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Coping with a depressed friend

Published: April 10, 2016 | By | 23 Replies Continue Reading
A young woman can no longer sustain her current relationship with a depressed friend.



I have a best friend who suffers from depression and anxiety. I really do care for her and love her like a sister, and am always there for her for everything, and I mean everything.

I am slowly beginning to feel emotionally drained and feel her anxiety and depression. I always have to reassure her about everything. I think she realizes the negative effect that she has on me and has asked me whether she makes me unhappy. I told her no, and that I will always be with her no matter what.

The truth is, I’m tired, so tired and so emotionally drained. She is so dependent on my affection and care and I hate telling her my feelings because she is so emotionally sensitive and dependent.

I have given my day and night to this girl. I really do care for her I do but I am slowly losing it. I feel so guilty for feeling like this and lying to her about how I feel. I don’t want to end my friendship with her. I’m just so confused. She makes me feel like I’m not enough and makes me feel useless, but she always tells me she’s glad to have me and thanks me all the time.

Thanks for listening. I really needed to get it off my chest.

Signed, Jessica


Hi Jessica,

You sound like a very loyal friend. You haven’t mentioned whether or not your friend is in treatment but if not, the most important thing you can do for her is to urge her to seek professional care.

If your friend is already seeing someone, she many need more intensive therapy or a different kind of therapy than she is receiving if her symptoms don’t seem to be getting any better.

Don’t forget that you have a responsibility to take care of yourself. Spending long periods of time with—and being at the beck and call—of someone who is depressed and dependent can be very draining. Moreover, it might not be the best thing for your friend because she needs to learn how to manage her emotions so she can become more independent.

I would recommend that you share your sense of exhaustion with your friend. I can tell from your letter that you are a very sensitive person who can deliver this message with kindness and compassion. Tell her that you treasure your friendship and want to help but that she needs more than you can give. You can be a good friend but you can’t be her therapist, and you need some downtime for yourself.

See if you can figure out ways together to help her to get more treatment and support—and if appropriate, involve her family or other friends in her care.

If you don’t have this discussion, I am afraid that you will burn out and have nothing left to give her as a friend.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Also, please be sure to read these prior posts on the blog:

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Category: Dealing with friends with health and/or emotional problems

Comments (23)

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  1. DarleneH says:

    Jessica, it is a dilemma, to be sure. Balancing another persons needs with your own needs. This is true whether the other person is a parent, friend, child, coworker, etc.

    You have a right to lead a full life, to grow and become who you are capable of being. Does that mean forgetting about people you care about? No, but nor does it mean you should allow your own needs and potential to be lost. This is the time in your life to spread your wings and fly. It is your friends job to figure out how to spread her own wings, not yours.

    Here is a quote from Kahil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ that conveys this concept really beautifully:

    Even those who limp go not backward. But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.

    In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
    But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
    And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
    But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, “Wherefore are you slow and halting?”
    For the truly good ask not the naked, “Where is your garment?” nor the houseless, “What has befallen your house?”

  2. lottie says:

    Hello Jessica,

    So there is much more to your problem,like living with her.Under the circumstances I think the FIB you told her can be forgiven.

    Do you go out much together? Do you both work?

    It would be easy to say move out but I think as you are old friends and she cares for you why not have a real chat with her explaining both lots of problems…hers and yours. You have one another, both suffering.

    Getting out of your home will certainly be good for both of you.Force yourselves to take control of the problems together.

    Make a real effort to do more things together out of the home.You could bolster each others confidence going for walks,having a laugh about nothing. Good friends can easily laugh at the most silly of things. Make sure you both have at least one laugh a day ,for starters.

    I will tell you something that is funny to a friend and I when we were at school together,back in the last century.

    We used to start laughing in Maths.Actually we were always laughing. There was a really clever girl in our class,who knew all the answers. We used to laugh at her (cruel yes). She knew the answer to some maths question …Pi r squared. We unknown to all christened her PI. That is all we ever said to each other to make us laugh ,just PI if there was nothing funnier at the time. Even now when I ring her I call her PI.This happened years ago and still makes us laugh.

