• Keeping Friends

Why do friends disappear when you’re depressed?

Published: February 23, 2017 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
Some people have a hard time dealing with depressed friends.



I have been diagnosed with depression since last October. I had two friends (one that went through it herself) who said they were there for me. I went to a doc as things went downhill rapidly. I know I was hard on them at the time and acknowledged that I am now getting help now and see an improvement. I still have lapses but they’re not as bad.

However, one friend no longer talks to me and makes it obvious (we go to the same exercise class) that she doesn’t want me near her (she suffered from depression herself long time ago). The other one used to ask if I wanted to meet up for coffee; now see barely talks to me. My depression was due to low self-esteem and not feeling wanted or good enough.

Why are they acting this way even though I am feeling much better?

Signed, Lisa


Hi Lisa,

I’m glad you’re feeling better and getting the help you need. Depression is a common condition that affects many people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), it is estimated that each year some 16 million adults (6.9 percent of the population) in the U.S. suffer from at least one depressive episode.

Truthfully, it can be taxing to spend long periods of time with a friend who is depressed. People with depression can come across as disinterested, negative, bored or self-absorbed. Their friends who have never experienced depression may not understand the disorder. Friends who have experienced depression themselves may worry about being dragged down by the depression of a friend.

It’s unfortunate that both these friends reacted they why they did. Now that you are feeling better about yourself, you may need to move on from these two friends unless they take the initiative to renew the friendship. Act cordially and continue to say hello to the friend you see at your class and don’t allow her attitude to drag you down.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

Previously on The Friendship Blog:

Tags: , , ,


Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jacqueline says:

    There is alot of great advice here.

    I find that people will listen to your problems for only so long.

    Most who are going through tough times are very focused on themselves, only talk about themselves, and never think to ask, “By the way, how are YOU??” It can be very draining, time consuming.

    So, while I will not end a friendship because of this, (I really do care about the person) I will certainly put some distance between us.

  2. B says:

    The conclusion I’ve come to is that friends are just really for very light chit chat end of story. You can support someone but when things are going badly for you people dont want to know.
    I’d recommend going to see a therapist to talk about problems in the future and be open to meeting new people but keep things very light.

    • Batphink says:

      This is a reply to B,

      so in reality you sound like these friends you are describing are just acquaintances. In my world a real friend is there through thick and thin,though the last few years ironically most are now again acquaintances sad really.

      Seems real friends are becoming a thing of the past in my life,only the end of 2016 I lost 4 of them just over very minor disagreements,but there were gay and many gay couples are overtly sensitive it seems.

      • Pfffft... says:

        “many gay couples are overtly sensitive it seems.”

        Oh, give me a break. Way to paint with a broad brush there, lady. It’s incredibly lazy for you to dismiss these friends of yours with a clichéd stereotype, to brush then off this way instead of owning up to the role you almost certainly played in this.

        Besides this, saying “friends are there through through thick and thin” is another lazy, trite and overused saying. It’s not black and white like that. Not everyone is going to have the stamina and know-how to deal long-term with someone who’s clinically, legitimately depressed. A bit of distance is necessary and healthy. Friends are not therapists and if you expect them to be, you’re going to find yourself disappointed and friendless eventually, with many fallings-out with people you love.

        If I sound harsh, I apologize. I’m trying to provide you with a grounded, different perspective. The gay comment rubbed me the wrong way as I have many level-headed and calm gay friends and family.

        • batphink says:

          I can’t seem to find your comment and I’m not a woman and yes your reply was harsh.I am talking about MY experience why do you dismiss what I say,each person has their own individual experience,life and opinions and of course reactions to these. I have been around hundreds of gay people in reality,I used to go out with my gay friends and have witnessed how many act in person,even many of those I’ve know and relative that are gay agree they are sensitive and a lot are militant deny it all you want. I am all for equality before you paint my as a hater which I am not,wrong the ONLY people I hate are pedophiles we better not go there I think. I didn’t use any stereotype except to say ‘many) meaning a lot but NOT all) are sensitive,I know that through real experience and interactions with them. So I hope of you reply you get me a little more? You make it sound like I have a problem relating to people because I offended your fondness for gay people? Those two gay couple unfriended me of their own volition and upset my own family and we are disgusted by their crude language and insinuations towards me being single.Anyway you were judgemental and harsh if we were in person good chance an argument would take place.I’ve explained myself enough good day.

