Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Your Turn: “My Best Friend is Depressed”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

I’m writing for a little advice about my best pal of the last 10 years who just turned 30, has a demanding job in entertainment, and has been married (for 3 years) to her longtime love. She has struggled with anxiety for the last 4 years or so, and is a very holistic type of person (she hates taking any types of pills, let alone something such as anti-anxiety medication that isn’t herbal.) She’s an incredibly smart person, her husband is very supportive and she has a lot of great friends who love her and care for her, especially when things seem to not be going great for her. She recently got promoted at her job to a position that requires her to be in very stressful situations. She’s constantly got an upset stomach, she doesn’t laugh like she used to, and she generally has a hard time enjoying much of anything. I guess the short version is: my best friend, who used to really love life, is anxious and depressed.

It’s painful to watch, and even more painful to watch her husband, who would do anything in the world for her, be completely unable to help. I try to be there for him as well as her, since I know it’s not easy to deal with a depressed person. I try to help her come up with possible solutions (yoga, meditation, a new therapist, etc), and also sometimes just sit with her and listen when it seems like she doesn’t want to talk about ways to feel better. The problem is that she seems completely stuck and incapable of making any real decisions that could lead to any type of change or improvement. She thinks and talks about lots of things (maybe taking some anti-anxiety meds, maybe finding a new therapist, maybe going to yoga/meditation), but she has a hard time pulling the trigger on any of these. I don’t want to be pushy (she doesn’t respond well to people telling her what to do), but I feel like there aren’t too many options left. I want to help her, but I know she needs to want to help herself first. Do you have any advice beyond just being here for her? I’ll do that til the day I die, but am open to suggestions. — Worried Friend

42 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Zyggurat September 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

    This one’s simple – she obviously needs to quit her job. I speak from experience because I’ve been in the same situation the LW’s friend was in. I had a demanding job in the insurance industry and was nervous, stressed out, sick to my stomach, etc all the time … but not willing/able to do anything about it. Well nature took care of that for me, in the form of a sort of nervous breakdown. I developed such severe panic attacks that I had to take medical leave from work for 6 weeks. Turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because during that time off I realized that my job was interesting, paid well, and looked good to others, but was totally not right FOR ME. What I didnt realize intellectually my body told me in no uncertain terms. 7 years later I am in a totally different field and much more relaxed and happy, with no panic attacks in ages.

    Sounds like the LW’s friend is unhappy in her job. No amount of therapy or yoga will fix that. Time to find a career that doesn’t cause so much anxiety.

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    • avatar

      Carolyn September 1, 2011, 5:18 pm

      Definitely agree. She needs to start working on a plan to get out of there. Even with the economy not doing so well, she’s gotta start looking for other options. The best the LW can do is suggest, she can’t force her to do anything.

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  • bittergaymark

    bittergaymark September 1, 2011, 3:16 pm

    Continue doing what you are doing. It sucks, but this isn’t really a problem you can proactively fix. Smart people are often depressed. Stupid people sail through life because they simply don’t think much. Your friend sounds like a thinker and with a stressful job in an incredibly shallow industry that encourages people to act like abject idiots…well, I’m sure it can all be VERY taxing. Trust me, I know. I, too, have toiled in entertainment where it’s often one big idiot parade… Depressingly so.

    It sounds like she is open to trying some medication. Gently encourage that. And drag her to yoga or out to do fun things as often as you can. Just be there.

    I’ve had my own battles with depression and the fact that she is reaching out to you is a very good sign. It often amazed me how, in my darkest hours, I was able to construct such a nifty facade that nobody else even knew I was remotely upset. The fact that she has dropped this veil with you means she truly wants help.

    PS — Clarification: I don’t mean that the depressed friend is acting like an idiot, just that she probably has to deal with them all day long and THAT is taxing.

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    • avatar

      Chilosa161 September 1, 2011, 5:09 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve even beguiled therapists with my ability to pretend that it’s all OK.

      Having someone who is willing to be patient and listen when she’s going through a tough time is something that is invaluable to the LW’s friend, whether she expresses her gratitude in those exact words or not. She is very lucky to have a friend willing to stick it out with her and interested in helping, because unfortunately many people are not.

      All I would add is that there is no one thing that will help the friend get out of depression, and sometimes all a person needs is a little time to figure out what ways of coping will truly work for them. Usually it’s a combination of therapy, nutrition, awareness training like yoga, and having a good support system. Patience!