    I don’t want or mean to trivialise your problems but I do feel sure that some laughter and fresh air will help. Medication isn’t always the best treatment which nowadays seems to be the easy option. Have a laugh if it is only at me talking what might seem like rubbish.Good luck from Lottie and best wishes from PI

  3. Paula15 says:

    All good advice for someone who is not severely depressed. However if the person is severely depressed, your suggestion of seeking HELP from therapist is the only one that could be a possibility given the state of mind. If it’s a situational depression, yes all the others suggestions you made are great for getting yourself out there and changing things up. If the depression is a mental health issue that has neurological in nature and has been around for a long time, the activities you have suggested are of no value. When you’re severely depressed you can’t get up out of your bed to take a shower, never mind volunteer, join clubs, read motivational books or take courses. Good grief! So again, we still don’t know what this friend’s situation is and how severe it is. Or what she has done to make it better. Or if it’s situational or a lifelong mental issue.

    • Salstarat says:

      Paula15, I disagree with you completely. The point is no one can help someone get over depression but themselves. Depression is an intrinsic thing – I know this because I have sufferers in my own family. Therefore, people who suffer from depression need to make a concerted effort to seek help and not put the burden on others. Actually, getting out and seeking to connect, volunteering et al is very good advice – I have seen the results work with others. The solution is NOT to lay around in bed all day feeling sorry for yourself – nor is it popping pills. Get up, get out and live …. yes, it takes REAL COURAGE; yes, it takes EFFORT but what are the alternatives?

      • Paula15 says:

        I think the hardest thing to wrap the mind around, when one is severely depressed, is that there is actually a reason to keep going, to keep trying and to believe that it will be better. And that it matters that they are alive and that they get better. Support is always important, but of course as you say in the end, the person must do the work themselves. Of course they do. It’s still nice to know that people care though or it’s easier for the depressed person to say “well, what’s the point of getting better, no one cares anyway so what’s waiting for me when I get better?”. I absolutely believe that medication can help at some point, but certainly not as the first action to take. Anxiety often comes with depression and no matter how much you push the person into volunteering or public spaces in general, the anxiety might be overwhelming. This is no longer a matter of courage or effort. It’s a matter of simply not being able to stand being around others in the current emotional state that the person is in which leads to anxiety attacks. Medication can dull the intensity of the anxiety and allow the person to start to become more sociable. Hopefully by time it’s all over, the meds can be reduced or removed completely once the depression is under control.

      • lottie says:

        It depends how long this friend has been depressed,and was there a cause.Something terrible might have happened,we don’t know.

        This person might just need a “helping hand” of encouragement to bring her out of the misery.

        Fresh air and exercise can and will usually help make a difference.

        Quite agree popping pills is not the answer as much as the experts will disagree ie Doctors and their cronies. The drug industry is a multi £billion industry it is not in their interests for us to all feel deliriously happy.THEY would be out of a job. Lottie

  4. Salstarat says:

    Jessica, sometimes people like your friend need to get up off their behinds and start helping THEMSELVES! There really is a limit to how much you can do to help someone who keeps on and on and on being depressed. Stand back and evaluate the friendship and ask yourself these questions:

    – is she REALLY depressed or is she attention seeking?
    – does your friend show signs that she manipulates other people in her family or circle of friends?
    – do you suspect that she is using depression (real or imaginary) to control and/or manipulate you?
    – does she play the role of “victim” with everyone, or just you?
    – is your friend ALWAYS depressed or does she move in and out of depression, eg would you say she could be bipolar?
    – if she is really depressed, why doesn’t she seek psychiatric help?
    – does your friend EVER ask after your welfare? Does she show interest in you and your family or is it all about HER?

    Sometimes these type of needy people are the ones who are being incredibly self-absorbed and selfish. Suggest to her the following steps in order to get HERSELF out of her malingering melancholy:

    1) Seek HELP from a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist or counsellor;

    2) Become a VOLUNTEER and start helping OTHER people who are less fortunate. This will prevent her from being so self absorbed and when you come into contact with people out there who are less fortunate (and there a millions out there), it may make her realise just how lucky she is and to be thankful for the things she HAS instead of being depressed over the things she does not have;

    3) Join a gym or a walking club – nothing like regular exercise to get the endorphins that make you feel good about yourself;

    4) Join a book club or a social club. Get out and MEET PEOPLE and make contact with the community around her. Psychiatrists have proven that regular contact with other people keeps one “connected” and will increase her circle of acquaintances;

    5) Borrow or purchase some SELF HELP or MOTIVATIONAL books to inspire her to take positive actions in her life to improve herself;

    6) Undertake a course at TAFE, learn a language, take up art – do something to extend her knowledge. This will give her an outside interest and increase her self esteem.

