I Need Tips on How to Talk to My Boyfriend About His Depression
Boys and men are often taught in our society not to show or talk about their feelings. A well-known psychotherapist, Terrence Real, believes that depression is a silent epidemic in men—that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression’s “un-manliness.” So it is understandable that your boyfriend is feeling reluctant to seek out help and to talk to you about his depression.
TeenHealthFX recommends that you do the following:
- Recommend to your boyfriend that he read Terrence Real’s book, I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression.
- Encourage your boyfriend to get help from a trained mental health professional such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist. Let him know that mood disorders, including depression can get worse when left untreated and that because you care about him, you want to see him get the help he needs.
- Let other people know about your concerns, such as your boyfriend’s parents or a school counselor, so that they can intervene on his behalf to get him the help he needs.
- Encourage your boyfriend to be around people. People who are depressed can often isolate, but it is often a sense of isolation and disconnectedness from others that contributes to depressed feelings. So it is very important that he stays connected to others whether he is spending time with you, with friends or with family members.
- Let your boyfriend know that you are there to listen if he ever wants to talk. Do not feel like you are there to fix things for him or that you need to have all the answers. Very often when people are depressed it is very helpful just to have someone there to listen. Listening, letting him know how much you care about him and empathizing with what he is going through (i.e., to say something like, “It must be so hard for you to be feeling down so much of the time.”) can be extremely beneficial.
- Focus on healthy living when the two of you are together. Diet and exercise can have a big impact on people with mood disorders. When you are together, encourage your boyfriend to be active with you, such as going for walks, hiking, swimming, or whatever else the two of you might enjoy. And encourage healthy eating, particularly limiting sugary and processed foods.
If you continue to have any questions or concerns about how to be there for your boyfriend, find a trusted adult to talk to about it, such as a parent or school counselor. It is important that you have the support you need so that you can be there for him in a helpful way.
For more information on this topic, read the HelpGuide.org article, How to Help Someone with Depression.
If your boyfriend lives in northern New Jersey and needs help finding a therapist he can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area he can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in his area. He can also contact his insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with his school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in his area.