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Our doctor is trying to find the right med that will help him sleep and help with the depression and is monitoring him. My husband (77 yo) is the last survivor in his immediate family which has greatly affected him. He wouldn't allow himself to grieve when he lost his brother last spring. To make things worse, he has seasonal affective disorder, so gets depressed once late fall/winter arrive. The two together are really taking a toll on him. There are days when he will hardly open his eyes. But, then, there are days when is pretty good - maybe one day a week. I try to do as much for him as I can, but I wonder if I'm really just enabling his depression. It's very frustrating and sometimes I just want to yell "get up," "move," "do something," but I know that won't help and could make him worse. Our doctor tried to get him to "commit" to doing three things between now and when she sees him in a month, but he wouldn't. He used to work with troubled people so knows about techniques he's using an says "he won't fall for that." I try to get him to go outside every day, but some days it takes hours. Any advice on how I can help him through this?

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You all have such good thoughts, advice and ideas on how to handle his depression. He's been depressed every winter with SAD, but never this bad. I really feel the loss of his brother is adding to it this year. Thank you all for you help and advice!
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My Dh has suffered from anxiety/depression for YEARS . He only started seeing a psych doc after I offered him a divorce....he simply did nothing but go to work and then sleep, hundreds of hours a week. Every w/e was begun by going to bed at 7 pm and he'd not really get up until Monday, sometimes Tues. He eats dinner at night and is in bed and asleep by 7 pm. Sleeps a good 14 hours most nights, weekends, he never really gets up at all.

He has been on Zoloft, which has helped. Sadly, the therapist who was working with him graduated, and he felt like he was "fine".

I also have been known to stand at the foot of his bed and either weep until I am dehydrated or yell at him to GET UP.

Nothing interests him but political talk shows and eating. We have no life together. We got somewhere and he sits down and falls asleep.

His depression is rooted in a severely abusive childhood--he feels worthless (Thanks, MIL) and although he is a brilliant and amazing engineer, as a 'person' he is sad and withdrawn.

Sadly, I have simply given up on him ever changing. He doesn't WANT to, nothing encourages him to be up, nothing he used to like to do, he can do.

It's really very sad. He did much better with the counselor but he refuses another one. Says he doesn't have any time for it.

For YEARS I enabled him by actually bringing him all his meals in bed. (Yes, I am an idiot). Finally, after he had 2 massive heart attacks, his cardiac doc told him to GET UP, SIT UP, STAY UP, whether he 'felt' like it or not. He sorta followed that, but his weight is back to where he was when he had the heart attacks. And he gets zero exercise.

If I try to talk to him, he literally puts a pillow over his head and won't listen.
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DiPapp Jan 4, 2020
You're not an idiot Midkid - just a wife who loves her husband! Keep talking, even if he puts the pillow over his head. You said he feels worthless ... what if - some how - you got him to volunteer with you someplace? Does he like animals? Maybe a shelter. Homeless shelter or food bank? Perhaps tell him you NEED his help with something - even something little - and build on that? I wish you well!
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Motivation! I've tried - even bought him two courses on military history, which he usually enjoyed, but he won't look at them. Says he will when he feels better! I'll have to focus on the positive things in each day! Thank you!
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Depression is not a choice. If it were, who would choose such a thing?

Old age is not a 'curse' and something to be validly depressed about, as some here continuously suggest.

Your husband doesn't need a lecture about anything, either, in my opinion. Again, he's not depressed on 'purpose'.

What he needs is medication to help him process this illness, a therapist/counselor to help him process his feelings, and a loving wife to allow him the time & space to get past this time in his life. A grief counseling group would be a good idea as well. If you can't get him to go out, try purchasing a book about grief; I recommend anything by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who is excellent.

Everything in life is temporary. Good times fade and bad times fade. It can take quite a while for the right medication doses to be honed in on and to start working. Give it time.

I don't believe you are 'enabling' your husband in any way here...........what you are doing is dealing with this situation to the best of your ability.

You may want to try getting some light bulbs to help with the SAD issue, if you haven't already. Google it.

In the meantime, get on with YOUR life so you don't fall into a depression yourself. Be sure to get out for a while every day and have coffee with a friend and do things just for YOU.