    In the meantime, be a good friend to her but also give YOURSELF plenty of space between visits. Don’t allow her to drag you down into a vortex of morose depression … there is an old saying which is very true: MISERY LOVES COMPANY … don’t allow this to happen to you. Stay positive and surround yourself with POSITIVE, happy people.

    If she REFUSES to help herself, re-think the friendship. Sorry, but sometimes you will find that there are people out there that actually revel in negativity and use it as a method to cling on to friends and manipulate them … when this behaviour is rewarded, they keep on doing it. Don’t be a party in the reinforcement of this negative behaviour!

    Good luck!

    • N says:


      I agree with you on this post but not on the one up higher about what you learned about depression from your own family. I say this because if your family members were like the people you describe here, then your advice that they shouldn’t stay in bed popping pills and need to learn to take care of themselves is true. But I don’t think what you have listed here is actually depression! You seem to be listing people who are playing a victim and could take care of themselves but refuse to. Real depression is not like that at all. like you said, I would check and make sure which is the case without making any assumptions, and act accordingly.

  5. Paula15 says:

    Hi Jessica, if she’s “like a sister”, then deal with it the way you would with a real sister. Would you give up, or because she is family would you continue to try to help, in some way? Maybe that’s the best way to look at it.

  6. MEM says:

    Why does everyone these days think that friendship is all about THEM? IT’S NOT. GET OVER YOURSELF. How would you want someone to treat YOU if YOU were in the same level of pain and trouble? Get your head out of the place where the sun doesn’t shine and START THINKING ABOUT SOMEONE BESIDES YOURSELF. PEOPLE THESE DAYS MAKE ME SICK WITH THEIR TOTAL SELFISHNESS AND UTTER SELF-ABSORBPTION.

    • Paula15 says:

      I don’t think this particular case is one of selfishness although the details aren’t enough to determine that. Obviously it bothers her enough to ask for help or advice on this type of forum. Otherwise she’d just say “to hell with it, I can’t stand this constant depression, I’m done with her” and walk away guilt-free. You don’t know how long this has been going on, is it weeks, months or endless years? I have suffered from depression and I have helped other people who are depressed and I have also taken care of a mom with cancer. And I did become depressed as a result of it also because not only was I losing my mom, I was exhausted emotionally and mentally. No family to help. This is where cancer organizations advise that one takes a respite from a situation such as this so that the caregiver can carry on. They HAVE to take care of themselves first. However, if this depression that is the topic of this discussion has only been for a short while, a few months, then indeed, that isn’t true dedication to a friend when one is already tired of her depressive mood. I understand people who have never felt depressed not being able to relate completely to someone who is, but I don’t excuse it as a reason to get out of a situation. One only needs to think of the saddest day ever in your life, then multiply that by 2x, 4x, 10x – and that is what depression is like. And imagining it being like that every day with no thoughts of a bright future. This is what depression can be like. Again it’s a matter of getting more details about this particular situation. We don’t even know if the depressed individual is getting help already or just relies on her friend completely and totally. That can be draining IF she’s not trying to do anything for herself. There is NO ONE who can withstand constant emotional turmoil and caring physically for someone else without a need for a break however small. That is not selfish. This is surviving so one can continue to help the friend out.

    • Paula15 says:

      I DO however agree with you in the sense that I find a LOT more people being self-absorbed in general, in life than was the case years ago. It’s an age now where the younger people especially have somewhat of an attention deficit disorder in the sense that they cannot concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time. They cannot commit to something and stick with it. If they try to get something done and there is no change in a certain period of time, well then they’ve had enough of that and they’re off to another experience. They do this with jobs, with projects, and mostly likely with friends that do not live up to expectations. Now I know it’s not only young people that have this trait, but it certainly is more obvious nowadays then before whereby you stuck with a friend no matter what, because it’s the right thing to do.

