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My Wife's Depression And Anger


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#1 wife_has_depression

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 11:58 PM

My wife has been diagnosed as having depression about 15 years ago. She has been on a number of anti-depressants over the years, and is now on Lexopro. However, her depression isn't what I would expect from what I read. I don't see a lot of feelings of being sad, what I do see is intense anger. For years I allowed her to blame me for her anger and intense outbursts. She has been to a psychiatrist and other therapists, but to be honest I have only seen an improvement when she changes medications. A new medication seems to help her. But then there is the anger. She had an intense episode tonight. We have been talking about dieting, we both have to loose weight for our health. I'm a large guy and she is petite, and should have smaller portions than I do. But she always has equal to what I eat or sometimes more. Anyway, since we got a new diet book today I brought up portion control for the lasagna that she was piling on her plate as she usually does. She got intensely angry, took almost all the food on her plate and threw it into the sink. Then started to beat it down the drain into the garbage disposal so hard she broke the plastic spatula. Yelled at me claiming she was using portion control, and went into the bathroom for the longest time. This always makes me worry cause I don't know what state she is in, if she might harm herself even though she has never done that.
 
In the past, this kind of behavior would immediately start me to apology and hang-around trying to support her to get better. But after dealing with this for years, to be honest, I am sick of what seems like childish behavior to me. She then told me she took a Xanax and was heading to bed which was much earlier than she usually goes to sleep. She didn't eat dinner at all which is highly unusual for her. I tucked her in, said I was sorry she wasn't feeling well, but I resisted from apologizing as I have done in the past.
 
No matter what, she blames me for her being anger. Even if it wasn't me, this one time we were watching TV and they were interviewing this successful woman who was a billionaire. I joked I bet she had a house keeper, cause that's something we wish we could afford. Then within minutes she became angry in another intense episode and ruined the whole evening. Later I talked to her and asked her why she was upset and said she was upset because she wasn't a billionaire with a house keeper. I'm sorry, but this isn't rationale it's more like something a little child would do in my opinion. But I'm punished for her with her behavior each time.
 
My wife has depression and I don't know how to help her. I can't live my life walking on eggs hoping not to do something to set her off, cause to be honest I have come to the full realization that her behavior is not my fault, and it isn't within my power to re-create the universe for her so that nothing ever again bothers her. But I still get the blame and punishment. She rarely mentions she was upset or makes an apology for her behavior, she acts as though it never happen when she is better. I have talked to her when she is OK how damaging this is for me to be treated like this and she just doesn't want to deal with it. I get the feeling she feels I am at fault and I deserve her anger. I've had to come back with saying it was brain chemistry and it had nothing to do with me.
 
When she does feel not herself, if I ask her how she is doing, she will say she is fine, no mater how bad she is feeling and I can tell it. But on those rare situations if she will simply said she isn't feeling well, within a short period of compared to her not revealing this she is much better. I can't say 100%, cause I don't know what 100% is for her any more to tell you the truth.
 
I have read that a spouse of someone who has depression can become depressed. I don't want her depression to make me sick as well, and at the same time I am trying very hard to deal with her depression to do what I can. I do know what I can't become, I can't become the Wizard of OZ, a billionaire and have magically powers to make her life perfect so she won't become depressed. What I can do is be supportive, but at this point I don't know what is the right thing to do for her anymore. I finally got her to tell me that next time she is feeling this way I should try to hug her and just tell her to comfort her. But there is no way I got the chance to do this from this last episode and I was watching her carefully as I always do to see signs that she isn't feeling well, and I didn't detect it at all. I find it very hard to live this way with her and it's taking it's toll on me and is wearing me out. Even when she is feeling fine, in the back of my mind I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and for her to become angry in some fit about essentially nothing.
 
Does this describe anyone's experiences with their own depression/anger? If so, how would you like your spouse to react? What would you like to be done to help you get through the episode? What would comfort you? What would truly help you the most? Should you be left alone? Does having an "audience" witness your anger and outburst cause you to prolong it? Thanks!

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#2 SoulBlade

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 09:13 AM

I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time with your wife right now. I would also like to applaud you on your efforts to reach and comfort her, I can tell you truly are trying and you care deeply. I'm glad you stopped apologizing for her unreasonable anger towards you, that is definitely the right move.

 

I suffer from depression and anger is the emotion I have the least facility with so I hope I know something that can help you. First I will answer you questions. Your wife's behavior is a very common expression of anger. I personally prefer to bottle it up and direct it towards myself, your wife and I could both improve the way in which we express anger. It is very common for anger to be a front for other emotions, a person may express anger when they are sad, hurt, insecure, depressed or any number of other things. So if anger is all you see, chances are there is a lot going on emotionally that you are not seeing, that she might not even be aware of herself.

 

What would help me the most during an anger episode is having a partner who understood anger as well or better than I do and could gently and sportively urge us to take some therapeutic steps together. Leaving someone alone is not the best thing to do unless they specifically tell you it is. I like to STOP, that is Stop immediately what I am saying and doing, Take some deep breaths, Observe my experience thoughts/emotions/and body sensations, then Proceed with some activity that supports mental resilience. My favorite non-destructive way to express anger is exercise. This gives the opportunity to do something with your partner or if they need to be alone it is a great opportunity for that also, always ask which one they need because it won't be the same need every time. After expressing my anger in my favorite non-destructive way, I have reflected on what really made me angry and I am ready to talk. Then I express how I feel (without blaming or accusing), focus on a reasonable compromise (without needing to "win"), negotiate reasonable changes and solutions with my partner (while respecting their feelings and needs), and implement a plan of action to get my unmet emotional need satisfied (the one the started the anger in the first place). Having a partner support me to do those things would be the most helpful thing in the world.

