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nikipedia's avatar

What is the best way to deal with a friend going through a bout of depression?

Asked by nikipedia (27481points) March 1st, 2011

If the person is isolating him/herself, should you work extra hard to try to make plans, or be respectful of the desire to be left alone?

What about if the person is extremely cranky and irritable and hard to be around? Do you try to put up with it, or protect yourself and leave the person alone? What if the person is a coworker or someone you have to see every day not by choice?

Any stories, thoughts, etc appreciated.

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10 Answers

xjustxxclaudiax's avatar

When I was depressed, I often wanted to be alone…but there were days I wish I had someone to talk to..Just someone who’d listen no matter how much it didn’t make sense. I wished people were patient with me instead of giving up and walking away. No matter how much I disagreed with it, I really like it when someone told me things would get better..Because its true. There was something my friend once said to me that really helped, I’m not quite sure how he said it but it was something like this.-
There’s no point in wasting time over something you cant control, No amount of crying, No amount of sorrow will ever change it, No matter how much you wish it really would. Crying over something and having people feel sorry for you will only build the hole you put yourself in. And the only way out is if you try to find that light, that drive, that you once had when you were happy. Just because something bad happened doesn’t mean that your whole world should come crumbling down. Your young, your strong, deny it or not, you will get better…No matter what, time will heal all wounds, and if you really want to get better, try, and try a little harder. I know you can do it. I got faith in you. No matter what, I’ll be here to help whenever you need me. I’ll be your ears, your arms, your rock..But you have to try to. And I’ll try if you try…
...I love him for that.

janbb's avatar

I would try to spend quiet time alone with them to the extent that you are comfortable with that and just say you are around to lend support but not badger them. If they are amenable to activities like walks or watching DVDs, that can take them out of themselves. However, don’t become their sole support to the point where it drags you down. If a friend becomes abusive in their depression, I would say that that is unacceptable and that you can’t be around when they are like that. With a co-worker, I would try to get the work done without letting them get you too bogged down in their problems.

Soubresaut's avatar

I haven’t been depressed, but when I’ve been really sad/low, what I’ve wanted most is someone I trust who’s willing to just sit with me, not feel the need to pry or try to fix or anything. I dunno how true this is for others, but that’s usually what I’m wanting. (Although I’ll never admit it.) Someone who doesn’t find silence uncomfortable.
So many people try to pull stuff out of me that I start to make things up just to please them and then I can’t remember what’s true or not… again, not sure how much this is true in general, but it’s my personal experience.

If you want to help… I wouldn’t go out of my way to do things with them, because we all know when others are doing excess for us, but I would be sure to give him invitations on things that you’re already doing and want, or don’t mind, his company for. Even if he turns them down, I’d make a practice of offering. That way he knows he’s got someone consistently there that he can go to. (Even when I turned things down, I liked knowing someone wanted me for more than just a project to work on. But again, I haven’t been depressed so I can’t fully speak for depression.)

As for the irritability, how I would handle it really depends on the intentions. (But I read everything on intentions, so it’s no different.) If you think he’s using it to keep distance, or to connect to people without them being close, or to keep himself down, etc, then realize the insults are empty words with a different target than making you feel down or bad. If it’s because he’s trying to drag others down with him… I’d be careful, I dunno what to say for sure then. Maybe just gently deflect them. If, for example (I have no idea if this example would work in any way, but still) he says “I hate your shirt” go something like “oh, I’m sorry to hear that… because I like it” ...? Not word for word because it’s rather awkward dialogue, but the gist.

I dunno if any of that’s best, but I know it’s what I would want and what I would do.

marinelife's avatar

I think it depends (when I would walk away) with how much the person was willing to acknowledge their depression and get help with it.

I do think you should persist in getting them out if possible. Perhaps a walk or a run (which can help depression).

Ask them if they have plans to see a doctor.

Sorry about the crabbiness. I t kind of goes with the territory. I think some honest feedback would help with that aspect of things.

Facade's avatar

How about asking them how they would want you to be and then comply (within reason)? That’s what I wish my loved ones would do with me.

I also think making soft suggestions would be helpful. Like, if you’ve noticed they haven’t left the house in a while, you could say something like “Hey, wanna go to _____ with me?” It’s much better than telling them they need to go out or being overbearing.

Carly's avatar

When I’m in a deep depression, the only way I can get out of it is finding some kind of inspiration on my own. I’m not sure if this is the case with others, but if I don’t feel like I came to my own “ah-ha” moment by myself, then I feel like I’m still leaning on others for help (which is how I get depressed in the first place).

Sometimes this takes a day, sometimes it’s taken well over a year. I don’t know if I would suggest drugs though. I’ve had two friends who took two different meds for depression. One of them tried to kill herself while on it, the other actually succeeded. :(

I think if you see good in them, you should remind them of those things. Otherwise, I would just keep knowing that eventually they’ll turn around. No one likes to be in that situation, but sometimes we feel its the only way we can be at that time.

nikipedia's avatar

To clarify about the irritability, let’s say the person already knows s/he is unusually irritable and feels badly about it, but can’t seem to help it.

12Oaks's avatar

I like to be left alone. Am constantly going through them there bouts, and when I say I want to be left alone, I say it in plain English (like that) and mean what is said, hoping others will understand easily.

MilkyWay's avatar

I completely 100 % agree with @DancingMind ,,, I know just what you mean, someone who won’t ask awkward questions and will just be there, not uncomfortable to not say anything.

tranquilsea's avatar

When I was deeply depressed (suicidally so) I rationally knew that being alone wasn’t good. But I didn’t want to burden anyone with all the negative emotions I was feeling and I knew I needed to be around someone.

I had friends who had been depressed themselves and just pushed when they needed to push. They wouldn’t take no for an answer and I really appreciated it. They were my link to living sometimes. Because they stayed close to me they knew when I took a turn for the worse. It was those times that I slapped a smile on my face and told them I was ok but I was really trying to push them away because I was suicidal. They talked and cajoled and got me to agree to being hospitalized. I would be dead without them.

People like this are few and far between, sadly. Most of my friends ran in the other direction.

If you know that the crankiness is caused by the depression and acknowledged by your friend try to not take it to heart. Tell them that you know what they are saying is the depression talking. Tell them you care for them and then change the subject and talk about something neutral or, try humour. Humour is a natural (temporary) cure for depressive feelings.

You are a special person. The world needs more people like you. Your friend is lucky to have you.

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