Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Continue to Support Depressed Friend

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Continue to Support Depressed Friend

Article excerpt

DEAR MARY ANN: I have a friend who suffers from depression, sometimes very severe depression. This friend does what I've not seen anyone else do who is depressed -- she works, she socializes, she cares for others. In short, she does not bury her head in the sand and has told me she needs to continue to do this.

When alone, she can suffer even more. What helps the most is having people who will listen to her and spend time with her.

In listening to her myself, I see she has an understanding that others have issues and other commitments, too, and takes this into consideration.

Lately I have seen her take a turn for the worse, and I have learned that fewer people bother to take the time to ask how she's doing or just simply make time to spend with her.

She didn't want to tell me this or let me know she's spent a lot of time privately crying about it.

Too often when we hear the word depression, we step away, and I believe this should be taken as seriously as any other illness and issues.

I would love to let others know that this is a friend who needs to be loved and encouraged, but I don't want to overstep my boundaries or hers. What to do?

-- CARES DEEPLY

DEAR CARES DEEPLY: Depression wears many faces. First and foremost encourage your friend to get professional help. Being a supportive listener is important, but never stroke your own ego by thinking you can fix her problems with your sage advice. Don't assume that what would work for you would work for her. Trying to be Helpful Hanna can backfire.

Your friend's judgment may be cloudy and distorted in spite of her busy outward appearance. It is her decision if she wants you to draw others into a support group, so ask her permission before sharing her story with anyone, otherwise it smells like gossip.

Negativity and depressed thinking are contagious, and that may be a reason others are spending less time with her. …

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