  7. Paula15 says:

    There really shouldn’t be advice given when there is very little information to work on. How old is she, is there something that has caused the depression or has she always been like this, did it start after something happened in her life, is she on meds and seeing a doctor about it, is she going to therapy, how often do you see her and talk to her and where do you do it, does she work or is she at home all the time? Think of the things a therapist would ask you in helping you deal with your dilemma. Only then will you get advice that applies directly to your situation rather than generic answers as have been given. No one knows what to base their answers on so it’s not specific. Please provide more information, but most importantly take care of yourself first by going out and having fun with other friends and doing other activities which will re-energize you and give you some strength to work with. Depression always involves guilt and insecurities, so if you do leave her as a friend honestly I can only see her spiralling downwards from that. However, you cannot drain yourself completely either. Please let us know more details about the situation. She must be able to help herself also though. This cannot be all your work and none of her working towards a solution. If she is seeing a counsellor…why not go to one session with her. If it’s a good therapist, they will undoubtedly suggest that you pace your relationship with your friend, taking time out for yourself and not being in such constant contact that it becomes overwhelming. You both can talk it out, and hearing that you need breaks from her through a therapist will allow her to receive that information easier than if you told her yourself, which makes it more personal. Do you see what I’m saying? If she’s not seeing a therapist…well then, we know what the first line of treatment is..

    • Jessica says:

      Hey Paula15,
      My friend has seen domestic violence at home, and it still carries on. She always had been very anxious because of this from a very young age (I’ve known her since the age of 11, she is 19 now). She is definitely not selfish, most of the time. She is always there to hear me out and help me with my problems. The fact that I suffer from BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) makes matters worse. I am no one to deny her efforts to help me. I want to be with her and help her through everything, I really do mean it. If I had a healthy mind maybe I could cope with it all better and be more of a help. We also live together as we are university students, and this is where it gets difficult for me. I give my day and night to her, I am with her through all her anxiety attacks, her worst days, everything. She’s had her depression for about 3 years, maybe more, but as I said, her anxiety was always there is just got worse and worse. I’ve told her to go and seek professional help, tried to reassure her. But the stigma that surrounds mental health really concerns her and makes her uneasy, and the fact that she has anxiety doesn’t make it easy for her. I do feel like I help her, I hope I’m not wrong. I am really bad when it come to explaining how I feel. My friend is so sensitive I just cannot express myself from the fear that I’ll hurt her..

      • Shelly says:

        It is true there is a lot of stigma about mental illness but to deny yourself help because of it does not improve one’s help. I know I got diagnosed with Bipolar depression and do not regret getting the help I needed.
        I was wrongly diagnosed for over 25 years and on the wrong meds until I found out I was bipolar at 59.
        Your friend needs professional help so forget about the stigma it exists either way. Good luck to you and your friend

      • Paula15 says:

        Hi Jessica

        I believe that you are trying your very best to help your friend and I understand how difficult it is while you’re trying to help yourself. I think you are sincere in your efforts and that you deeply care about the health and welfare of your dear friend and that you have put in a lot of effort to keep her head above water all this time. I have written a lot below, not intending to, but I just let out what was in my mind and my heart. I truly feel for your situation and I believe you are a strong person because you’ve reached out to others for advice. That is a great step you took because you want to take care of yourself and of your friend. And you want to be happy. And you WILL be, don’t doubt that one minute. I’ve written down some thoughts and there might be duplication in what I write so I’m sorry if some parts seem redundant.

        Thank you for expanding on your situation. Living with the person whom you’re trying to help does complicate the matter a bit as you are not really able to escape the situation or take a breather from it for any extended period of time. In addition you have your own disorder to deal with. So you both are battling several uphill situations, however it’s not something you both can’t overcome. It will take a lot of strength and courage and a different way of viewing the issue. You’ve been diagnosed with BDD so I’m assuming you’ve already dealt with doctors and hopefully therapists to help you with ways to deal with it (?).

        Of course I wouldn’t recommend that you move out or quit the friendship, especially because the both of you have been so close for so many years and she trusts you. You both are important to each other, and although you both have your own hardships you both also understand how difficult it can be to get through things like this. I cannot stress how important it is that your friend get over this resistance to seeking help. If no one else knows about her depression except you, who would know if she seeked out help with her doctor and a therapist? If no one else were to find out which seems to be part of her fear of going (the stigma) then what else would prevent her from seeking help? Everyone is human. Everyone needs help in one way or another. Her anxiety and depression are not her fault. Living in a home with domestic violence can have serious consequences for a person’s mental health. Given that you both are students you cannot let this scenario continue. The time that you have given to helping her, talking to her, supporting her, calming her down, makes you a wonderful friend to be sure, just as she has been good to you as you state. BUT, your studies are very important also. Your peace of mind is important, and given that you have your own disorder to deal when you don’t feel strong yourself makes it of utmost importance that she start to help herself. She cannot be allowed to take on a victim mentality (if she hasn’t already). She needs to be set on a productive path, one that will lead her to a professional that can help guide her and start her feeling better about herself.

