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My partner refuses help

Community Member
I have been living with my partner for the best part of a year, and it has been a wonderful time until the last couple of weeks. He is clearly depressed, behaving out of character and self focused. He says he can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and knows he needs help but refuses to talk to anyone. It is affecting our relationship, and while I’m trying desperately hard to be supportive, I find myself questioning everything he says and does and smothering him with kindness. (I’m an ex nurse and a ‘fixer’ by nature). His ex wife says he has had these episodes before and she was never able to get him to seek help either. I don’t know what to do.
7 Replies 7

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Vicki,

welcome to beyond blue.

You say that your husband recognises that he needs help but is unable to talk to anyone. That is half the battle there, but the unfortunate thing is not being able to talk to anyone. And forcing someone to do something like getting help can be counter productive.

There are resources on beyond blue web site for partners that maybe helpful. You did not mention much in the way of conversations you have had with your partner ... have you been able to talk with him about how it makes you feel?

Your story is not that uncommon either. If you do a google search for

beyond blue get partner to see psychologist

you will find there are a number of threads (/stories) similar to your story, and perhaps you might get a few ideas there. How would you husband react if you suggested to him that you would arrange an appointment, and go with him?


Thank you for your post. There is, of course, much more going on than my initial post has described. My partner had such a typical male response of “ I need to deal with this myself”, and “I’m not going to take pills or tell a shrink anything “ ..., he knows psychiatrists aren’t quacks as my son is one...

he goes off every weekend to be with his “mates” and eventually comes home just as broken as when he left. Is he cheating? I don’t think he has the ability to cheat right now.! He’s just passing time, the best way he can each day. He knows he is being an arse, he thinks I’d be better off without him and he’s hurting. He talks about leaving but doesn’t (which I’m thankful for). He’s scared of taking medication that might affect his ability to work on a factory line, and he’s never opened up to anyone about his feelings except me and his ex wife. He drinks too much, exercises too little and is adopted so he doesn’t know his biological family health history.

My family are concerned about my own well being (which fluctuates). Maybe I’m just venting... there doesn’t seem to be a way forward right now.

Community Member

Men sometimes think they can tough it out but it actually leaves them weaker in the long run. My husband was swallowed alive by mental illness and now he's as weak as a kitten and totally dependent on others - so much for being tough.

Like you I tried with all the love in the world to help but failed. Looking back I wonder if I ever could of saved him - maybe not... but one thing I didn't do was give him a serious wake up call. I threatened to leave many times but I never did. I threatened to call the police but that never happened either. If I had to go back, they're the sort of things I'd do now. They're hard and humiliating but, when you're living with a partner like that, humiliation and hardship come along anyway. If gentle kindness isn't working then maybe you should ramp it up. Be strong.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Vicki

You sound like such a beautiful caring partner.

With depression being so complex, is it possible for you to discover an enlightening education through your son? I imagine he would be able to inform you on strategies to help raise dopamine levels, for a start. He's most likely also in the know when it comes to the amazing research being done into the 'gut microbiome' aspect of mental health and how diet can help boost serotonin (the happiness hormone).

I also imagine there is far more going on for your partner than chemical imbalance. With our history often shaping our identity, if we don't quite understand how we came to be the person we are today, we can have trouble understanding who we really are beyond the history - our most authentic self coupled with our potential. Sometimes, tweaking the chemistry through either medication or natural resources can be enough to set us on the path toward uncovering the truth, in relation to self-understanding. All in good time.

Regarding the exercise aspect, can you think of any past exercise based experiences that have appealed to your partner? For example, if he used to love getting on a bike, you could consider buying a couple of cheap mountain bikes and a bike rack for the car and go adventuring (adding ventures). Setting goals, such as distance and destinations reached can trigger little dopamine hits. It's definitely hard to find motivation in depression. Having someone motivate you, acting as your surrogate mind, can make some difference.

Bringing in something new, whether it's entirely new or it involves reintroducing an old love (let's say the bike riding for example), allows for new identification. I am unmotivated becomes I am an adventurer. I did this with a friend of mine who was experiencing issue after issue health wise. She was at her lowest after coming out of hospital when I suggested 'We're going to give you a new identity, adventurer'. We connected with a beautiful holiday location during the Easter holidays 8 years ago and have been returning to that place same time each year ever since. The issue with this though involves re-turning (turning again) back toward what can trigger us. Perhaps this is why your partner feels down when he comes back from his weekends away. Making sure there is another positive identity in place on our return can help combat this feeling. Having new positive things to turn to can help when it comes to the negative routine things we need to turn away from.


Community Member

Hi Vicky,

I can tell you are a caring person and just want the best for your loved ones, including your partner. Are there any more signs of him cheating? If not, I don't think he would be. As you said, he's probably just passing time. I understand that you are worried for him and just want him to be happy. Sit down and talk with him. If he doesn't want to talk, it is best to accept that.

Find some activities you can do together to raise your partner's spirits a bit. Remind him of the great things in life. Are there any possible causes of his depression? If so, support your partner in moving past these. If not, it could have no cause.

I'm no mental health professional, but your son is, so his advice will be best.

Stay strong



Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Vicki,

Venting is ok if it makes you feel a little better. Somewhere to put your thoughts rather than ruminating on them and the possibilities.

I think you would know this already, but just because you get professional help, it does not mean that you automatically have to take medication. I only started on medication myself when I had suicidal thoughts. Before then I was just doing talk therapy with a psychologist. So that might be something you could mention to him?

You also mentioned that he drinks too much... I guess this is his way of self-medicating, for lack of a better word. Or his way of dealing with the issues he has. Perhaps you could ask him to just cut down the amount he drinks would be a good start?

One other thing to consider for the way he is feeling could be medically based. Part of my condition is from haemochromatosis (ferritin level too high). Now I am not suggesting this is what you husband has, but there are quite a few that can have depression as a symptom. So talking to the GP about this would be something else you could cross of the list or not. And really, this is just part of looking after yourself.

The last thing to consider is what might have happened 2 weeks ago when this all started.


Community Member

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and support. my partner unfortunately moved out yesterday... he said he just couldn’t stay here anymore. He is with his family thank goodness but no closer to getting professional help.

I had a very helpful chat with his ex wife who filled in a lot of background info regarding past depressive episodes. She was also unsuccessful at getting him to seek help.

He is already sending remorseful texts about leaving, and I have continued to offer support and told him that nothing he has done so far is irreparable. I have to admit that when he did leave, despite my grief, I actually felt a little relieved that he had been able to make a decision, albeit one that hurt me.

there has certainly been a trigger... having to deal with his family home, and it has become an elephant too big to eat, even one mouthful at a time. His wife told me he also has a history of a brain aneurysm years ago, and since then he has had significant mood and personality changes. What I have witnessed is not unusual for him, and eventually in time, he snaps out of it. However he always seems to hurt loved ones in the process.

I know it sounds like there should already be some kind of medical follow up in place, but there isn’t. He shops around for GP’s when need be, and as soon as one starts digging too deep he finds another.

I am answering his texts calmly and trying to gently prompt, but so far getting no where.