  3. Jayne says:

    Hi, I’m sorry for your struggles, both with the depression & the problems with friends. I wondered if you may like to hear about my experience.
    I stopped contacting a close friend with depression last year. I love her & wish only the best for her but the friendship was completely one sided & I felt that I was being used as an occasional crutch by her rather than a friend.
    A bit of background.. we had been friends for around 5 years. I knew she had health problems & her husband had left her she began drinking too much & depression followed. I was always there for her, taking her out, speaking to her everyday & being on the end of the phone on an evening when she wanted to talk.
    However she began being nasty to a mutual friend of ours & refusing to socialise if this lady was present.
    She turned down all my invitations to get a coffee or get together although I knew she had met up with another mutual friend when she’d told me she was unable to get out as she was sick.
    All this time she continued to send me late night messages to talk about her husband & children etc.
    One day I’d had some terrible news & I phoned my friend. I said It would be great to see her & I’d missed her, I told her I was in need of a friend & would she like to get together for a chat sometime soon. I didn’t tell her my bad news.
    She said no sorry she couldn’t see me. She’d be in touch.
    I saw her a couple of times after & she said how much she enjoyed my company & it was really good for her to get out & have a laugh BUT I haven’t contacted her since.
    She wasn’t there for me the one time I needed support & she didn’t even ask if I was ok after what had happened.
    So that is why I ditched a friend with depression. For right or wrong.

  4. Lauryn says:

    I’m sorry you are struggling with depression. Talking to a therapist can help because you have someone to listen who will not judge you. After my mom passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease and I cared for her nights while working & being a full-time mom, depression definitely affected me for 3 years after her death. Your friends just do not have the energy to be your rock as they have their own problems. My advice is learn to not expect too much of others. I was profoundly hurt that my friends literally though I should have gotten over mom’s death after the first week. Again, I am very sorry for your pain!

  5. Hi Lisa says:

    I’m so sorry your dealing with Depression, and sorry for your loss….I have MS, so I sometimes go thru bouts of depression, and when I do, I try to stay away from people, simply b/c I don’t want to make them feel badly. When I’m depressed, I’m moody, everything seems to get me down, and I have tunnel vision…which ultimately makes me indifferent to how others are feeling. Depression seems to change a persons personality, and rather then bring others down, make them depressed, or hurt their feelings b/c they seem insensitive to my feelings, I stay to myself. You see, unless a person goes thru it, its difficult for them to understand the whole of it and the seriousness of it. It is easy for people to say, “I’m there for you”. But when it comes down to it, very few people can and will handle bad things that happen.
    You see, we all have different tolerance levels…I may be able to understand you better then most, however, when your going thru depression and want to talk about it, it brings me down…down, down….so try not be so hard on your friends, and understand they have lives of their own, problems of their own, but chose not to discuss them. And when they spend time with you, it’s very difficult, b/c you are depressed and honestly, people don’t want to be around negativity….they want to do things and hear things that make them happy….and remove them from their every day life. You’ve heard many people, especially women say, “oh I won’t listen to the news, it’s way too depressing”. Try and think of yourself as the news, and not discuss all your problems with them…try and practice reserving your problems to discuss your with your doctor…I’ve found, when I try and laugh, and find humor in things, rather then be so serious….it helps make me in a much better mood. Also, helping others, listening to others, also helps…but most of all, when you find humor and laugh, and listen more to others, people will want to be around you more so, b/c they won’t be put in a position, of giving you advice. See, when you do that, your being demanding of others who may not be as strong as you think. People who have not experienced depression, do not know how to deal with it…never end the friendships, but in the stead, use those friendships as an escape from depression…and ask them questions about themselves, where they’re thinking about going on vacation, and why? Be interested in them….let them talk about themselves and never ever bring the conversation back to you, unless they ask you a question. People hate it, when they say something about themselves, and their friend or co-worker constantly say, “Oh I did the same thing, and then you steal the conversation, and go off on this long story about yourself”. Allow others to have their day in the sun…Does that make sense?
    My thoughts and prayers are with you

  6. Amy F says:

    I’m sorry that you’re struggling. Having an illness, psychological or physical, can be all consuming. Sometimes those suffering forget that their friends and loved ones also have “stuff” and that their problems aren’t the only or the most important parts of the relationship. Illness make people myopic. Illness, whether cancer or depression or diabetes or whatever isn’t a pass to absolve one of relationship responsibilities, but a mitigating factor for understanding sometimes self-centered thought and behavior. Your question “why are they acting this way” makes me believe that you’re making your friends actions all about your depression instead of looking inward as well as outward.

Leave a Reply