What to Do If Your Friend Is Depressed

depressed friendA friend who was once upbeat and social has lately been withdrawn. She seems lethargic, especially introverted, neglectful of her appearance. It’s as though she’s building a thick wall around herself. You know she’s hurting and you’re worried about her. You feel helpless and want to help her.

How to help a depressed friend

Have you ever asked yourself:

“Is my friend depressed?”

If you can answer “Yes, my friend is depressed” definitely, the most important thing you can do for a depressed friend is to just listen. It may be difficult to resist the temptation to give advice or try to cheer her up, but someone who’s down benefits most from an active listener. You want to enable her to express emotions, organize thoughts and perhaps come closer to finding her own solutions.

Try to listen with compassion, rather than judgment. Depression often brings forth a less than worthy experience of one’s self and criticism will only make your friend feel unsafe and rejected and offer more support to the story of depression.

Don’t do the following; they’re real conversation stoppers:

  • You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you so depressed?
  • Do you feel better now?
  • Try to think about all those other people who are worse off than you.
  • You think you’ve got problems…
  • You need to get out more.
  • You don’t look depressed.
  • Go out and get some fresh air… that always makes me feel better.
  • You need a boy/girl-friend, hobby, baby, new job…
  • Just don’t think about it.

It’s not up to you to pull your friend out of depression; however, you can listen, observe and offer love and compassion. Sometimes helping with mundane tasks can ease a friend’s burden. Since simple chores may be a struggle, washing a friend’s dishes, food shopping, straightening a messy house, or simply offering an invitation to go out or dropping by with a good story can offer tremendous relief.

Remember, depression gets people thinking that they do not deserve friends. The best way to stand against depression is to let your friend know that he or she is a worthy and lovable friend.

“Some individuals may require maintenance ECT (M ECT), which is delivered on an outpatient basis at a rate usually of one treatment weekly, tapered off to bi weekly to monthly for up to one year.”

How Family And Friends Can Help

“Psychotherapy is almost always the first treatment of choice, except in cases where depressive symptoms are so severe or critical that immediate relief is necessary to restore functioning and to prevent immediate and severe consequences.”

The most important thing anyone can do for a man who may have depression is to help him get to a doctor for a diagnostic evaluation and treatment. First, try to talk to him about depression help him understand that depression is a common illness among men and is nothing to be ashamed about. Perhaps share this booklet with him. Then encourage him to see a doctor to determine the cause of his symptoms and obtain appropriate treatment.

Occasionally, you may need to make an appointment for the depressed person and accompany him to the doctor. Once he is in treatment, you may continue to help by encouraging him to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to lift (several weeks) or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. This may also mean monitoring whether he is taking prescribed medication and/or attending therapy sessions. Encourage him to be honest with the doctor about his use of alcohol and prescription or recreational drugs, and to follow the doctors orders about the use of these substances while on antidepressant medication.

The second most important thing is to offer emotional support to the depressed person. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage him in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage the feelings he may express, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Report them to the depressed persons doctor. In an emergency, call 911. Invite him for walks, outings, to the movies, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, religious or cultural activities, but do not push him to undertake too much too soon. The depressed person needs diversion and company, but too many demands can increase feelings of failure.

Do not accuse the depressed person of laziness or of faking illness, or expect him to snap out of it. Eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring him that, with time and help, he will feel better.

Medication as a first-line course of treatment should be considered for children and adolescents with severe symptoms that would prevent effective psychotherapy, those who are unable to undergo psychotherapy, those with psychosis, and those with chronic or recurrent episodes.

Research has enabled many men, women, and young people with cancer to survive and to lead fuller, more productive lives, both while they are undergoing treatment, and afterwards.

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