Mood Elevator

11 Sep

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I have been married almost 20 years, and we have three fantastic children. He’s a wonderful husband and father, but he’s prone to clinical deep depression, which runs in his family. For the past two years, medication has kept his depression in check. His mood and behavior are considerably better – he has renewed interest in his work and hobbies, and we do things together as a family. But a side effect of the drugs is that he’s not interested in sex. I’ve tried everything, but he says he doesn’t feel like it. He doesn’t even want me to hug him. Our sex life was good before this. I’m fed up. I’d have an affair, but cheating on him would take too much out of me. What to do?

–Bye-Bye Sex

Many misapprehensions persist about depression in men. Commonly regarded as a “woman’s disease,” depression affects more than 6 million American men a year. Men are reluctant to own up to depression because they think it makes them look weak and are reluctant to talk about their feelings. Your husband is to be credited with taking steps to resolve his condition. But he needs to go further, with your help. Your husband has both physical and psychological problems. He needs a full workup with his doctor. And, if he’s not doing so already, he should have sessions with a psychiatrist familiar with the current pharmacology for treating depression because a common side effect of antidepressants is loss of libido. New medications certainly may be in order. Ms. L.B. advises you to make this a joint project. For one thing, get involved in your husband’s medical program, possibly entering therapy with him if his doctors advise it. First, talk with him thusly:

Sweetie, we’re in crisis as a couple, and we need to hash out some serious stuff. I’m so glad that for the sake of yourself and the family you went on medication to deal with your depression. What a positive difference! But your medications mean that we don’t have sex anymore – you don’t even want me to touch you. We can’t go on like this. I want to go with you to Dr. McConnell for a full physical and blood workup. Then, depending on what he says, we go to a psychiatrist who treats depression and knows all the drugs that work. There are other drugs out there that may do wonders for your depression and still let us be together sexually. You are my dearest love, and I miss being close to you. I have a hunch you feel the same. We have to make this right for us both. Are you willing to try?

 

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