        As much as you want to help her, I don’t think it’s the best scenario for you to continue doing so, at least not to the point that you have been so far. If you’re giving up so much of your time to her, and yet she refuses to get help, then she needs to grow up and make a mature decision to help herself. She’s a young adult now and needs to start taking care of her mental health. And part of that mature decision is to recognize how this is affecting you also. She obviously does sense something is wrong otherwise she wouldn’t have asked you if she makes you unhappy and no doubt you gave her the answer she was hoping for – that no, it’s not bothering you. The stigma of getting help is such a sad thing because no one would think twice if she was getting therapy for cancer or some disease. I can tell you that university students in particular, researchers are finding, have tremendous pressure nowadays leading to a lot of them becoming severely depressed because of this pressure, some becoming suicidal. There are stats that claim that between 1 out every 3 to 1 out of every 4 students deals with some sort of mental/emotional turmoil during this time in their life. And yet young people refuse to go for help. Sometimes they think they will ‘outgrow’ their situation, or get used to it or they try to bury it thinking it won’t affect them or they just don’t want anyone to know or they look at it as a weakness of character. But you can’t run from something like this and more importantly you can’t deny yourself help in order to make the rest of the people happy. After all, they are just strangers and not important. This is the way she must start to think. And she cannot deny herself help because she thinks that the world will look at her differently. She has to take on the attitude of “to hell with everyone, I need to do what’s best for me, not impress the world, and what’s best for me is to seek out help so I can feel better and ease this constant pain I’m in”. I understand how difficult it might be to develop this way of thinking, but she has to ask herself if she wants to continue living this way. She is miserable and unhappy, she is anxious and no doubt it’s not easy to live with. Seeing a therapist can be very refreshing; someone with an objective opinion and with new ideas of how to cope and deal with her symptoms. It might be one of the most positive things she has gone through. Can you recommend someone for her? Have you gone yourself and been helped by a therapist for your own disorder? If the first one doesn’t feel right, then try another one. You both have enough stress and pressure just to survive and it takes a lot of perseverance and strength to be a student. I admire the hard work that is put into studying as I know from experience it’s not easy. You cannot continue to add the stress of taking care of a friend who is resistant to change (therapy) and think that your studies will not suffer, if they haven’t already. I understand how domestic violence can affect a young person who has lived with it. I have lived with it myself when I was young and in my case it was my dad always fighting with my mom. I worried about her every day but didn’t realize how much it had affected my life, my emotional sense of well-being until well into my 30’s. I didn’t understand why I had so much anxiety for a long time. You both have at least realized that her situation, her anxiety and depression stems from her home life. I’m going to assume that not only did the constant stress of watching violence at home create the anxiety, but the fact that it still continues is a constant in your friend’s mind. She’s worried and that makes it worse because she doesn’t have the power to stop things that are happening. If I am making the wrong assumption I apologize.

        The fact that you have asked her to go to therapy and she refuses means you have to put your foot down. No you don’t want to hurt her feelings. I understand that. But you also cannot continue to bring yourself down in the effort to raise her up. There comes a point where self-preservation is the key. Continuing to drain yourself in order to support her while she doesn’t not make an effort to help herself is not going to end well. Eventually, you will become resentful that you’ve given of yourself so much, your studies will suffer, and you will start to become angry with her. It is inevitable. You need to take care of yourself. Call them mental health days; time away from her every once in a while will help. Stay at the university and study rather than coming home. Go out with other people. Everyone in life needs mental health days not just people with diagnosed problems. You need to go out and do things with other people and get away from the sadness that you’re being inundated with. You need to laugh even if it means laughing at yourself. This is how you build resilience. And believe me Jessica, building resilience is one of the most important things you can do in life because it will carry you through all the hard times that you will come upon in your long life ahead.

