Try and come up with social and non-demanding activities for said friend to be part of.
What John said. Plus, keep up a steady stream of contact--try to make a point of emailing/calling/whatever once a day.
It depends a lot on how well I know them, but I would often either offer myself for any help, call them up once every few days to keep tabs on them, or go to their house and force them to spend time in my company. If I know them really well, I might force them to come out of their house with me and do something in the world.
If I don't know them that well, I would probably only use the first option...if I even realized that they were depressed, which I might not.
2007-09-18 10:35 am (UTC)
ya, that's a hard one.
I've got a friend who has been depressed and angry for a very long time. I've offered to help in as much as I can, encouraging him to seek help, offering an ear, giving him contacts for counselors and such.
the problem is they first need to be self-aware enough to either know, or understand when pointed out to them, that they have a problem. then they have to want to get better, and more importantly, to put in the work necessary to do so. the latter being the most important, and one that no one can give them.
Listen. Witness. Pray. Ask if they're getting professional help.
2007-09-18 12:21 pm (UTC)
It depends on the nature of the depression and on the nature of the friend. We label all sorts of things with the word "depression," as others have noted. So step one is to figure out which flavor I think I'm seeing, and step two is to figure out which type of support I can offer for that particular friend in their particular circumstance.
Support is the key, but it can be really tricky to figure out what kind of support. In my recent experience of what I've been calling depression, many of the things people were offering me as their version of support got re-interpreted as yet another thing I was obligated to "do something" about when I had no cope to do anything, and my feeling that I had failed to respond "properly" just fed the beast. Through the filter of depression, concern can get read as judgemental, and can lead to a feedback loop that one is not deserving of other people's concern because one can't just stop being depressed. In other words, "Jeez, people, stop wasting your time on me, I'm not worth it."
So I guess I'd try to find out as much as I can about what's going on, and then figure out how much I can be there for them, be caring, and be patient. It's a long process, and it's easy to burn yourself out giving support.
2007-09-18 01:19 pm (UTC)
put me down for another "it depends".
i like to help, but what "help" is can vary wildly depending on circumstance and person and state of the rmd.
What she said.
But I *do* like to say something to the person, that they've been noticed by someone. Just to open the window to what it might be that would help, even if it is nothing.
It depends on my relationship to that particular friend and the way I come to find out they're depressed. I have several friends whom I know at the moment are depressed and who I'm equally well aware don't want anyone meddling. I try to let them know I'm available if they want to call me, but otherwise I stay the heck out of it.
Others want an ear or just to know that someone knows and shares their sense of things. A few want help or resources, but mostly if they've gotten to that state they're capable of finding such things for themselves.
I am joining the "it depends" chorus ... how close I am to the friend, how well I think I understand the situation, how serious/desperate the situation seems, etc. At a bare minimum, I try to have my shit together enough to reach out, avoid putting any social or emotional pressure on the person yet offer time, listening, hugs, etc. I try to offer support to a spouse/partner too if there is one or consult with mutual friends ... if I know the person pretty well and/or we're close, I try to be a lot more active.
Of course, the "have my shit together" part of that - not being so overwhelmed by my own bs so that I notice my friend's depression in a timely fashion - has been a bit more challenging lately. Sigh.
By the way, I think you happen to be really, really good at being there for friends-in-need. In my personal experience, you manage to be very present without adding any pressure, you listen EXTREMELY well, you don't invalidate the person's personal logic or emotional state while offering encouragement (not platitudes) and suggestions for steps of varying size that will help change the situation (in ways small or big). I love you