Curing My Wife's Depression


Based on email from a husband.

With comments by Dr. Weston. 

" I was afraid to come home after work for fear I would find her dead. I called her several times a day just to make sure she was okay. "


     I researched depression on the Web and found your site. 

Although they were not at all what I expected, the women were just like my wife, Rowena -- depressed, a bit "out of it" on prescription medications, and suicidal.

I had suggested that Rowena talk to a therapist (She said, "I'm not crazy, I just get 'down' sometimes."), joining clubs and organizations ("I don't have the energy for that."), or visiting her family ("You know my mother drives me nuts."), etc. etc.

I couldn't get her out of the house ("I'd prefer to stay here." Dishes and laundry were piling up and she didn't even return phone calls from her friends, "I guess I just bring them down.")

" Those who haven't experienced real depression or lived with someone with severe depression can't really understand.

...It doesn't make sense -- especially when it seems that the person has all kinds of opportunities 'to pull themselves out of it.'  But it doesn't work that way."


It was getting so that I was afraid to come home after work for fear I would find her dead. Fact is, I felt I had to call her several times a day just to make sure she was okay.

     In one article on your site the wife was energized by the attention of other men. That rang a bell; my wife used to date a lot and she called them, "The fun times."

She was openly questioning whether life was worth it.

She had been a bit of a news junkie, but now she didn't care. If the world would have blew up -- she would have probably welcomed it.

         Finally, I did the thing I thought I would never do, I contacted a guy that she used to have a "thing for."  I was jealous of him, but my wife needed help, and as far as I was concerned these were desperate times.

We met in a coffee shop and he soon asked "How's Rowena?"

I said, "Not good," and then I reluctantly explained things -- even though it made me look bad as a failure as a husband. To his credit, he just mentioned some articles about how women in general these days weren't happy. 

I said, "I guess you know she used to have a thing for you."

He was silent for a while. 

" It seemed as if he had shifted gears from the braggadocio guy I had known. Maybe a couple divorces did that, or maybe he was growing up. "


II was admitting defeat and maybe even risking my marriage.  Swallowed my pride and said, "Why don't you invite her out, get her to have some fun."

He said, "Didn't you used to be rather jealous -- just about punched me out one time as I remember?"

 We went through several cups of coffee and I won't go into the plan we devised -- it was intricate and I might even say ingenious -- but the end result was that they would be working on a project together. 

We set up so things couldn't be traced back to me.

 " I had openly tried everything with consistent failure, and if she knew I was behind this, it wouldn't work. "


 The first few times they met I saw an improvement, but soon she said she didn't want to continue with the project they had been working on. She had discovered he was a bit of a blowhard and she said he was getting on her nerves. (She may have been depressed, but not stupid!)

Then I had another meeting with the guy over coffee. (I had explained all this to one man and I didn't want to start over with another.)

Rowina was clearly losing interest in him and this time he was the one that was failing.  Even so, I mentioned how things had briefly improved. I said, "Find her a guy or guys who are smart, will drool over her, will seduce her, and tell them she puts out."

His response was, "You're crazy!"

I said, "She's sliding backwards again and it will be better than the alternative."

"But what if she starts really liking one of the guys?"

"I would rather have her happy with someone else than...." I didn't finish the sentence.

" I could tell that this kind of love and commitment was far beyond his comprehension. "


 A new and better plan was put into action (very long story) and over the next few months Rowena started meeting guys. We started the rumor that she "put out." That kept them interested.

Soon, she ended up in bed with one of them.

I could tell right away by her attitude change, but she didn't admit it for a while. Then we had this long talk and I said now that she had crossed that bridge and that was okay, but, I didn't want her getting hung up on just one guy.

" She started paying attention to her looks again and seemed to have a new zest for life. "


Now she has regular dates with men.  They take her places, sometimes over weekends, they regularly end up in bed (which keeps them interested), and she has yet to slip back into that funk she had been in. 

 Dr. Weston replies:

Although I'll let the word "curing" in your letter  pass, this kind of "solution" could backfire with women that have strong conservative upbringings and lead to even deeper depression. Guilt and a sense of personal failure are often underlying components of depression. 

Often, suicide, or thoughts of suicide are also  associated with the medications. In fact, many of these medications warn (in a fine print legal disclaimer) that the medication can increase the possibility of suicide.

Although therapy coupled with anti-depressant medication would be my first suggestion,  you say in your initial lengthy letter that this isn't an option. 

Strong diversion (often necessary to sidetrack depression) coupled with a badly needed ego boost might temporally work with certain individuals.

Sometimes that's enough to get the person back on more stable personal ground; but, again, with certain individuals it can also make the situation worse.  

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