        And most importantly, you need to come clean with your roommate. You’re best friends and she needs to step up to the plate also and understand that you both have problems that are wearing you both down. You don’t need to tell her you weren’t completely honest with her when she asked if she was making you unhappy. But you can say that you’ve been thinking about her question and that you have concluded that you are feeling tired and drained because you are fighting your own demons, so to speak, and trying to help her and trying to study. And then agree to make a commitment that both of you try to make things better by possibly going out more, going for walks and set up goals to treat yourself so that you have something to look forward to at the end of the week or the month. But most importantly, she HAS to go see her doctor about her depression/anxiety because it will absolutely not go away by itself. It will only get worse as time goes on because the way the brain is built is that the longer one continues to think along a certain path and react a certain way to stress/anxiety, the deeper this path is neurologically carved into the brain. That means that even if circumstances changed for her and she were to try to start feeling better, her brain’s automatic reaction would still be to become anxious and stressed regardless of the scenario. You don’t want this to continue for her and you don’t want to see her in more pain than she already is. You are both lucky you have each other. Living alone makes it difficult to go out and get help, to go out and do anything for that matter. As others have suggested, and within reason as your school schedule no doubt takes up a lot of time, get yourself involved in various groups, or something that allows you to be active and have fun together. SHE needs to read up on ways to deal with anxiety because although this stemmed from her home life her way of dealing with it requires some professional help. Reading up on how others deal with anxiety can be helpful. Joining a self-help group can also be a positive experience and can be recommended by a therapist. I continue to read about yoga and meditation being helpful for anxiety and depression. Is that something that you both could take up together? It’s something you can share as an activity.

        Whatever stigma that might exist when it comes to mental health, know this for certain. Everyone, and I mean every single person no matter how ‘together’ they seem, how on top of things they are and how happy they appear – everyone goes through rough times in life. Everyone goes through being anxious and unhappy and uncertain and insecurities, some more than others. No one gets out of this life unscathed. But how you deal with these issues is what ends up being the most important thing. A therapist will give your friend the tools she needs to deal with her issues. I realize that if things don’t change at her home and domestic violence continues, it will be difficult for her to be completely at ease, but she will become better and be able to deal with her anxiety in a productive manner and not let the anxiety control her. What you are going through and what your friend is going through can be helped, at least the intensity of the feelings can be diminished substantially. If you are up to it, maybe offer to go with her to her first appointment as long as she commits to going to a therapist. It is good for the therapist to meet you as you both are each other’s support system. You will be encouraged to speak freely and your friend will learn to deal with her anxieties. Medication is the last resort of course, and others have offered ideas about how you both can get out and do things that are enjoyable and get her mind off that endless path of self-absorption. See a comedy show. Start to enjoy life again, learn to laugh again, if just for that night. If in the end the therapist recommends medication, then do NOT let people stigmatize that in your minds also. Sometimes it IS necessary, when all else fails, to get the anxiety under control, so that the depression is lessened and she feels like going out and doing more and that life has some possibilities. And as she gets better, the meds can be reduced or removed. But again, that should be last resort.

        Sometimes what started as a reaction to one thing in her life (violence at home) can continue into other aspects of her life as time goes on. Depression and anxiety is all she knows, and the only way her mind copes with what she has gone through and will continue to be her coping mechanism until something changes it up. Without changing this pattern of thinking she will only continue to stew in her own sense of helplessness and despair. Tell her you don’t want her to continue getting worse, that you want her to be better and that she needs to look for help and be strong. No it’s not easy, but if help is available to her then she needs to bite the bullet. I know you feel guilt when you get tired of supporting and encouraging her because as you said she has been there for you too. However the amount of pain that you put yourself through to help her is not a reflection of how much you love your friend. You do not need to hurt yourself and thwart your attempts to recover from your own disorder in order for her to feel that she is cared for. She needs to be there for herself too. She needs to care for herself as much as you care for her. She needs to do something for herself just as I hope you are doing for yourself. Are you going or have you been to therapy for your own situation? I hope so and I hope you have been given some coping techniques. Sometimes people become so self-absorbed that they think they cannot function without the other person by their side always, and they never learn to become strong themselves. The time has come for her to step it up a bit or she will never have confidence that she is indeed strong enough to help herself. She will continue to put pressure on you to always be there and your guilt will allow her to push you past the point of no return. I would hate to see this happen to either of you.

