Helping a Loved One Cope with Depression

A little more than a year ago, my wife started experiencing dramatic mood swings. One moment, she would be happy. The next, she would be angry or crying over something that really didn’t seem like that big of a deal to me. I started to suspect something was wrong and encouraged her to see her doctor and she was told she suffered from depression.

This actually wasn’t a huge surprise because it is a disease that runs in her family. But, even though she was given plenty of literature about the disease, I honestly was not prepared for how it would affect everyone in our house, not just her. In fact, there were plenty of times when I just didn’t know what to do.

However, after some work, I found there are ways I can help my wife cope with the disease, something that has definitely made living with her much easier.

One of the first things I ended up doing was taking the time to read the literature her doctor gave her and do my own research online. Prior to doing this, I honestly didn’t even understand the disease and really just thought it was her feeling sorry for herself over something. Taking the time to do the research opened my eyes and, just as important, helped me to understand what to watch for symptom wise.

While researching, the second thing I did was learn more about the medication they gave her. My wife is usually pretty decent about taking pills. But, if something doesn’t work right away or makes her a bit sick, she’ll stop. And, I wanted to make sure I was on top of every possible side effect and understood what would happen if she forgot to take it or, worse, accidentally overdosed on it. By doing this, I was able to serve as her reminder when it was time to take it and even found some ways to help offset some of the side effects.

The most important change I made was taking the time to monitor her moods closely. I started doing this on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being her best days and 1 being her worst. When she’s in the lower numbers, I take extra steps to help her through the day, such as sending the kids over to my parents’ house so they don’t stress her out or, if it’s warm enough, get her outside to get some sunlight (something that seems to help her mood).

Her depression is still part of our lives. But, because I did take these steps, it isn’t something that has completely taken over our lives either.

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