How to Help a Depressed Husband or Wife When They Don’t Want It

Need to know how to help a depressed husband or wife when they don’t want your involvement? Here are some tips.

Ever wondered how to help a depressed husband or wife when they don't want it? This is a tough question and one where several factors must be considered. If you believe your partner to be a danger to themselves or others, for example, you may need to override their wishes and contact a professional who can provide the help they need. But aside from emergencies, is it ever OK to force help on someone who doesn't want your involvement? Let's explore how to help a depressed husband, wife or spouse who rejects your support.

How to Help a Depressed Husband, Wife or Partner: Should You Confront Them?

Desperate to know how to help a depressed husband or wife when they don’t want your support? Whatever the situation, depression can hurt your relationship or make your relationship incredibly difficult. Your partner may reject your emotional or practical help and insist on doing things on their own. This can be incredibly bothersome when you’re worried about your partner, and dealing with someone with depression can be frustrating. Understandably, this frustration often leads to confrontation, which is rarely helpful to either partner.

Just like when someone has an alcohol or drug addiction, it can be difficult to make your spouse see how their depression is affecting your relationship and home life. When you're dealing with an addict, however, confrontation rarely motivates them to seek help. Studies show that conflict and confrontation actually increase an individual’s resistance to change and make them more likely to carry out problematic behavior, such as drinking, gambling or drugs.

Helping a Husband with Depression: What Can You Do?

Knowing how to help a depressed husband or wife involves using strategic methods, but if confrontation doesn't work then what will? Conversely, empathy and understanding are the keys to helping someone who doesn't want to be helped. Sure, you can force your partner into treatment, but if he or she is not prepared to accept help, the chances of them getting better are slim.

Your partner needs to make an active choice to get help – to take his or her medication every day or show up to therapy sessions. The road to recovery from depression is sometimes long and winding, so your husband needs to be in the right headspace.

Knowing how to help a depressed husband is not the complete picture. Sometimes, people just aren’t ready to seek help and there is very little you can do to persuade them otherwise. As long as you’re aware where your responsibilities end and where it’s up to the other person to act, there are some things you can do:

  • Provide consistency: Routine is great for people with depression, as it helps them ground their sometimes unpredictable moods. Try to provide consistency by sticking to a routine (such as eating breakfast and going to bed at the same time each day), even if your partner doesn't follow suit.   
  • Stay calm: If you want your partner to trust you enough to seek your help and advice, you need not to take their depression personally or start an argument every time they refuse help.
  • Be empathetic: Your partner may have good reasons for not wanting to accept help. He or she may want to keep the depression separate from your relationship, or they may be worried about losing their job or children if they were to get treatment (even though this only happens in extreme cases). Don’t blame your partner for their illness just because they’re reluctant to seek help. Instead, show that you understand their concerns and are prepared to help navigate them.
  • Set boundaries: It is not OK for your partner to talk down to you or become verbally abusive, no matter what they’re going through, so be sure to set boundaries if your relationship starts to suffer. You may also need to stipulate what you’re prepared to put up with if their depression involves heavy drinking or other problematic behaviors ("Depression and Relationships: When to Say Goodbye").
  • Give them hope: Hope is the greatest enemy to depression, so try to offer glimmers of it where you can. Remind them of trips you want to take or plans for the future and keep telling them that they can and will feel better in time.
  • Offer gentle reminders of help: Keep reminding your partner of the kinds of support that's available, such as an appointment with their doctor, a telephone call with a mental health helpline or therapy sessions.

Knowing how to help a depressed husband, wife or partner is not always easy – especially if they don't want your support. The small efforts you make can add up over time, however, so know that you're doing the best you can and that it is ultimately up to your partner to make the next move.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2022, January 3). How to Help a Depressed Husband or Wife When They Don’t Want It, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: January 10, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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