How to Get Your Spouse to Agree to Seeing a Psychiatrist

Everyone sees their spouse's struggling, but when your spouse's condition goes from bad to worse, you may begin to worry. If you're concerned they have a mental illness, you may be unsure how to approach the topic. Here is how to help your spouse find the help they need.


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    Take note of your partner's symptoms. Write down any mood issues, persistent negative thoughts (as they report them), or physical complaints. Take down as much as possible, because you never know what may be relevant.
    • Physical symptoms matter because stress can cause issues like stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, and more. They may point to a specific mental illness.
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    Research the symptoms you observe. Are these connected to certain illnesses, and do your partner's symptoms seem strong enough to be potentially diagnosed? What are the names of a few disorders that could be behind your spouse's problems?
    • Reading lists of symptoms may remind you of a symptom that your spouse had, but that you didn't notice before.
    • Try not to focus too deeply on one condition right away. Plenty of mental health conditions look similar, and you don't want to get too attached to one label early on. Your job is to help identify the symptoms, and the physician will make the diagnosis.
    • Consider reading articles written by mentally ill people in addition to articles written by physicians.
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    Express concern over your partner's symptoms as your partner experiences them. This lets them know that you care about their feelings and that it worries you to see them suffering. Sometimes, other peoples' concerns cause the realization that something is definitely wrong.
    • "Honey, you've seemed really tired and withdrawn since your aunt died. I know she meant a lot to you, and it worries me to see you this way."
    • "You seemed really revved-up before, and now you look exhausted. I've noticed you've been having a lot of these mood swings before. Are you doing okay?"
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    Choose a good conversation time and place. Both you and your spouse should be in a decent mood, without any large pressure or things to do. A quiet time of the day is best. Try mentioning to your partner that there's been something on your mind, and work out a time to talk about it. Here are some ideas:
    • A walk in the park
    • Sitting at the kitchen table in the evening
    • During a date
    • Hanging out in the yard once the kids are in bed
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    Explain your concerns. Make it clear that you're worried about your spouse, and that you want them to feel better. Pointing out one or two of the most troublesome symptoms will help your spouse reflect on it, and give them an opportunity to tell you about how they've been feeling. It may open a dialogue about what's going on with them.
    • "Marisa, I've noticed that you seemed stressed and worried a lot. Last Tuesday you were in a state I'd never seen before and it scared me to see you so upset. I didn't know what to do. It hurts me to see you hurting, and I want to help you however I can."
    • "I'm worried about the voices you hear in your head. I recognize the possibility that someone is trying to tell you something, and by no means am I judging you. I think we should research before we settle on a conclusion. I was doing some reading and found an article that may be of interest to you."
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    Consider mentioning the possibility of mental illness. At this point it's too early on for you to be sure about anything, but that doesn't mean opening the door is a bad idea. If you think your spouse will respond well, it may be worth bringing up the name of a disorder so that they can research it later.
    • "Some of your symptoms sound to me like it could be an anxiety disorder."
    • "I read an article that reminded me of you. Would you like to read it?"
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    Suggest making a doctor's appointment. You may not want to use the word psychiatrist right away, because most people have a very stigmatized view of mental illness and psychiatry. Try suggesting that they see a specialist (and then finding a psychiatrist), or asking that they make an appointment with their general physician, who can refer them to a psychiatrist if needed.
    • General physicians such as family practitioners and internists may be able to prescribe some mental illness medication, such as antidepressants.
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    Reassure them that you care. Mental illness carries a heavy stigma and they may worry that you'll think less of them. Let your words and actions show that you love them just the same. Tell them you're there for them and want to help them however you can.
    • Offer to go with them to any doctor's appointments, take notes, help them remember things, or just provide moral support.
    • Take time to listen to them and let them feel heard. Your support can make a big difference.
    • Spend extra time doing fun and relaxing things together. This will make it clear that a diagnosis won't ruin their lives, and you love them just the same.


  • Providing a warm beverage like tea or coffee can take some of the tenseness out of the conversation. It isn't going to be a magical and happy discussion, but while you're talking to them they'll have something to sip on, and tea is noted for being a calming beverage
  • Choose a private place to talk where your spouse won't worry about being overheard.

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Categories: Married Life | Emotional Conditions