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“Tell him he doesn’t have to be the lone ranger. Help is out there and recovery is possible.”

Partners are often the first line of defence in the fight against depression. If you are concerned about a man who’s been showing symptoms of depression, you can help.

Find an opportunity to sit down with your partner and have a talk about how he’s doing. It can be tough, but having an open dialogue about depression is essential and can actually bring you closer together.

1. Voice your observations

For some guys it’s easier to to start a conversation about specific changes in a guy’s mood or behaviour that you’ve noticed rather than suggesting that he might be depressed.

With other guys a direct approach is best. Start with what you feel comfortable asking and go from there. Let him know he can be honest, and that you only want to help.

You can say:

  • “I noticed you’ve been isolating yourself a lot recently. Has something been wearing you down?
  • “Have you ever thought you might be dealing with depression, a lot of guys don’t talk about it but it’s pretty common?”
  • “What type of thoughts have you been having? Tell me about them – we’ve got time, I’m here to listen.”

2. Normalize the experience

Many guys don’t discuss their emotions or feelings, even with close friends and family. The first step to helping a guy like this is to let him know that getting stressed, or down, or depressed happens to a lot of guys.

Fighting depression doesn’t imply anything about how strong he is. Depression can happen to anyone and it can be overcome – recovery is possible.

3. Make sure he doesn’t try to tough it out on his own

Trying to fight depression on one’s own is incredibly difficult. Recovery is best pursued using a team approach. Often, there are already people in a guy’s life who would happily lend a hand if they only knew how they could help.

In addition to your support, it’s essential that your partner seek professional support and talk to a doctor. Tell him he doesn’t have to be the lone ranger, and that ignoring his symptoms will not help them go away.

Facing depression takes courage. Let your partner know you are proud of him and that you will help him through this.

4. Help him figure out what to say when he meets with his doc

For a lot of guys, talking to a doctor and explaining what is going on can be difficult.

Here are some ways he can get the conversation with his doc started:

  • “I feel like shit these days – I’m too tired to go to work and keep calling in sick because I can’t get out of bed.”
  • “I can’t sleep at all. I keep lying in bed stressed out about making enough money to support my family.”
  • “I don’t want to see my friends anymore, I’m sick of everyone.”
  • “I’m always grumpy and pissed off, I never seem to be myself anymore.”
  • “Sex isn’t interesting me like it used to and it’s getting harder to perform.”
  • “I’ve been gaining (or losing) lots of weight recently.”

Encourage your partner to be honest – talking about this kind of stuff isn’t easy, but it is important. His doctor needs to know all the factors in play so she or he can help.

Next Steps:

For more information on suicide prevention see our Guide to Preventing Suicide and Suicidal Thoughts.

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