Wishing you the best of luck and sending you a big hug, too.
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DiPapp Jan 4, 2020
Thanks so much lealonnie1! I just ordered a circadian light and can't wait for it to arrive - I hope it helps! I know he won't see a counselor - we tried that years ago for something else, and he wouldn't stick with it. I'll keep trying to get him to talk about it with me and our PCP. Thanks for your good wishes and the big hug!
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Me, I don't believe in enabling people. Maybe because Mom waited on my Dad hand and foot. Then he went on SS disability, for heart, at 52 and he was there all day long. When they were approaching 80 she asked him when she was going to retire. He said never. My husband is the reverse of my Dad. So glad Dad went before Mom because I would not have done for him what Mom did.

Like Tothill said depression is not a choice. Its a chemical imbalance in the brain, I think. I have heard that exercise is good for depression. I would assume he has had all the labs to rule out hormones, Thyroid and potassium levels. I guess its finding the right mix of meds. And I understand the "winter" thing. When the Sun goes down so do I.

Maybe see if there is a support group near you. Or find a forum that deals in just depression.
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anonymous912123 Jan 3, 2020
I had to smile when I read your post...my grandmother always said "A man retires, but a woman never does"! In some circumstances this is truth!
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Is he taking the meds the doctor prescribed? If he claims he is, can you confirm it. I have found that some people say they are taking meds, but, they don't. I would report what you are witnessing to his doctor, as it might not be wise to wait a month to see a doctor again. Is he seeing a psychiatrist? As you know, depression can be very serious. I'd definitely share your concerns with his doctor and get more guidance. I'm not sure it's the kind of thing that you can just will yourself to feel better because you want to. I hope he gets better soon.
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DiPapp Jan 4, 2020
Thanks Sunnygirl1. Yes, he is taking the meds as I sit with him when he does. Our dr. is so good and knows him well - also knows a psychiatrist is out of the question with him. She spends time with him and is calling weekly to check in.
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If his behavior is only because he is depressed and not due to his own immobility or disease's then you are enabling him by catering to his needs.

Get up and get dressed dear hubby breakfast will be on the table in 15 minutes. I need you to go to the grocery store with me and we are leaving in an hour, so you have time for a hot shower, let's go.

I would also ask him if he thought that his family would feel honored that he has given up on living because they died. The best way we can honor our dead loved ones is to live a life filled with joy and purpose. Just because you are aging and other family members have gone on doesn't mean that you have to be depressed all the time. Life is full of ups and downs, we find happiness where and when we can.
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Tothill Jan 3, 2020
Isthisrealyreal, I do not think you have a good grasp on depression. It is a medical condition. It is a real terrible condition to live with.

How on earth is asking him if the dead would be honoured by his depression going to help?

"Just because you are aging and other family members have gone on doesn't mean that you have to be depressed all the time. Life is full of ups and downs, we find happiness where and when we can."

Depression is not a choice. He does not get up and decide he will not find happiness on a particular day.

You usually have great advice, but I suspect you have not personally suffered from SAD or clinical depression. And I truly hope you never have to deal with someone trying to guilt you out of it.
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My husband had cancer and then dementia was added to the mix, the first year he was really depressed, we lived in a townhouse with a finished basement, he would sit in the dark in the basement most all day.

I had to figure something out, so we moved, I bought a home with a yard, that helped immensely, as he loved to garden...and it had no basement to hide in!

Perhaps you can try to dig back into what he had enjoyed doing and play that forward, for some it is working jigsaw puzzles, going to the gym, senior daycare or?

The other thing I noticed when I assigned him some chores he felt useful, also I did not wait on him hand and foot, didn't before, didn't after.
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DiPapp Jan 4, 2020
Great ideas and advice, DollyMe! He loves the beach, maybe I can convince him to take a ride on a nice day - even if it is winter!
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Encourage him to speak to you about his feelings. The end of life, the losses, because really it IS depressing, and it is real and honest to see that these losses will go on now. There isn't a lot of upside. Is the doc willing to try mild anti-depression medications. They are of great help to some. Moving will help. A walk now and then will help. Try to interest him in something, even puzzles, to give the mind a kind of zen place to go to where it can relax. So sorry you are both going through this.
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Isthisrealyreal Jan 3, 2020
Sorry, I so disagree with your doom and gloom. Everyday that you wake up breathing is an upside.
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