Dear therapist, my husband doesn't take it seriously when I say I’m depressed. How should I deal with this?
Frame Therapist, Ileana Arganda-Stevens weighs in...
First, I just want to say it is so hard when the people closest to us don’t take us seriously. This is especially difficult when we’re struggling and in need of support. With depression, we might already have a hard time reaching out for help and when the person we’re reaching out to doesn’t believe us, it just adds to our stress.
So what do we do?
Let’s start with you. I really want to encourage you to seek out the help you need regardless of whether or not your husband believes you. You are the expert on your personal experience and your needs. If you need a therapist or would like to try group therapy, you don’t need permission to do so. If cost is a factor, try dialing 211 (this is a nation-wide information source for community services) and let them know you’d like to be connected to affordable mental health care in your area.
Based on your question, it sounds like you’ve been trying to tell your husband what is wrong and that you need support. I want to emphasize that while I think it’s important to communicate about your needs, the other person is responsible for what they do with the information you give them. All you can do is be clear. You may have heard the term “I” Statements before. This is a way of saying things that focuses on clearly stating how you feel and what you need and it tends to reduce defensiveness in others. For you, an “I” statement might look like, “When you tell me you don’t believe I’m depressed, I feel hurt and lonely. I really need your support.”
Finally, I want to say that some people need time to better understand what we’re going through. They might feel defensive, like you’re struggling because they’re doing something wrong or they’re not a good partner. Unfortunately, sometimes our needs compete with our partner’s needs and we struggle to support one another. This can result in both people feeling a certain amount of resentment. Individual therapy may benefit both partners as it can help us to get support, improve our understanding of our needs, and improve our ability to advocate for ourselves. If there continues to be difficulties in the relationship, couples therapy might be something to consider in the future.
To recap, remember…
- Seek out professional support
- Know you are not responsible for other’s reactions
- Use “I statements” to communicate feelings
- Create space for processing over time
For now, focus on you and finding the support you need. Remember, you are the expert on your experience.
About the Author: Ileana Arganda-Stevens is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT) who works at a group practice in Sacramento. Ileana specializes in working with women (20’s-40’s) who struggle with depression, anxiety, childhood emotional neglect (CEN), self-care, and boundary setting. Ileana is passionate about helping these women learn to prioritize themselves and grow their self-compassion. If you’d like to learn more or get in touch, please visit her Frame profile here.
Welcome to our content series "Ask a Therapist" featuring real user-submitted questions, and the follow-up answers from Frame Therapists. We believe that everyone can benefit from hearing how people, just like them, get through their struggles, learn and grow.
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