My wife, Ashley and I have both dealt with bouts of anxiety and depression over the years. In our work with couples from all over the world, we’ve seen that millions of couples are suffering in silence over issues of mental health and the unnecessary stigmas that these issues often carry. It’s our goal to help these struggling couples find freedom and lasting solutions. We know from experience how discouraging and isolating you can feel when depression or anxiety strikes, but remember you’re not alone. You will get through this.
I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’m not going to get too clinical here, but I do want to be very practical. In my own marriage and in my work with many other marriages, I’ve seen that depression and anxiety impact men in a different way than it impacts women. My wife Ashley has some excellent resources to help wives who are struggling with these same issues. She also has a powerful devotional that is helpful for both men and women. It’s called “31 Verses and Prayers for the Anxious Mind and Heart,” and it’s worth checking out if you or your spouse are struggling.
As a quick point of clarification, I’m defining “depression” and “anxiety” in fairly broad terms. When I speak of depression, I’m referring to a prolonged season of discouragement causing a person’s default mood to be one of sadness and causing a person to have a general numbness and/or negativity toward life. When I speak of anxiety, I’m referring to an unnatural lack of peace and a persistent feeling of nervousness or dread.
Before I start sharing solutions for those who are currently struggling with these issues, let me give you a quick recap of how anxiety and depression have impacted my marriage:
*Ashley struggled with a four-year battle with anxiety and depression that was offset by postpartum depression after the birth of our first son. Through those early struggles, we learned to lean on each other, trust in God and relentlessly pursue healing. Ashley went to Christian counseling, read books, surrounded herself with encouraging influences, took a prescribed antidepressant, and prayed for healing. I did my part to reassure her during this struggle, and while I didn’t always have the right words, I quickly learned that my steady presence meant more to her than my words ever could. I reassured her often of my love for her and my commitment to her and how God would carry us through this storm (which He did).
*I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression in various forms through the years. I’m generally a positive, upbeat guy, but I’m also prone to bouts of intense discouragement and melancholy. Walking through tragedies with close friends and relatives as I tried to minister to them has created seasons of great sadness. My goal-oriented drive has set me up for a lot of discouragement over the years when life hasn’t worked out as I’d hoped. That discouragement, when left unchecked, can morph into seasons of depression. I’ve also had some medical issues which have created anxiety. I have a thyroid disorder which has negatively impacted my energy levels and caused my testosterone levels to plummet. I’ve actively sought the right treatments and medications to get my levels where they need to be, and I’m on the mend. But at my low points, I’ve had very little sex drive and performance anxiety related to sex stemming from low testosterone. For a guy in marriage ministry who writes and speaks on sex specifically, this often feels like a very intimate attack from Satan himself.
Since Ashley has the personal expertise and experience to address anxiety and depression in women, I’m going to focus on how it impacts men. Depression is like a fingerprint, it can look different for everybody. Despite its particular manifestations in each individual man, there seem to be some broad ways depression and anxiety impact men in general. Here are few of the warning signs.