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Suffering from depression, not taking medication, partner has history of abusive relationship. How can I help them?

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How should I help my father and his wife? :

I live a 16 hour drive from my father and his wife. My father divorced my mother about 13 years ago. He spent about 10 years with many different women. Last year he remarried.

My father has suffered from depression for about 30 years. He is 70 years old. He is not currently taking medication or seeing a psychiatrist. Last weekend my father and his wife came to visit me and stayed in my home for three days. I was shocked at how he was treating his new wife. For example, he would not let her get her running shoes out of their vehicle when we were going for a walk because she didn't "plan ahead." He interrupted her and insulted her a few times. I did not get the opportunity to speak to her alone for very long, but she told me she was not allowed to take their car and leave the little village where they live. They have to plan to make trips to town (a half hour drive away), and when they take trips they go together. He purchases the groceries and rations many items. She is not allowed to see friends or go outside the village unless he says it is ok, and so she doesn't do it.

One thing that is disturbing is that his new wife doesn't see all of this as a problem. She kept saying to me, "it's all good." I just couldn't believe it and honestly didn't know what to say. She has a history of being in abusive relationships. What is the appropriate way to help them see that this pattern is unhealthy and abusive? I can't witness this and not say anything. They seem to think it is perfectly normal and fine.

Thank you.
Posted Mon, 7 May 2012 in Eating Disorders
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 3 hours later

Thanks for your query.

I appreciate your efforts for seeking medical help at right time.

From your history it is clear that your father has following psychological symptoms:
-Excessive planning
-History of depression for 30 years
-Not seeking treatment
-Probability for being suspicious over wife as he is not allowing her to go out of the house.

Apart from that he is not willing for treatment which is less frequently seen in depression alone. He may have other problem as well which need in person assessment by psychiatrist. You may live with for few more days or visit him in your holidays and persuade him for visit to psychiatrist. If there is much social problem and change in behavior is recent then you should visit psychiatrist now.

As he already has long history of depression then it is good reason to persuade him re visit old psychiatrist itself.

I hope this information has been both informative and helpful for you. In case of any doubt, I will be available for follow ups.

Wish you good health.

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