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    • avatar

      dobby September 1, 2011, 7:51 pm

      “Stupid people sail through life because they simply don’t think much.”

      This is my new motto….so true…….

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    • avatar

      Nick September 1, 2011, 8:23 pm

      BGM, there’s a funny passage in Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos where he says basically– what if the most appropriate emotional reaction to the world is depression? That if you’re paying attention, that’s the most honest way to feel. Of course, this came from a guy who spent much of his life depressed and wrote books about it (including this one). I don’t endorse Percy’s view, but part of your point is well taken. Depression & anxiety may well be diseases in some cases, but in others they are the opposite, reasonable responses by alive, feeling people.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark September 2, 2011, 12:50 am

        Hah, Nick. I’ve often felt that way myself. I mean, look around at the world AND what we’re doing to it… How can one NOT be depressed?

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  • avatar

    iseeshiny September 1, 2011, 3:20 pm

    I would bring up the idea of getting a different job with a lower stress factor (especially if she’s gotten a fancy job title with her new promotion, they sound awesome on resumes), but you definitely can’t force someone to make a lifestyle change they’re not ready for. Beyond just being there for her, there isn’t much you can do, except maybe get her a gift certificate for a nice massage/spa day. You could go together, talk about Pixar movies or whatever doesn’t stress her out, and leave any mention of her issues at the door unless she wants to talk about it. You’ve already told her you’re there for her, and there’s nothing to up the anxiety like people telling you to calm down. No one likes to feel like they’re being monitored.

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  • avatar

    DebMoore September 1, 2011, 3:21 pm

    I don’t think there is anything you can “do” except what you are doing now, which is being there for your friend. I know it’s hard and you want to fix the situation, but only your friend can do that. It sounds like you are a very good friend. Keep up the good work! And make sure to keep an eye on yourself as sometimes that depression can rub off. You go take a yoga class and then invite her to join you!

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  • avatar

    convexed September 1, 2011, 3:23 pm

    One really rough aspect of depression is that the things you once found appealing no longer appeal to you, and instead of feeling motivated, you can become withdrawn. So it makes sense that your friend is unable to ‘trigger’ any new approaches to treatment–her energy and motivation are seriously compromised. That said, because your friend values holistic living, she may be much more open-minded or well-suited to the kinds of changes that can yield great relief, such as exercise, and as you’ve mentioned, meditation. There are numerous approaches to be taken with a therapist as well, such as mindfulness therapy, which will teach her strategies to live in the moment, to accept her feelings of sadness or hopelessness, while seeing them for what they are: feelings, not reality. Although obviously, I’m no doctor, I do know that talk therapy and lifestyle changes can truly make the difference between remaining in depression or watching it lift.
    As her friend, you can help her by offering to undertake these things with her. She’s likely not able to be very pro-active while depressed, so take some pressure off of her initiative by suggesting a time to exercise, do yoga, take a walk in a nice park, etc, together. While depressed people can be withdrawn, ultimately, closing the self off from others only deepens the sense of isolation and melancholy. Be present, be understanding, and be ready to help with some of the logistical aspects of her treatment. Sure, she has to ‘want’ to get better, but the practical side (like where to find a yoga instructor and scheduling an appt) is something you can take off her shoulders, and get to spend time with her, too.

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  • avatar

    Elle Marie September 1, 2011, 3:25 pm

    If she is at the point where her anxiety and depression are making it impossible for her to perform everyday functions, it might be helpful to discuss it with her husband and see if you can have a “we are concerned for you and want this to improve” type talk. I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and in the past would not seek out help until I was at a point where some things were unsalvageable. If she is clinically depressed, treatment may need to include medication – it took me a long time to accept, but my therapist at the time put it this way: If you had diabetes and needed insulin, you would take the insulin. Depression and anxiety are medical conditions. They are a different beast from merely feeling down or being a little stressed out.

    Talk therapy helps a lot, if you can find someone that works well with you. I have had therapists who have had personalities that just didn’t work with mine – but I have also had outstanding therapists who have helped me see myself and my problems in a different light. If talk therapy isn’t enough, though, talk therapy in conjunction with medication is considered one of the best courses of treatment for severe anxiety and depression. It’s important to recognize that medication alone is not a panacea – it’s important to recognize ways to deal with situations and issues to make your life the best it can possibly be.

