6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

If you would have told me a few years ago that I was, or would be dealing with depression, I probably would have laughed at you. I would have said, “You’re crazy! I’m the happy-go-lucky-guy, I don’t get depressed. I’m the guy that can walk into any room, party, venue and start making friends. I don’t get depressed. Heck, I don’t think I have been depressed a day in my life!!” That’s who I am!!

Depression is for girls, or at least that’s what most men think.

Until they get hit by the freight train that is depression.

Whether we want to admit it or not, America, and especially American men have a mental health crisis on our hands.  It’s a big deal!! Personally, I believe it could be the number one issue facing our nation today that no one wants to talk about. Think about this. What do the following men all have in common:

Robin Williams

Chester Bennington

Junior Seau

Lee Thompson Young

Anthony Bourdain

Chris Cornell

They are men who all committed suicide, and all of them dealt with depression.

How many people expected any of those guys to ever deal with depression or end up killing themselves?

Probably no one. Certainly not their fans, friends, or family.

But they are all gone. Victims of a monster our nation is afraid to talk about. Victims of a monster most men are afraid to talk about.

My Experience

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

Like I said above, I never thought I would be the guy to deal with depression. I had a few friends who dealt with it, but I never thought I would experience it. What I didn’t know, and looking back on it now it is obvious, is that I WAS dealing with it and didn’t even know it!!

My freight train finally arrived at the station of my life several months ago. I didn’t see it coming, nor did I expect it. It just hit me. First there was the severe anxiety, then the panic attacks, and then the depression. It was like a tsunami of nothingness had engulfed me. The anxiety gripped me with fear. Fear that I would die, fear that my wife would leave, fear that I was a horrible father, fear, fear, and more fear.

Then the panic attacks.

These things SUCK!!

Heart rate through the roof, shaking uncontrollably, breaking down cry for hours at a time, unable to get out of bed, and on top of all that there was this sense of “My life is over. My family would be better off without me.”

I began to feel like I would never get out of this place.

I felt like my life was a plane crashing and I was at the controls unable to pull up.

I remember leaving my kids homeschool co op going home and getting in bed. I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to sleep. I knew if I could get to sleep and stay asleep I would at least not feel like I was feeling. When my wife came home she asked me if I was okay.

I broke.

I wasn’t.

I didn’t know what to tell her, but all I could say was that I was broken and something was wrong.

Here’s the kicker, I didn’t know what was causing my issues, I just didn’t feel right.

I felt off.

Broken in some way (I’m not trying to be spiritual here).

So I began to research depression, but specifically depression in men.

And what I found shocked me.

I studied the symptoms, experiences of others, causes, etc. and began to realize that I didn’t just get hit by a train of depression, anxiety, etc. I had been ON the train for a while and didn’t even know it!!

That is why I wanted to bring attention to this issue.

With the recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and even the wife of the Attorney General of Alabama I think it’s time we talked seriously about depression.

However, what I have found is most people don’t know where to begin, and most men don’t even realize they are dealing with it. So, what we need to do is first identify the problem:

Depression: CHECK

Now we identify the symptoms.

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

1.) Anger

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

Not every man who is angry is depressed, but anger can be a symptom that depression is hiding under the surface. What I have found, and from the research I have done, most doctors, specialist, counselors, etc. believe anger can be an underlying symptom of depression when it begins to come out of nowhere. When you get really snappy, mean, or begin to experience episodes of rage.

I saw this in me a few times leading up to my diagnosis.

It was almost like someone flipped a switch and I was suddenly angry out of nowhere for stupid reasons.  Now, I think with the way our culture is right now, it is easy to be constantly feeding yourself angry or dark content and that be a natural occurrence, but for most people it isn’t. Especially for me. I am/was a usually a happy guy.

But there would be days where my fuse was short and anything could light it.

If your husband or father is experiencing this, have him talk with a doctor ASAP.

2.) Exhaustion 

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

Can’t sleep, Struggling to stay awake at work? Sleep habits jacked up? Go to sleep tired and wake up tired, if you sleep at all? Yeah, exhaustion.  Sleep issues is one of the earliest and most common symptoms of depression. Trouble falling asleep, insomnia, waking up multiple times a night, etc. are all signs of depression according to a review in “Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience.”

With all of the negative thoughts, feelings, and issues that go with lack of sleep, the brain struggles to settle down and ends up keeping many men awake, causing more issues to compound. One of the biggest issues that men with depression face is the ability to get a good nights rest.  When sleep is compromised, and compromised continually it leads to other major issues like panic attacks, anxiety, deeper and darker depression, suicidal thoughts, etc. If your husband or father is struggling with good sleep have him seek medical attention ASAP.

Sleep issues are one of the major issues I deal with, with my depression.  As a matter of fact I cannot remember the last night I had a full and complete night sleep without waking up several times. It’s a struggle and something I am working on but it isn’t easy.

3.) Isolation

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

When you are depressed, you just want to be alone. You begin to isolate yourself from others, even the most important people in your life. I began to see this when I just didn’t want to be with my wife or kids.  Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my wife and kids. They are amazing. But I hated feeling like I was a loser husband and sorry excuse for a dad. I just wanted to be by myself (the worst place I could be). My wife began to pick up on what I began to call my “hiding,” and began to coax me to come watch a movie or hang out longer at the dinner table.  I’m not gonna lie. It was, and is, still hard for me.

