Are You (or are you married to) A Depressed Husband? Maybe It’s IMS – Take the Quiz

Irritable Male SyndromeAfter writing, The Irritable Male Syndrome:  Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, I received hundreds of letters from women and men concerned about the impact that irritability and anger were having in their lives.  Many of which are about either being or married to a depressed husband.  This one is typical of the many I received:

“Last month a man came home from work with my husband’s face but he did not act at all like the man I married.  I’ve known this man for 30 years, married 22 of them and have never met this guy before.  Angry, nasty, and cruel are just a few words to describe him.  He used to be the most upbeat, happy person I knew.  Now he’s gone from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.  In spite of how he treats me I still love my husband and want to save our marriage.  Please, can you help me?”

We all get irritable and angry at times, but Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS) has deeper roots.   In the book I describe a number of key symptoms of IMS, including hypersensitivity.

The women who live with these men say things like the following:

  • I feel like I have to walk on eggshells when I’m around him.
  • I never know when I’m going to say something that will set him off.
  • He’s like a time bomb ready to explode but I never know when.
  • Nothing I do pleases him.

The men don’t often recognize their own hypersensitivity.  Rather, their perception is that they are fine but everyone else is going out of their way to irritate them.  The guys say things like:

  • Quit bothering me.
  • Leave me alone.
  • No, nothing’s wrong.  I’m fine.
  • Or they don’t say anything.  They increasingly withdraw into a numbing silence.

Does this sound familiar?  If you think someone you love may be suffering from IMS, take this simple quiz to find out.

Think back over the last month.  How often have you (or your man) appeared :

Rarely  (1)        Sometimes  (2)        Often (3)

  1. Grumpy
  2. Jealous
  3. Gloomy
  4. Impatient
  5. Tense
  6. Hostile
  7. Lonely
  8. Stressed out
  9. Annoyed
  10. Touchy

Please add the numbers and compute your score which can range from 10 to 30.


10-15. This guy is on a pretty even keel.

16-22.  He can be a bear to live with at times.

23-30.  You’ve got a man who suffers from Irritable Male Syndrome which could lead to depression or aggression if not treated.

If you need immediate help please contact me with your specific concerns.  You may also find my books and this blog post valuable:

Jekyll and Hyde, Irritable Males, and Attachment Love: What Men, and the Women Who Love Them, Need to Know

What has been your experience with IMS?  What have you done that has helped?  What questions do you have that we can explore together?

Please share your comments and questions below.

Together we heal.


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  1. jennerclay says:

    This appears to be an epidemic in older men.
    Heck, they even make films about it–“Grumpy Old Men.”
    It seems to me that the cause MUST be environmental,
    i.e., lack of nutrients, hormones or the poisoning of the
    food/water system. If this is true, then no amount of
    “talk” therapy is going to resolve the condition–at least
    not for very long. We need to figure out the CURE. It doesn’t
    help much to just identify the symptoms of the problem
    except to assure the companion to the irritable male that
    she’s not doing anything to deserve his terrible behavior
    he’s inflicting on her. Mr. Diamond, what is the cure?

  2. You’re right, there are many causes of IMS. I’ve found the most common include, hormonal fluctuations, changes in brain chemistry, increased stress, and loss of social support. Some of the underlying causes of these can be environmental. Before I can find a cure in a particular case, I have to know all about the person and what’s going on with them personally, interpersonally, socially, sexually, environmentally, economically, and spirituality. Then we can develop a plan to get at the root of what is going on.

  3. Hi,
    I wrote you before. I am from the Netherlands and read many of your books, and promoted them. I am the second wife since 4 yaers, we both were forced to divorce. 7 years agoI lost a daughter(14) and still have one (23) My husband is father of 5 children he loves them but rarely contacts them spontaniously, they must take the initiative. Still he suffers by missing them, however pretty normal that they do not show up so frequently since they are all older than 18 and studying.
    My husband is higly intelligent and I think he is a little bit of an Asperger type. He is a scientist.
    Well, me 56 in a bad work situation. I am a school teacher.
    He does not want enymore to adapt his way of living to a together thing. So, i have to fight for everything to let nice things happen. I suggest something…theater…walk holiday????? he start with refusing. He goes out with his collegues, most post doc students from all over the world. First he invited me to it but now he avoids that, and bever wants to plan a thing to do with me. It makes me feel so miserable and disappointed.
    His sons coming around he changes in to a boy of 14 in his behavior.
    We have had one weekend to work on our relation 1 and 1/ year ago. It helped but now he says….since he is back in the I am not interested in your being and you irritate me state of living
    he says…. that is no help it was just a big mistake

    he is an alcoholic
    2 liters beer every evening
    he can do without but does not want to
    that is: when we first met he said spontaniously “I want to quid drinking.
    He is not strong enough to do it and I think he hates seeing that I am not an addict to anything just
    love and understanding.

