she does seek additional help. She may also come to see that herself if she does not feel better after a while. 

In my experience, it might be counterproductive to force/push someone who is not quite ready for therapy into seeing a psychologist, no matter how much they need them. The will to see someone needs to come from the person him/herself. 

Rosie

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One thing I did want to suggest quickly was Omega 3 fatty acids. I recently read somewhere that these can help people suffering from mild to moderate depression feel better. They are just a nutritional supplement so I would think your wife would not be adverse to taking them. You could start taking them too; they are good for the brain and do increase concentration and memory, which is of course what you asked about, but more importantly they may do something to improve the symptoms of your wife's depression. 

I will look for some more natural supplements that might be able to help and post here again when I find them. 

Rosie

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All that you mention sounds very familiar to me as someone with depression myself. I will say to you that antidepressants have made things a whole lot better despite occasional problems still. I went from being desperate and essentially nothing more than taking up air to being so much better though, and I couldn't have done it without the antidepressants. Perhaps sharing this story with your wife could help her understand that yes, antidepressants can be a lifesaver and since taking them I have been able to do chores, drive, cook, get out the house...

Suffering like that is a terrible thing and the important thing to understand is that while antidepressants don't solve everything at once and not every antidepressant will work for you (I am on Cymbalta now) they are sometimes necessary and nothing to shy away from.
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Yes. Antidepressants improve mood, sleep, appetite, the physical symptoms of depression, and concentration and memory as well. Google it if you do not believe me. Antidepressants, together with psychotherapy, are really THE WAY to go to lift someone out of depression. Both will help, in combination, fix the brain issues that caused the depression and help replace unhealthy thinking patterns with more healthy ones. As treatment progresses, everything will change.

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If there was a "yeah, that" emoticon here, I'd use it. :)

Depression is so often seen as an illness of either the "brain" (chemical imbalances) or the "mind" (that is harder to define, isn't it?), but I think there is a much greater connection between body and mind than modern society tends to recognize. You have to take care of your body to take care of your mind, and take care of your mind to take care of your body.

When your leg is run over by a car, you can't fix blood flowing out in one place by sticking a bandaid on that spot. Or you can, but it would be pointless because blood would still be coming out elsewhere, and that is before we even get to the broken bones, infection potential, etc. The whole thing needs to be fixed, systemically. Depression is the same. You can't put bandaids on isolated places. You have to take a whole-person approach. And inside that whole-person approach, there is room for all kinds of things, from relaxation techniques to herbal remedies, to learning to get outside and do things again, and even things like acupuncture and massage. And then, of course, therapy and antidepressants. Whatever you do will be to address everything though, not one aspect.
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I would agree with both of these last comments.

Yes, mind and body are closely related and yes, antidepressants are currently the best thing we know we have to treat major depression.

Where does that leave you? You can do both, both antidepressants and mainstream therapy, AND other physical and mental things that may reduce the severity of depression. If a person isn't willing to go into therapy and on antidepressants right now though, then what do you do, as a loved one? That is hard. I have dealt with this myself. Sometimes, people will completely shut down if you suggest they see a psychiatrist yet listen carefully if you suggest they attend yoga classes or take a nutritional supplement, or run a mile a day, or force themselves to interact with at least one person outside their personal circle each day.

In that case, it's better that they do at least those things than to do nothing at all, no? It's hard. There's a difficult balance there. How to get your loved one into treatment they may not be ready for/don't think they need/don't think they could possibly benefit from? You can't do that with a heavy hand, not without consequences anyway.

Rosie
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