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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do you get someone with depression to seek help?

    I have tried to get my partner to see a GP about his depression but he refuses to! He is becoming more and more withdrawn to the point I think of tricking him into seeing a GP. He probably would hate me for doing it but it's getting beyond a joke! I haven't hit anyone else to talk to about this!
    I have tried talking to him, telling him I've jotuced changes etc hut he tells me to leave him alone and that I don't know what I'm talking about
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    Alana Howells

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    I am an experienced clinical psychologist who works across the lifespan, with children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. My current focus is on longer-term psychotherapy … View Profile

    This is a common issue and can cause many problems, not just for the person who is not willing to seek help but for their partner. While your partner cannot be forced to seek help for himself, there are some other options.

    Firstly, as the partner of someone who seems depressed, you may wish to seek individual counselling. This could provide you with support, a space to discuss your feelings, and coping strategies. The counsellor may also be able to help you work out strategies to support your partner and encourage him to seek help.

    Other option is couple therapy. Some partners are unwilling to seek help for themselves, but may be willing to seek counselling to work on their relationship. If your partner agrees to this, you and your partner could be supported by a couple therapist to explore issues such as communication, and ways that you can improve this.

  • 2


    Dr Alan Keen

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Adult, adolescent and child mental health issues View Profile

    That's a good question and a commonly cited problem. Many people who suffer from depression lose their motivation to seek help. It's unfortunate but it's reality. That's why most psychologists probably run 1 or 2 patients in motivational interviewing just to motivate the individual to be engaged in psychotherapy. Obviously the person who suffers the symptoms is aware of his or her problems, but the point is that because of the symptoms of depression, she or he is in that stage of despair that she can't motivate herself to seek help. It's a catch-22. One of the symptoms of depression is lack of motivation and because of this lack of motivation we don't go to seek help.

    I would say probably the best option is for you to motivate your partner to see a psychologist or a GP so they can see the benefits of psychotherapy.

  • 2


    I am a psychologist who is passionate about supporting people to move toward well being and a genuine connection to their lives.I work with a … View Profile

    It can be difficult to watch someone you care about withdrawing in the way that you've mentioned and it is natural to want to support them to get help. It sounds specifically like this is having an impact on the relationship and that's probably a really good place to start.

    For most people it's really hard to get to a place where they're realizing that they're not coping well and then admitting that they may need external help. We all can imagine that the idea of asking for help is challenging and goes to the very heart of who we are, and the sense of control that we have over our own lives.

    It can help, also to consider that any time we make a change in life or do something differently, there's a number of distinct processes or stages we need to go through. In this situation, it might help to identify where in that process he is right now. For example, someone might still be at the stage of pre-contemplation, where they don't actually see the impact of the problem or they don't recognize that there is a problem. While others might see that clearly, but they're not ready or not sure how to take action that will offer some help. Being clear with your partner about how this affects your relating, could be a good start. Starting a conversation that is focused on how his mood or behavior is affecting you, the relationship and then asking how it affects him. Because, as much as we care, most people will not respond to being told, they need to explore the options for themselves. So, this is where you can support his processes. If he's able to acknowledge that there are some issues, ask next what he would like to do about it.

    It also is really important for you to have some resources and support in place for yourself. Depression is a serious illness and it is very treatable. Resources like the Beyond Blue website are a great source of both information and support.

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