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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I help and reconnect with my partner with depression?

    My partner has been drinking heavily lately and has been increasingly agitated and exhibiting other symptoms of depression such as abnormal sleeping patterns and a loss of interest in daily life.

    He called one night extremely upset and stating that he was drinking too much, had to go back to his psych etc but hasn't taken any steps to make any appointments and is now denying that there is anything wrong and won't discuss it with me or his friends who have been through this before with him.

    I want to help him through this but I made the mistake of asking for a couple of weeks break as his behaviour had brought up my own mental health concerns and I didn't feel able to deal with his as well, he has been in contact every day but every attempt I make to discuss his health or feelings is dismissed and he just changes the subject yet he is doing things for me like randomly dropping by to mow the lawn if i'm not home etc.

    He is a very strong and stubborn man, how do I get him to talk to me?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • I have been working in Eltham, Melbourne as a relationship and family counsellor for over twelve years. I draw on current theory and research about … View Profile

    You have been very strong by letting your partner know that you are not able to cope with his choice to not seek treatment for his drinking or depression.
    Rather than focussing on the question of how to get him to talk to you, it may be more helpful to  think about what can you do that will encourage him to return to his psychologist for the help he needs.
    You have already communicated through your actions that your partner's actions are having a negative impact on you. You might express this verbally to him as well - for example, when you have tried to talk to him about your concerns and he changes the subject, you might say “I'm really worried that when I try to let you know my worries about your health you change the subject. I am concerned about what will happen to our relationship if you don't go and get the help you need for your drinking and depression.”
    While you cannot make your partner seek help, you can and should take your own emotional and mental health very seriously, which you have done by taking a break. It is your partner's choice whether or not to get help. By letting him know that his choice not to get help may mean he is jeopardising his most important relationship, it is possible he may find the motivation to get the help he needs.
    This is a hard thing to do! Taking this approach and holding it strongly involves managing your own anxiety - about possibly losing the relationship. It may be important for you to seek out help and support for yourself at this time too, so you are able to have a space to think about what is best for you, regardless of what happens between you and your partner.

    All the best.

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