• Making Friends

How can I make friends when I’m feeling depressed?

Published: October 9, 2016 | Last Updated: October 9, 2016 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
Admittedly, It’s tough to make friends when you’re feeling depressed…

…even if you desperately want someone to talk to, to confide in, or for company to take in a movie, you may not have sufficient energy or initiative to reach out to others. People who are depressed often feel worthless and wonder why anyone else would want to befriend them.

Also, a depressed person may be hesitant to make plans for next week or next month because they don’t know how depressed they’ll feel when the time of the actual event arrives.

Realistically, they may worry about whether they are capable of keeping up their side of the friendship, realizing they may not be good company right now. After all, it’s hard to be with someone who is depressed.

For these reasons and others, depressed people may isolate themselves, perpetuating the feelings of sadness and loneliness. I recently received a one-sentence letter from a young woman:

Hi, I just want to ask how do I make friends when I struggle with depression?

While there are no simple answers, here are a few suggestions I would give to her and others:

  • Depression is a treatable illness. Check in with your therapist or physician to make sure that your condition is being treated as best as it can be. Your medication may need a minor adjustment or major overhaul. Your doctor may be able to offer other non-somatic recommendations.
  • Confide in your therapist explicitly about your problem in making friends. Like depression, friendship problems are real, too. Yours may be a byproduct of your depression and/or may stem from something else.
  • Join a support group of people with mood disorders to learn some practical tips to minimize the effect of depression on your social relationships.
  • It’s easier to make friends in natural settings where there is less pressure to socialize. Survey your workplace, school and/or neighborhood to see what types of groups or activities interest you. Take an adult education class, participate in an exercise class at a gym, or volunteer to help others.
  • Get moving. Get dressed and make an effort to get out of the house regularly, even if it’s to take a short walk or bicycle ride. A number of studies have shown that exercise helps improve mood.
  • Sometimes friends don’t know how to react to someone who is depressed. If they’ve been turned down or shut out repeatedly, they may stop initiating contact. Take the risk of contacting an old friend with whom you have some history. Let that person know you are interested in getting together.
  • Figure out what positive things you can bring to a new friendship. Be cautious about demanding too much too soon: Don’t treat new friends as therapists. Don’t be lazy either. Instead, make sure there is give and take in your relationships.
  • Take one day at a time. Recognize your illness is likely to have ups and downs. Don’t beat yourself up when you feel so depressed that you can’t handle being with other people.

Prior posts on The Friendship Blog about making friends when you’re depressed:

Do you have any other advice for someone making friends when they’re depressed?

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Comments (6)

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  1. SharonM says:

    I was depressed for a time and a lot of my friends faded away. It’s hard for non-depressed people to understand how depression seems to swallow you up. Everything becomes exhausting. Making plans, getting dressed, showering, making conversation, all seems so huge and like such a tremendous efforts. Also the aches and pains. Many don’t realize that depression and pain can go hand in hand. Sometimes it’s the pain that led to depression and sometimes the depression led to pain, but yes depression can make you HURT. I understand how hard it can to be around someone who is no fun. I tried not to burden anyone. I would pull away rather than put my problems on anyone. But it led to so much isolation and loneliness. I looked around one day and realized I had literally not a friend to call my own. I felt sick and sad at what my life had come to. I can only recommend you reach out and ask your dear friends for help! But also get therapy and work hard on that. I also read a lot of self help books. I wonder if it would be helpful to share the books that may have helped us most?

    • Irene says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience. That’s a great idea! I’m open to people listing book ideas here. There is also a book lover’s thread on the forum that might be helpful. Best, Irene

    • Saritta says:

      Thanx for sharing your emotions sharin. It seems pike you are talking about.me
      Feeling that friends are turning their backs on you ia a killing feeling.. I also made mistakes in many friendships. I was whiny; pushy; spoily and too talkative loud and agitated.. i know this contributed in pushing the friends away but i stull see my old friends who never judged me and loved me as I am still around. And it makes me so happy. I decided to change and become more tolerant. More loving and an adult, handle people as you.want them to handle you and who wants to leave you is free to do so… love yourself for all yhe vertues and blessing you have

    • Lostconfidence says:

      SharonM – your post has summarised exactly what I’ve been struggling to describe to everyone, to my doctor, to therapist, to online depression forum, even google search which has brought me to this page. So thank you for writing it in such a clear way. I am at that state of not having anyone I could call a friend and I have depression. I’d really appreciate any insight or advice or the self help books you’ve found beneficial. Depression is such a cruel disease that my happy and balanced state of mind is not on a consistent path, so I can’t forward plan or be reliable or offer a good friendship as how can you when the next day you may feel unable to even get dressed and feel so rotten inside you have to cancel all plans (again).

  2. RobertaM says:

    I’ve been struggling with my friendship with a profoundly depressed individual. Over time, the friendship has felt less and less equal and I feel more and more like a stand-in caretaker. Her depression has led to many severed friendships (she blows off a lot of events and doesn’t answer phone calls or respond to any social media, so she gives the impression of not caring). Her live in boyfriend left her because she would not take her medications and her mood swings were awful. I’ve been the one to absorb the pain for the most part and I just can’t anymore. I agree with Amy F, your friends are not your therapists or support groups, they are friends and have limitations. We don’t have the professional distance of a professional and get way too sucked into the misery. I am now at the end of my rope having given way too much of my time and energy and feeling empty from giving too much. My final straw was when she “borrowed” two hundred dollars to pay off a bill and used that instead of splurge on herself because she “needed a lift”. I never saw the money again w hich I could have accepted but she didn’t even pay the bill off which was like a slap in the face. Depression is a horrible disease. Please seek help for it and LISTEN to what your therapists recommend..

  3. Amy F says:

    Recognize the difference between wanting a friend and wanting a support person to help you with your depression and other problems. If you’re primarily looking for help rather than socialization, seek out a professional of a support group. While friends are supportive, they aren’t replacements for seeking help for the medical problem known as despresion.

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