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    • avatar

      MissDre September 1, 2011, 3:46 pm

      Ha, I repeated pretty much what you said in my comment below.

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    • avatar

      MiMi September 1, 2011, 4:33 pm

      I really like the “we need to talk” idea – maybe with a few more of her very closest friends and family there to really make the point that something needs to change. I don’t mean a judgmental smackdown by any means, but if the friend is so wrapped up in her stressful world that every suggestion or idea just bounces off and she is paralyzed, something has to be done to get her attention.
      No one likes to take medication – but it can be a useful tool, even short term, to get things moving in a better direction. Ideals are just that – ideal. Life is very often not ideal – but you suck it up and keep on truckin’. If that means every morning you put a little white pill in your mouth and swallow in order to get through the day in decent shape with something left over for your friends and husband and family, you do it!
      LW, if he isn’t already, you might suggest that your friend’s husband see a therapist of his own. He could probably use professional insight and support.
      You are an awesome friend – they are both lucky to have you.

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  • avatar

    Theenemenyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich September 1, 2011, 3:27 pm

    Hey LW,

    I have a low-lying (usually) anxiety disorder that flares up into panic attacks when I’m overburdening myself, and not appropriately taking steps to manage my obligations and stresses. When they first started, I tried medication but soon found that while the anti-anxiolytics softened the lows, they also blunted the highs, so I quit those. So, for a number of years, I’ve tried to manage my anxiety without drugs, and I still average about 1-2 panic attacks a year (which I’ll take- compared to the 1-2 a week I used to get, this I can handle).

    Anxiety is a strange bird you can sometimes domesticate. When you have an anxious brain, it sometimes seems easier to try to cope with the devil you know, rather than seek the unknown. What would a healthy brain feel like? What possible consequences would each treatment method entail? Could I even have a healthy brain?

    It can be frustrating on the outside, struggling to understand why a person doesn’t follow through on treatment options, but I don’t think you should try too hard to help her with her problems. ESPECIALLY as you have already discussed options with her before (I’m guessing more than once), it’s past the time for her to continue to receive a sympathetic ear from you. You can’t fix her brain or her life from the outside. It was difficult in the moment, but one of the pushes I needed to finally transition from talking about seeking “action b” to actually doing it, was loved ones in my life choosing not to participate in those thought cycles, effectively telling me, “if you aren’t going to seek help, I can’t listen to you as you talk about your anxieties anymore.”

    So yeah, be there for her, but don’t be there for the anxiety until she stops making her anxiety the emotional burden of those around her who love her, and starts taking the responsibility of being emotionally healthy on herself.

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    • avatar

      Chilosa161 September 1, 2011, 5:11 pm

      I’ve been trying to domesticate the anxiety bird for years. It sucks.

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    • avatar

      Sailorbabe September 2, 2011, 11:56 am

      “Anxiety is a strange bird you can sometimes domesticate. When you have an anxious brain, it sometimes seems easier to try to cope with the devil you know, rather than seek the unknown. What would a healthy brain feel like? What possible consequences would each treatment method entail? Could I even have a healthy brain?”

      THIS! I’ve battled job related anxiety for years and these kind of thoughts really held me back to the point where I ended up having a nervous breakdown after quitting my job. I spent so many months angry and nervous while at my job (Child Protective Services) that when I finally did break down, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and making a decision was so SCARY! It took a couple of years for me to learn how to “have a healthy brain” and find a course of treatment that was right for me. It’s not an easy road for your friend, LW, but any support you can show her at this time may help her work through some of the complicated thoughts and potential fears she may be having.

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  • avatar

    MissDre September 1, 2011, 3:37 pm

    I have been dealing with depression for many years now and have found that I cannot come off my medication or I will relapse.

    I have delt with people telling me “Oh you don’t need pills, just do this, this or that and you’ll be fine!” but the thing is… I am not just dealing with situational depression, I am dealing with a chemical imbalance.

    I don’t know if your friend is in the same boat as me or not, but I thought it might help if I shared with you what my doctor has said to me:

    “Depression is like any other illness. If you were diabetic, you would take your insulin wouldn’t you? If you were epileptic, you’d take your anti-seizure medication, wouldn’t you? This isn’t any different, and there is nothing wrong with taking medication to get better.”

