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My Partner Needs Help, What Can I Do?

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 7 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
Soldier Iraq Ptsd Post Traumatic Stress


I am at my wits end with my partner who served in Iraq. Two months before he left, he lost his dad to cancer. I want to help him but how can I when if I even mention seeing a GP again he won't? He did see a GP but she said he needed to sort his binge drinking out first. That made him even more depressed as he had russled the courage to go and the drinking was the main point that was made.

He is moody, nasty, unpredictable, and some days doesn't want to live.

I am very worried and really don't know what to do. What ever I try to say isn't right. He becomes distant and unapproachable when all I want to do is hold him and reassure him.

I have read all the signs of depression and he does tick all the boxes. Please could you advise me who I can see to get him the help he needs and deserves. I wondered if there are any support groups for ex soldiers.

(Ms jp, 9 December 2008)


After reading about your struggles, it really seems that you care deeply about your partner. It also sounds like he has dealt with significant emotional stress, which began when he lost his father to cancer and has continued with the challenge of serving in Iraq.

While it is a positive step that he initially saw his GP, I get the impression that the experience left him avoiding his doctor and now he refuses to go. Since the GP stated that he needs to sort out his binge drinking, it would appear that he might be embarrassed to speak to a doctor about his issues with alcohol. He may feel very judged by his doctor and his binge drinking could be his unhealthy way of coping with the experience of losing his dad and serving in Iraq. I tend to wonder if his doctor offered any information and resources for addressing his binge drinking.

It does sound as though he may be depressed and/or suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with regards to Iraq. Only a qualified GP can accurately diagnose your partner. It takes a lot of courage to speak to a loved one about their suspected depression and I applaud you for taking that action.

Unfortunately, this can still make a person withdraw or display anger, which it seems your partner is doing. Please also know that you do not deserve to be mistreated and while you love your partner, it's important that your feelings are respected.

In terms of support groups, most of the ones in Britain are geared towards families of soldiers who are serving in Iraq or were killed in the war. The National Health Service (NHS) does give priority treatment to soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Given that a support group will need to be accessed locally, your partner's GP will be the ideal professional to provide information.

It might be worth finding a new GP – someone who your partner is comfortable seeing for help. He can also access services through the military as well. I truly hope that your partner can receive the help that he needs and I also hope that you look after your own emotional well-being as you offer support to your partner during this difficult time.

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