I’m really worried about my husband and his mental health. He has had moderate ME/CFS for several years and is no longer able to work or socialise. Like many people I know with ME/CFS, he felt fed up and frustrated with all the restrictions that ME/CFS has placed on his life. However, in my view, he has now become depressed – his mood is flat, he says he feels worthless and he no longer takes any care about his appearance. He sometimes cries and has even talked about ‘ending it all’. He won’t accept that he is depressed and won’t see his doctor – who is actually very good. What can I do?
I’m very sorry to read about your husband and his current state of mind. From what you say it sounds as though he has what doctors would regard as true clinical depression – something that should always be taken seriously, especially when there are suicidal thoughts or intentions. He must speak to his GP about what is happening – because his GP acts as gatekeeper to mental health professionals whose help he almost certainly requires right now.
If he won’t speak to his GP, try to do so on his behalf. This can create problems in that doctors have to respect patient confidentiality, but they should take notice of a concerned partner or relative. I would also suggest that he (or you) speak with Samaritans if the situation becomes more desperate or acute. You might also like to speak to one of our professionally-trained volunteers on the ME Connect telephone helpline. They are used to helping and supporting people with ME/CFS in this situation.
- Mental Health: Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- Mental Health: Depression
- Treatment: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- We have produced a free summary of the 2021 NICE Clinical Guideline for ME/CFS, and suggest that you familiarise yourself with its recommendations and discuss them with your GP, ME/CFS Specialist Service, or Social Care provider (as appropriate).
- Deatiled information relating to Mental Health can be downloaded from the website shop. For example:
- Depression – Antidepressants & other treatment options: We explain depression and how it is completely understandable when living with ME/CFS. We also review treatment options including antidepressants, self-help, good CBT, and, counselling.
- Counselling – Your Questions Answered: Dr Lisa Dvorjetz explains counselling and how therapy can help should an independent professional be needed to work through the understandable mental health problems that can affect carers and people with ME/CFS.
- Managing Your Emotions: Dr Lisa Dvorjetz (Psychology Adviser to the ME Association) explains the role that emotions can play on health despite ME/CFS being a neurological condition, and considers how you can best manage them.
- Drugs – Amitriptyline: Depression, Pain & Sleep Relief: We explain how Amitriptyline was developed as an antidepressant, but is now used more commonly to help with pain and sleep problems that occur in ME/CFS.
Medical Matters is for information purposes only. The answers provided by Dr Shepherd and the ME Association’s other expert advisers should not be construed as medical advice. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your GP as soon as possible. It is important to obtain advice from a GP who is in charge of your clinical care, who knows you well, and who can consider other likely causes for symptoms. Seek personalised medical advice whenever a new symptom arises, or an existing symptom worsens. Don't assume that new or worsened symptoms are a result of having ME/CFS.