        Has she looked up and read about how to deal with anxiety online? Maybe read up on how others have dealt with their own anxiety. It’s not the ultimate answer but it certainly helps to know that others out there have similar situations and have survived and are thankful for their lives and for living each day. What other efforts has she made to help herself?

        The right therapist will introduce her to various techniques that she can use on herself when she becomes overwhelmed with anxiety. There are ways for the brain to be ret-trained to go down a different path when things start overwhelming her. There are things she can do for herself, when you’re not around and do not require you to be present. She has to most importantly want to help herself. You need to set boundaries. You need to learn to be assertive with your friend. Maybe she does need to know that it is affecting you negatively. It is not a bad thing for you to have this discussion and do not fear her reaction. You are only human and yes she has been there for you, and you have been there for her however the time has come that seeing a therapist will help her and it will help your friendship. Is it just the stigma or is it that she is not ready for change? She has you, after all, and continues to rely on your to help her in ways that you are not qualified to, nor should you be. She has become accustomed to your constant presence and trying something different is ..well..different and people fear new things sometimes. If need be, and if you can bring yourself to do so, go in with her on her first session. Go to the appt with her so she has your support, and go for the first time so that the therapist can understand how you are feeling also and the dynamic between the both of you.

        Remember you need to be strong to tell her how you feel because you love your friend so much. Let her know you don’t want to hurt her but you cannot watch her continue to hurt and not do anything about it. It is generally known that those with anxiety disorder also become depressed partly because they don’t have control over their lives. They are ruled by their anxiety and the more they don’t seek help the more anxious and guilty the become. Add to that the feeling they have when they think they are affecting other people’s lives. Your friend is hurting and so are you. If you don’t get her to seek professional help I worry about how this will all end up affecting your own relationship. Tell her you worry about it. Tell her everything and don’t leave anything out. You don’t have to threaten that you’re going to move out or that you don’t want to be friends any more because you can’t take it. You need to tell her that you desperately want her to be happier because when she is happy, you are happy. And you both can work on your issues together and become stronger together.

        By the way, do you know of anyone else that has gone for therapy who has the same issues that your friend has…the anxiety, the depression. I know that BDD can cause you to not want to go out of the house or associate with others and that you have your own anxiety and depression to deal with. I know it’s not easy, but it will get easier when you find the strength within you to tell her how it hurts you that she’s not trying to do more to help herself. Loving someone doesn’t mean that you will never hurt their feelings. People do hurt each other unintentionally. Your friend might resist what you say initially, but do not let that undermine your determination to get her to go to therapy. As long she feels that it would be helpful and that the thing that is stopping her is that she worries about the stigma, this can be overcome. Discomfort in going doesn’t mean that she will not go. Discomfort is just that – something that she needs to sum up the courage to try, and with you by her side, she has no excuse to not at least try. For the sake of her mental health and for the sake of your friendship. I can feel that you are on the edge and something needs to change quickly. I don’t know if you can put this off until exams are over so that once that is all over with, you can then relax and have a long talk without worrying that about how that will affect your studies. Until exams are over, try to stay away a bit more, study at the library, and take time out whenever you need it. If you have to leave your home then do so. Your mental health is most important right now, because you need to equip yourself with strength in order to deal with everything. I guess it’ll be up to you how you want to go about doing this, but stress stress to your friend that it’s not that she needs to feel that she has some serious mental illness, but more so that she has a serious life challenge (as one of the articles I’ve attached states) and she needs to adjust and learn how to cope with these challenges.

        I’ve included a couple of articles that I found interesting and possibly helpful for you. I truly wish that there was something I could do more for you as your situation has been on my mind since you first wrote. You are both young and I remember being young and uncertain as to how to go about making things work in life. I know you have the strength within you to make things better for yourself and your friend. Both of you need to be strong. It might be the toughest thing you have to do in a long time, but you will not regret it. Your friend needs to be awakened from her state of inertia, and your insistence that your friend go to therapy will open up more avenues for her and her happiness and yours in the end. You both deserve to be happy and experiencing the best things in life. Get this therapy out of the way, and get on with life as it should be. Everything can be overcome or at the very minimum controlled. I hope you will update with how things go with you, but if you don’t I wish you the very best. I believe in your ability to get what you need out of life, to make things happen.

        http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/helping-a-depressed-person.htm – read about setting boundaries and speaking up for yourself !!



