Depression Caregivers Need Support, Too

December 9, 2011 Jack Smith

Al-Anon has been providing support to relatives and friends of alcoholics for 60 years. Support groups are also available for Alzheimer’s caregivers. Dementia caregivers can quickly go online and find support, too. But if there is a support group for those who are married to or live with people battling depression, I’m not aware of it. Maybe there needs to be.
depression-help-groupsMy wife could probably use it because I am too often preoccupied with my own challenges to give her the emotional support she needs, which she needs now more than ever. Her mother is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Yet too often, I’m not there for her, even when I am there for her.

Those who suffer from depression and anxiety know what I mean. We get so caught up in fighting depression, which can be a tiresome, sometimes daily battle, that we forget about the needs of our loved ones. Just the other night, with the kids already in bed, my wife and I finally had a few minutes to catch up. She hadn’t been feeling particularly good, but instead of asking her how she was doing, I unloaded the difficulties of my day on her. She never had a chance to tell me how she was coping, a fact she brought to my attention a few days later. That made me feel small, and I could do nothing but apologize and promise to do better.

Helping Others Helps Us, Too

One of the sad realities of depression is that it can turn us into selfish beings. It’s not that we don’t want to help others, which is one of the very things therapists will tell you can help depression. We just tend to build walls around us for self-protection. It’s not that we are selfish, we just suffer from a maddening mental illness that tends to make us more insular and less emotionally available.depression-help-groups1

I’m grateful that my wife does have a support group of sorts, even if they don’t know it. She has a cadre of close friends who go out for coffee or meet for lunch at least once a week. And I encourage it. It’s cheap therapy.

Events of the past week have shown me that’s not enough, though. I can’t just assume that the chance to get together with other women and talk about her troubles is enough for my wife, who has been key to my recovery from mental illness. She needs me as much as I need her, but it’s too often been a one-way street in the wrong direction. Maybe being there for her—really being there—needs to be my New Year’s resolution. And who knows? It just might make me feel better, too.

APA Reference
Smith, J. (2011, December 9). Depression Caregivers Need Support, Too, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 15 from

Author: Jack Smith

November, 30 2012 at 2:04 pm

Hey, I had the same idea. I'm just trying to start a blog on this issue. My wife of 30 years + suffers from severe depression, and there are days where I just don't know where to find the strength I need. Glad to see others are doing the same thing.

Kelly Deroest
December, 15 2011 at 9:09 pm

Good work! Keep us posting, you are good writer.

December, 12 2011 at 8:01 am

I am glad to find this writing from you both on this afternoon. I feel as though I was being self centered because I am receiving the bulk of the depression issues from my spouse. There are times when I am tired of being supportive of his depression. I needed to know that there are other spouse who get exhausted by this illness and that its okay to feel that way. I am a Christian and want to be spouse"for better or worst" but worst can be farly bad when you are constantly on guard for his symptoms starting to appear so that I can assure that our 10 year old is not witnessing any conduct too dramatic for his years.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jack Smith
December, 13 2011 at 3:54 am

I certainly understand you predicament and am quite sure my wife feels the same way. I hope you return to my blog.

Natasha Tracy
December, 9 2011 at 7:45 am

Yes, I was just about to say NAMI and the DBSA as well.
- Natasha

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jack Smith
December, 13 2011 at 3:56 am

Thanks for visiting and for the helpful information.

December, 9 2011 at 6:26 am

I know what you mean about being selfish. I feel selfish all the time, I feel like everything is about me, me, me. Recently my husband was diagnosed with cancer and I find myself having to be there for him. It's hard to change so fast but I did do it and still am. I know I could do more but I'm trying. I know I'm there for him emotionally. Also, NAMI has support groups for caregivers. I don't know if there are any in your area but you can check it out if you haven't already.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Jack Smith
December, 13 2011 at 3:57 am

Thanks for the post. I am sorry to learn about your husband. I can absolutely relate to your feelings of selfishness, but sometimes we have to be selfish for self-care, our otherwise things would be even tougher for our spouses. Thanks and come again.

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