    I really hope your friend will be ok and I am sorry that she is going through this.

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    • avatar

      Michele September 1, 2011, 3:53 pm

      Thank you. This is what I wanted to post too. I have bipolar disorder. I have tried coming off of my meds, and I can’t. And I didn’t like that at first, and ideally, yea, I’d not have to take them because I wouldn’t have an illness. But I do, so I do.

      I realize there’s a stigma associated with mental illnesses and their treatment. I got over it when it occured to me that if I had asthma, no one would judge me for it.

      I did resist medication for years. And now I am the me that I always knew was there, but just couldn’t get past the stuff. I don’t know if your friend would be open to another discussion about medication, but if so, please tell her that it doesn’t make her a weak person.

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      • avatar

        anonymous September 1, 2011, 5:26 pm

        One of the things about depression is that different things work for different people. Some need only talk therapy to help them through; others don’t need to talk about it to a therapist, and do well just on meds. But not all meds work the same, so going that route requires experimentation and a willingness to change tacks if it’s required. Some people find that an underlying medical issue has affected their mental health — low thyroid or something else.

        Depression is almost a symptom of multiple underlying issues. So, while dietary changes may help some, they won’t be a cure-all. Likewise with medications or other “solutions.” There is not one “cure” for the depression, just as there is not one cure for a fever. If it’s caused by malaria, you need to treat it differently than if it’s flu or a massive infection. In this analogy, just because taking quinine solved the issue of fever for one sufferer doesn’t mean that it will solve the problem for all.

        Many will come out of the woodwork to second-guess the treatment option that she finds works for her. She’ll need to be strong both while looking for the cure and AFTER (ironically) she has found what works for her.

        As far as your support goes, sometimes it’s really hard even to make the call to get help. Offer to make the call, set the appointment for her, and GO with her (or she’ll cancel, guaranteed). But only if you have her permission! The permission CAN be half-hearted: “You can make an appointment, but it won’t do any good…” is fine.

        I know this was a bit of rambling, but mental health is a tricky issue.

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      • avatar

        MissDre September 1, 2011, 10:51 pm

        Definitely agree with you. It tried 3 other medications before I found the one that worked for me and didn’t make me sick. It took a lot of years, because I’d just decide not to take my meds instead of going back to the doctor to try a new one.

        I also spent years seeing a psychotherapist doing cognitive behavioural therapy, and a full year with a psychologist trying to talk things out.

        The biggest change was when I made the decision within myself to be accountable for my own happiness. But one thing doesn’t always work for everybody, and I definitely think it was a combination of all of the above that helped me.

        Possibly being medicated may help this woman get the boost she needs to FIND what works for her.

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    • avatar

      Shadowflash1522 September 2, 2011, 10:47 am

      I have anger/anxiety issues too, but psychoactive drugs make me nervous and here’s why:

      The brain is easily the most complex organ in the body, probably by a factor upwards of 1000. The diabetes analogy is somewhat shortsighted in that treating the pancreas with biologically identical insulin is straightforward compared to the complexities of mental disorders. We know next to nothing about how a “normal” brain is supposed to look, so flooding the brain with synthetic chemicals would be like trying to carve a delicate crystal sculpture with a sledgehammer.

      My point is that the mental disorders are not in fact just like any other disease. Medication can be helpful, but there’s no guarantee that your end state is really any better than your starting state (unlike with insulin, etc) and the consequences are harder to spot. If the LW’s friend is ready to take that step, she has to consider whether living in a false high or drugged-up haze (or any number of other side effects) is better than alternative treatments.

      That said, medicating to get yourself down from a precipitous high or out of those awful lows can be a great idea. Just make sure you know what you are medicating *towards*–what your ultimate state-of-mind goal is. No one gets to be deliriously happy all the time. I share many of her concerns, primarily about what a “chemically balanced” brain entails, so I would recommend that she try talk therapy and/or lifestyle changes first.

      As for the LW herself: I think you are doing an awesome job being there for your friend! Let her know how much you love her, and get *her* to come with *you* to do relaxing things–it will make yoga/meditation/whatever less about fixing her problems and more about relaxing and spending time together.

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  • avatar

    oldie September 1, 2011, 4:02 pm

    She wants to be in a high-stress job and not take meds for her condition. That isn’t going to work. She probably needs to change to a less stressful job and take the meds. Her current approach isn’t working. Yoga isn’t going to solve this problem.