        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheenie-ambardar-md/emotional-health_b_1542521.html working on other aspects of life – eating healthy, exercising to increase happy hormones in the body, setting positive goals. They’re not just words – they really work. Even if it’s one little step at a time.

  8. Amy F says:

    Sometimes, in trying to help a friend, you can actually enable them to avoid seeking the professional help they need. Depression is a medical condition, you couldn’t cure her diabetes or cancer any more than you can her depression.

    Being a good friend doesn’t always mean being accessible 24/7. Having healthy boundaries helps both of you. First, figure out how much you’re willing and able to give. However much or little is ok, because you get to decide your limits. Then talk to your friend, tell her how you feel and urge her go seek professional help. She may get angry or try to manipulate you, but stay strong. If you don’t, you’ll end up resenting her and your friendship is at risk.

    Your friend doesn’t have the capacity to be an equal friend right now, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of treating you with kindness and regard.

  9. lottie says:

    Hello Jessica,

    You do not mention how long this depression has been going on.Is it 2/6 months or 2 years? How long have you known her? Has she always been depressed? Plus what drew you towards her in the place.. was it the need to help her or was she happy before something terrible happened that changed everything in her life. Quite a few questions.

    You had the perfect opportunity to answer her honestly but lied. I know we all bluff our way through at times. BUT at least she asked after your feelings.Tell her the truth next time. You write kindly so I bet you speak that way to.

    Although I agree with Irene and the others, I most definitely do not believe in rushing off to the doctors for medication,as soon as the going get tough. Sometimes things can be sorted by talking with a kind friend or two. Depression does drag people down, and saying pull yourself together isn’t helpful. A helpful hand is often all it needs to get back on track.It depends how long she has suffered.

    Where do you meet her? Or is it on the phone? If it is you visiting tell her that you refuse to sit in doors and want some fresh air with a brisk walk. That will do you both good and it is free.

    Those are my suggestions. Like I said earlier it would help to know how long the friend has been depressed and why before resorting to

    This isn’t the same but will add that my mother who recently died was on 11 different tablets per day. When I questioned the nurses and doctors they admitted that 5 were not necessary,so why the heck was she on them …..MONEY. I demanded a list of the names,one a sleeping tablet another antidepressant!! That is just 2 out of 11.

    Give your friend quality time and attention and even more to yourself first. Take care and very best wishes to a kind caring friend. Lottie

    • Jessica says:

      Hello Lottie

      She has had depression for about 3 years. We are childhood friends however, she didn’t open up to me about her problems until a few years ago. I wanted to help help her and to re-install her faith in good. My friend has seen violence at home, and unfortunately it still carries on. I realise lying to her about what I feel was wrong, but it really wasn’t the best time to admit as she was so emotional and it was in the middle of an anxiety attack when she asked.. She is so sensitive and takes things so hard I really can’t see myself opening up to her about this..if anything I feel it would make matters worse for her as I am her only friend that knows about her depression and her personal problems. I am very cautious when I talk to her, very matriculate with my words in order to not hurt her. I live with her..so I witness everything right that minute. I guess talking to other friends and other people will make it better for me, but I also suffer from BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder) so at times it difficult for me to attempt things as well..

  10. Arlene says:

    Its impossible to be friends with anyone when they won’t take the proper medicine and therapy to treat their anxiety and depression disorder. And often times as kind hearted as we can be, we are doing the wrong thing by trying to be the voice of reason when we should be steering them towards the right treatment to begin enhancing their lives in all areas. This is 2016, we have all seen Dr. Phil and when he says we are in over our heads, we often are!

  11. Beth Anne says:

    As the old saying goes, “Friendship is a two-way street.” If you’re the one who’s always listening to your friend’s problems, and rarely getting the support you need, then it’s a “one-way street” friendship. No wonder you feel drained.

    I hope you follow Irene’s advice and carefully encourage your friend to get the help she needs. It’s true that friends should be there to support each other when life is difficult, but friendship should also provide some enjoyment and good times too. If you aren’t finding much joy in your friendship with this person, you need to spend more of your time with friends who are mutually supportive and who bring some enjoyment into your life.

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