It’s hard for me because I am a guy usually that loves being with my family and others. But depression slammed me so hard, I just wanted to be alone and talk to no one. I wanted to sleep or veg out in front of a tv or my phone. I didn’t want to talk, be around others, or even think about being around others.

Men with depression will feel this way. Maybe you have noticed this in your husband or father. Speak to them about it.  Especially if it is uncharacteristic of them.

Isolation can lead down some very dark and scary paths quickly, so don’t be afraid to address this. You might get ignored, yelled at, or even brushed off, but keep at it. We really want you too. We want to feel needed, but our minds, feelings, and everything else around us feels like that isn’t true. Bare with us and don’t be afraid to coax us out of our hiding.

Quick Note: When I say hiding, I am talking about things like going to the bathroom a lot to just be alone, going to the grocery run alone, staying up late when everyone is in bed so we can be alone, etc. Help us to stay connected to the life of the family. It could save our life.

4.) Recklessness

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

Unsafe driving, drinking more than usual, abusing drugs legal and illegal, having unprotected sex, extramarital affairs, solicitation, sudden interest in hazardous hobbies, etc. etc. When it comes to depression, most men are just trying to feel normal again, or something at all. Often times when dealing with depression, men feel numb. That is how I have felt dealing with depression. Sure I could laugh at a good movie, cry, etc. but when it came down to what I was feeling in life in general, a numbness had set in.

Men will do many things to feel a thrill or sense of adventure. There is nothing wrong with that. Men are MADE for adventure, but when it becomes reckless and hazardous to their health, or the health of those around them, then there is an issue.

I remember driving with a work buddy going 135 miles an hour on the interstate, and not caring if we crashed or not. When I realized what I was feeling, I came to my senses, but for a few moments I was numb to it and even wanted to see if we could push it a little faster. That isn’t okay. Your husband NEEDS to stay alive!! God has a plan for him, you, and your family an this season of depression is just that, a season. It will pass. But he (and I) cannot take their/our lives and treat them like they are expendable. They aren’t. We must remember that our lives belong to God and we must treat them that way.

5. Sex Drive Disappears 

6 Signs Your Husband Or Father May Be Dealing With Depression And Not Even Know It

Another early warning sign of depression is when a man’s sex drive dramatically diminishes or disappears. Why? Because depression can impair parts of your limbic system, an area of your brain that controls appetite, sleep, energy, and your sex drive. Not cool. But I too can attest to this. When I am having a depressive episode sex sounds great, but also sounds like it will take too much energy and I am already tired and sleep deprived.

If your husband is having a noticeable decrease in his sex drive, bring it up. It is an early sign of depression in men, especially men under 50. This is where if caught early depression can be addressed. However, if left to continue, it could mean meds and an even further drop in sex drive, so lets try to keep the fire burning as hot as possible and talk to your husband if you notice his sex drive becoming dramatically less than it has been in the past.

6.) Suicidal Thoughts

because depression can impair parts of your limbic system, an area of your brain that controls appetite, sleep, energy, and your sex drive,

If your husband or father is dealing with depression, anxiety, or panic attacks he has had suicidal thoughts. They may have been fleeting, or they may be trying to burrow into his mind and stay, but they have come, are coming, and are hard to dismiss. I know that is scary to read, but it’s true.

There was a time in my journey were I began to think that my family would be better off without me. I have a great life insurance policy, and it would set my wife and kids up for life. I’ve also thought of taking more meds than I needed to just to get “sleep” when I knew that part of that thought was also hoping that I wouldn’t wake up.

I hate to say that, but it’s reality.

Let me say that every man dealing with those kinds of thoughts are scared. They don’t know what to do, they don’t want to freak their wives, kids, friends, and other family members out, so they often don’t tell anyone. I remember sitting in the doctors office talking with my doctor (who is a personal friend) and him asking me the question “Have you thought about hurting yourself, ending your life, or had suicidal thoughts?” My oldest son was in the room, and with tears streaming down my face, I looked at my doctor, looked at my son (who was caught up playing on his Nintendo 2DS), and back at the doctor, and he said “It’t okay, I get it. You don’t have to answer that.”

He knew.

Yes.

I have.

That’s scary to even write.

But if I am going to bring awareness to this issue I MUST be honest. Your husband and father who us dealing with depression is having thoughts like this. Go to him and ask him gently about them. Hug him. Cry with him. My wife asked me and I couldn’t even answer. I just broke down crying. To think that I would end my life, and put that kind of pain on the women who has been with me through thick and thin, terrified me, hurt me, and broke me.

Conclusion

Depression is a REAL issue facing many men today, and the problem is that we have a culture that cares little for the minds and lives of men. Men are toxic according to many (many stupid liberals and feminist……yeah I said it. Deal with it). But, men don’t have to be alone in their fight against depression. I have found that gathering other men around me who have walked this journey, or are currently walking this journey has been super important. I have also gotten on some medication to help for right now.

I am also actively seeking counsel, trying to figure out a balanced work life, and trying to be as honest as I can with what I am facing. Depression is real, and it is a killer. If you think your husband or father is dealing with depression, go to them and talk with them. Do some research on male depression.

I recommend some of the following websites:

HeadsupGuys

National Institute of Mental Health 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

When it comes down to it, men in America are facing a monster no one wants to speak about. Being someone who has been, and currently is walking through that very same valley, I refuse to see more men die at the hands of this monster. So, if you are a guy, or you have a guy in your life you love who you think needs help, reach out to me at shawn@shawnmwilson.com and let’s connect.

There is help.

Until next time.

Much love,

Shawn

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