 

Does having a witness prolong the anger? That depends entirely on what the witness is doing. As you noticed doing whatever the angry person wants and apologizing for things you never did wrong does not work. If the witness participates with the anger it is prolonged, if they play along, fight, play against sublimate or any of that. If the witness remains calm, knows that the anger is only dysfunction and not personal, and can deeply listen and speak only compassionately to their partner then the witness is a great opportunity, a gateway to the cessation of anger for the angry person. A listener who does not respond at all is also not helpful, only an active listener is of real use. Often you may be able to hear what you partner means, beneath what they say, when they are caught in a storm of disordered suffering. In many cases the angry person is becoming less and less aware and has no idea how they feel right at that moment. If you are calm they have any awareness left, your calm supportive presence (while maintaining your self-respect & integrity) will be of tremendous value to the angry person, it will allow them to remember faster that they love you and want only for you to feel happy and valued.

 

If I may, I want to recommend to you the best book on anger I have ever read ever. My suggestion if I may presume to make one, is that you work through all the exercises in this book together as a couple and share your individual exercises with each other. This could be tremendously healing for you as a couple, if you can get your wife to agree to really put effort into it. The best book on anger is: Anger Taming the Beast by Reneau Z. Peurifoy, a step-by-step program for managing anger calmly and effectively. If nothing else, reading this book will give you a complete perspective on why your wife acts as she does.

 

I wish you the best of luck. Take good care of yourself and don't let your wife take you down with her. You don't deserve the way she is treating you and the things she says when she is angry are not true, they are only words of suffering from one who is suffering and doesn't know why. Good Luck!


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#3 wife_has_depression

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 01:00 AM

Thanks, SoulBlade very much for your kind and thoughtful reply. It is the kind of response I hoped to find on a support form.


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#4 Beana

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 05:38 AM

I have had depression since I was a child. Nobody except my husband knows this and yes, I had a good childhood - not abused, not bullied, A class student. I have never been on drugs, never seen a psychologist or psychiatrist. Anger is definitely something that comes with it and my poor husband and children have not so much been the ones to cop it but being around an angry person is very uncomfortable. I'm happy to say that for some reason, perhaps because I have a different perspective on life now, I don't have episodes of rage anymore. I am thankful for what I have and don't worry about what I don't have and there is ALWAYS someone worse off than me. I have a wicked sense of humour, bordering on the insane I always say (hahahaha) and find that humour is the best medicine.

 

Now the shoe is on the other foot - my husband has had a breakdown and is suffering very badly with depression, anxiety and anger. He has not been able to work and is quite debilitated. We found that all the drugs are useless and we are now on a plan of reduction and to try drug-free methods. He too has struggled with terrible anger, directed mostly at the source of his breakdown - his employer. His anger has never been directed at me or any of our family and friends even though he seethes with rage. I think this is because we have had a such a good relationship to start with - a good solid base to weather all storms.

 

You are doing a great job, the best you know how and I hope it doesn't wear you down too much. My husband found that a psychologist has been a great help; the drugs definitely are not a help. His plan is to work on meditation as soon as he get off this rubbish and continue with his exercise regime. You and your wife may both benefit from counselling with a psychologist as there could be many issues at play.


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#5 epnva

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Posted 02 January 2014 - 10:28 PM

My wife also has depression and angry outbursts. She finds a way to blame me for her current mood and nothing I do to try to fix it is right. I feel like I am fighting a loosing battle. My wife actually got better and for about a year was the best spouse I could ask for. She is now pregnant with our first child. I hope it is the hormones of pregnancy but I see soo many similarities between the way she is now and the way she acted then. I have tried every thing and am wearing thin. I find myself fighting back or making smart ass remarks which only makes things worse. I've read the "books" and tried what the "experts" say to do for her. I am convinced that some of these "experts" have NEVER dealt with a depressed person outside of their 30 min treatment sessions. The "techniques" and advice only seem to incite more rage. She goes to bed and when she wakes up, its like nothing ever happened. I have started to doubt myself, my value as a husband, and my potential to be a good father for my first daughter. I just want to wave the manic want and make it all go away.
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#6 scotsman432

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 04:29 PM

This topic really struck a chord with me.  My wife has struggled with depression the entire time we've been married.  She was diagnosed shortly after we were married and eventually began to feel better after starting on Lexapro.  After a few years she felt that it was no longer helping like it should, so her doctor opted to try Effexor.  As the dosage of this medicine increased she began to experience bouts of anger.  Lots of yelling, throwing things, etc.  She was never violent towards any family members, but it was unsettling nonetheless.  During this time she began seeing a different therapist who suggested that she may have a form of bipolar.  This was a new idea for us.  In the past, 3 other mental health professionals were quick to tell her that she most definitely did not have bipolar and that she was just depressed.  Her therapist referred her to a psychiatrist who agreed that she did have a number of symptoms consistent with bipolar II.  I didn't know that some with bipolar disorder sometimes experience a mania that manifests itself as an "agitated depression", as seemed to be the case with my wife.  She never went on spending sprees or slept around, but she did get very angry.  The rest of the time she was just depressed.  He began treating her accordingly with a combination of antidepressant, mood stabilizer, and an anti-psychotic to be taken as needed.  Though she is still very depressed at times, the outbursts of anger have stopped completely.  I just thought I'd share that since my wife struggled with very similar issues to what you describe.  It was scary to learn that a traditional anti-depressant can actually worsen the symptoms of one with undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  That may be worth mentioning to your wife's doctor so that it can at least be ruled out.  Good luck.


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#7 katyme

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Posted 22 January 2014 - 01:56 AM

I am sorry to hear about this. Just going through your question I feels how much you love her. I am not an expert to answer for these questions so I am not going to give you an answer. Anyway I wish you all the best. Someone will answer for your matter. Good luck!


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