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  • avatar

    SGMcG September 1, 2011, 4:21 pm

    I know you say that she doesn’t respond well to people telling her what to do, but have you considered staging some type of intervention for her? Interventions aren’t necessarily limited to drug/alcohol problems and most serious personal problems can be addressed through one. Your friend is currently exercising a poor personal health care choice by having a high-stress job, resulting in anxiety and depression and not getting the help she needs to address these issues. If she can’t pull the trigger in getting the help she needs, for whatever reason, an intervention would be ideal in giving her the shock she needs in order to get started. If enough of her friends and family gather together to express their concerns, maybe she’ll get motivated to address her seemingly obvious depression. Good luck LW.

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  • avatar

    TECH September 1, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Your friend is having trouble pulling the trigger on anything — surely a sign of depression. I know you desperately want to help, but you can’t pull the trigger for her. You can’t make her quit her job, you can’t make her go to a new therapist, and you can’t fix the chemical imbalance in her brain. But I know you want some practical advise, not just a list of what you can’t do.
    Please don’t take this as a flippant suggestion, but what if you took her out for an amazing fun filled night? — or even a weekend getaway if you can. Allow her to get away from the stress, sadness, and frustrations she is experiencing. Open her up to something new. Help her with suggestions on how to improve her life. But maybe a weekend getaway — a change in surroundings, a different perspective — will be the jolt she needs.

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  • avatar

    cookiesandcream September 1, 2011, 4:49 pm

    Wow, LW, your best friend and I must have been separated at birth because your description of your best friend pretty much described me. I’ve struggled with depression my whole life, and I get the feeling that your friend and I have very similar personalities. I also had a friend like you who would try her hardest to be there for me and try to get me to find help for my problems. After reading your letter, I think my friend and you were in very similar positions as well.

    I remember being so scared to see someone about my issues because I had no idea what was going to happen. It was so weird because my worst nightmare and my hope was the same thing: that I was going to be diagnosed with a mental illness and that I would be forced to go on pills for the rest of my life. It was my nightmare because I was especially scared of medication and I didn’t like the idea of having to take pills that might have adverse side effects. It was my hope because then I would finally have a reason to explain why I felt so numbed down and trapped all the time. It’s like I knew what my life could be like and how much I used to enjoy it, but for some reason I just felt like it wasn’t worth living.

    I understand completely how you feel because I know I’ve hurt many of my friends in the past because of my refusal to get help. I also know what it’s like to have someone by my side pushing me to get help when I knew it was one of my biggest fears. On the one hand, I truly appreciated the concern; but, on the other hand, it was so annoying and intrusive because I didn’t want anyone to know about it. I was so fearful and ashamed about what I was going through that talking about it seemed like offensive behavior to me. That’s why I think that you might be a little too pushy (I completely understand that you’re doing this out of pure love and affection for your friend) when you say that you “listen when it seems like she doesn’t want to talk about ways to feel better.” I know you mean well, but sometimes it’s just for the best to let your friend get to the point when she wants to get help on her own. You can’t force someone to acknowledge all their fears and demons when you want them to because, if you do, I think it would most likely just breed resentment.

    LW, I’m very sympathetic to you because I feel like our situations were very similar and I wish I had more to offer you. The thing is, I know you how much you care for your friend and want to be the best friend possible, but sometimes that means taking a step back and letting your friends come to terms with their problems on their own. What I would suggest doing is having one final conversation with her about her issues where you can say something like, “Listen, I know you’ve been going through a lot lately, and I just want to let you know that I’ll always be here for you. I won’t judge you no matter what you decide and I’ll support you through everything.” Then I’d ease off on discussing her problems because it would be easy to get overwhelmed and even more fearful of getting help if you keep on bringing it up.

    Sorry about such a long post; I just felt like sharing my experience would help since they seemed so similar. Best of luck to you and your friend! 🙂

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  • avatar

    Coughla September 1, 2011, 5:25 pm

    Help your friend find a good massage therapist and have her set up regular appointments. I’ve had an incredibly stressful job and regular massage therapy sessions helped so much. I’m not saying massage therapy will cure your friend but it’s a step in the right direction. And some insurance plans will even pay for it!