    My vieuw is he wants to show he does not need anything, he can do evrything, he wants to be admired by his working mates. He is in some point brilliant but he never finishes anything except ….me? His name G.B. Eijkel… can google him scientificky.
    I am stressed when he suddenly does not come home for dinner etc and comes home at 2 at night.
    he can be very nice, changes as soon as there is more people in the house.
    Is there hope? does this pass by
    should I give him up
    Ik feel lonely,lost desperate unlucky worried.
    He did not want to read the books.

    all good advice is so very welcome

    • Hello Judith, your pain comes across clearly. I have no answers but want to wish you well. Just like you, I am reading this website looking for answers about my own husband… these days everything I do seems to irritate him, he is critical and negative. Go on a holiday, go for a walk, do something with his free time that isn’t the newspaper, radio or tv? He will find some fatal flaw with the idea, always the answer is No. Everything, the newspaper, radio or TV holds his attention and he snaps if I interrupt him watching/listening. In our bed is an invisible line I must not cross. If I do he jerks away or pushes me away. During the day, If I touch him he pulls away like my touch is poison. But If people are around he is the very picture of geniality. I have asked him to read, seek couples counselling …but always No. I can’t see living like this so I am moving to my own place. I hope you can find a solution with your own husband.

  4. The thing I see with all of this is no one is making these men take responsibility for their actions. Childhood trauma, they don’t even know what that is but we are supposed to indulge this selfish, vicious, cruel, irresponsible behavior for what, a hope that they might return to something that echoes the men they once were. I say to hell with that the world is a large place full of opportunity for everyone to be happy. No person has to suffer at the hands of another unless they choose to do so. I say all of these things as a woman living with a man going through these behaviors and changes. Want him to stop the shit, pack your bags and get gone. One of two things will happen you are either on your way to a new life alone or he will come to his flipping senses. Instead of subscribing to this “inaction” proposed by people attempting to profit from your misery do something for yourself. Make a change don’t wait for things to change around you.

    • Erika, Understanding what is going on for us is part of the solution. But as you say, we need to also take responsibility for our future. Blaming others will never get us to where we want to do.

  5. NyHello I got married to the man of my dreams in may 2012 the day after our wedding he changed and since then has got worse we have never made love he won’t go out anywhere its a nightmare i we went to marriage councelling but he won’t go any more I feel for you I just thought it was me that had this. Best wishes liz

  6. Bonnie Baker says:

    My boyfriend and I lived in Novato CA, around 30 miles north of San Francisco. When he retired he wanted to move out of state so we decided on Albuquerque. In moving there we left all of our friends and social contacts. This was okay with me as I easily got involved with the things I love. My boyfriend, however, fell into a slump and would go back to California every few months to see his life-long friends. He got worse and worse. Depressed, irritable, moody, short temper. In other words, a man I have never known. We be together for 15 years. In November of 2012 we moved back to the San Francisco area. At first my boyfriend was happy and much more that was before he retired. We got together with our friends, went a few places and had fun again. But here we go again. In the last 2 weeks his back to being moody, depressed, irritable, be having to walk on egg shells but I never know what will set him off.
    We’ve talked about him a little bit and today, for the first time, he said he might be depressed. I don’t know what to do next. I’m seriously thinking of leaving him.

  7. Bonnie,

    Irritable male syndrome and male-type depression can certainly undermine a man’s well-being
    and cause the relationship to suffer. Before ending things, I’d suggest you both consider counseling. Many people work with me and come to see me in Willits. Others counsel by phone. I’m sure, too, that there are skilled people locally. If you’d like more information about my work, drop me a note or give a call.

  8. I’ve got news for you ladies – why is your husband depressed? Almost certainly because of you. Stop being such a naggy, whiny, bitch and he’ll probably perk up. Better still, go jump off a cliff and find a nice hot 20 year old for him before you do. He’ll feel better in no time. 🙂

    • Dealing with depression isn’t easy for anyone. Your comments indicate to me that you either don’t understand or you’re going through some of these problems yourself. Often men who are depressed express their pain through anger and irritability, and hostile humor. Hope you learn more and heal further.