How Can I Help Someone Who is Living With Depression?

Ask the Expert Patient Health Guide
  • Question:

     

    losing my grip wrote...

     

    How can I truly help someone who's been living with depression for years?

     

    my friend and I both live in a major metro area with world-class healthcare. for some reason, she has been unable to find a professional who can help her. her well-meaning family enables her to continue on her path to nowhere; it seems therapists do the bare minimum and have changed so many times over the years, no real relationship ever develops. part of me thinks she's just spoiled, and part of me knows there are definitely anxiety/addiction disorders in her family and are probably contributing. I feel like by just listening to her stories of bad judgement (rash actions coming from desparate lonliness) and "unmotivated" (my word) behavior only enables her. I can't bring her along to most activities because everyone I know who's met her thinks she's a drag, and isn't sympathetic to her antisocial personality. Many times I've been tempted to say "don't call me until you decide you're ready to get a life!" which sounds cruel...but would it help? (I'm her only friend left, outside of the people she's met in an outpatient group) like hitting bottom?

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:

    Interested to see if anyone can tell me anything insightful. thanks.

     

     

    Answer:

     

    Dear losing my grip,

     

    There's no "right" answer for this type of question. You raise an excellent point about enabling. There's a fine line between listening and being a friend and enabling.

     

    Even if you had a background in psychology / psychiatry, it would be difficult at best to know if her treatment has failed because it wasn't the treatment she needed or because she didn't really want help, didn't try, etc. These are things that are between therapist and patient, and nobody on the outside can really know. It would seem that excellent care should be available where you live.

     

    There's no way for us to know if making your "Don't call me" remark would be helpful or harmful, but I can certainly relate to your feelings.

     

    About the only concrete suggestion I can make is to talk with your friend very openly and honestly and ask how you can help. I've known of people to take family or close friends to their therapy appointments to get advice from the therapist. Maybe this is an option?

     

    Good luck,

     

    About Ask the Expert Patient:

     

    If you would like to ask a question about depression or living with depression, please write a SharePost and be sure to select “a question” in the drop-down menu next to “I want to create a SharePost that is a,” which is Step 2 on the SharePost creation screen.  I will post my responses to your questions each week.

     

    Please keep in mind that I am not a physician. I cannot diagnose or give medical advice. This section is for sharing information and offering support as a nonphysician “Expert Patient.”

     

    I hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q & A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full disclaimer.

Published On: October 15, 2007