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  • avatar

    convexed September 1, 2011, 6:26 pm

    Im so glad people are raising such good points about medication. I’ve known many people suffering from both depression and less curable mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, for whom medication therapy has been a lifesaver, in their own words. I’ve also known people for whom pill after new, fancy pill has either done nothing or hit them with all kinds of side effects. Some studies suggest that many antidepressants do no better than placebos in trials. My point is, everyone’s case is unique and complicated by different factors, and there’s not an easy or obvious solution. If the depression is situational and stress-induced, quitting the demanding job may help, or it may bring on a new set of debilitating stressors as the friend re-enters this uncertain job market. I wouldn’t recommend that route without yr friend first exploring other options, ideally with the guidance of either a therapist, a psychiatrist, or both. Its important to make changes, but huge and sudden changes are best taken on when the situation is stabilized, or at least adequately supervised.

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  • avatar

    amber September 1, 2011, 6:43 pm

    Since she mentioned to you finding a new therapist I’m wondering if she’s saying this because she’s grapsing at straws trying to figure out how to change things or if other things are making her feel like the therapist isn’t right for her. Usually people have a hard time switching therapists because you have to start at step 1 all over again explaining your life story, but sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do. You’re not going to mesh with every therapist you meet and this could be a great first step. Maybe try and talk to her about this option just as a start the next time you guys talk about this. I had one friend who was dealing with an anxiety disorder (she’s an accountant and also was dealing with a lot of tax season stress) and when she switched therapists we all saw a big change. Basically she and the new therapist got each other more and the way the new therapist approached her issues just worked.

    At the end of the day though you’re doing the best thing you can for her by just being there. Being a shoulder to cry on and being willing to listen. Remember though that you have your limits to as to how much you can take on from both her and her husband. Try not to get to a point where you can’t handle listening to either of them anymore. That could potentially ruin the friendships you have. I hope things get better for your friend!

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  • avatar

    Nick September 1, 2011, 7:43 pm

    Worried Friend,

    For depression, it sounds like everyone has a cure here. There’s this great idea, there’s that one. Meds & yoga & therapy oh my. They might all help your friend. It sounds like you have a good handle on what she could use anyway. What you don’t have a handle on is how to influence her to change her behavior.

    Consider this: While it’s important to care, there’s such a thing as caring too much. Worrying too much for your friend. Sometimes we become an enabler because we give the person a reaction they’re seeking. We feed the beast inadvertently.

    I like SGMcG’s idea of an intervention. See if you can get the husband to lead the process of setting it up. But be careful not to care so much that you feed the beast. There’s also that funny episode of How I Met Your Mother that details how the gang of friends stage interventions for each other through the years. It’s actually worth watching. It doesn’t always have to be like that A&E show!

    Good luck.

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  • avatar

    callmehobo September 1, 2011, 7:54 pm

    LW,

    I would like to remind you that it is neither your nor your friend’s husband’s job to “cure” your friend’s depression. You are doing the right thing by being supportive, but you can only do so much. Your friend must take control of her own health.

    I only say this, because I worry that you may get trapped into blaming yourself. You ARE doing all that you can do. I know that that fact is frustrating, but it is true. Just don’t feel like you aren’t doing enough- you are doing everything you can. It’s just that your friend has to start doing something as well.

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  • avatar

    dobby September 1, 2011, 7:55 pm

    5-HTP

    It’s an amino acid, a natural product, works great on depression

    You can get it OTC – just be sure to follow the instructions as with any supplement/med

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    • avatar

      Lets_be_honest September 1, 2011, 9:21 pm

      I had never heard of that so I just did some quick, 5 minute research and it wasn’t positive. In fact, the first line on WebMD.com was “DO NOT USE.”

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      • avatar

        dobby September 2, 2011, 5:05 pm

        I’ll take my doctor’s knowledge and experience over a 5 minute Google search any day…

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  • katie

    katie September 1, 2011, 8:01 pm

    i have to second all the getting a new job suggestions- my first job out of college i was in for 11 months, and it literally stole a little peice of my soul everyday. my boyfriend also worked there (weird coincidence- we were both hired in the same week after we had been dating for some time) and our life became nothing more then bitching about how much we hated our lives because of our jobs…

    we both got new jobs around march/april of this year, and i cannot tell you how much it helps. i am now able to actually sit down and relax- like really relax, like sitting on the couch and vegging out and not even completely knowing what your watching relaxation. also, our sex life considerably improved. just everything, absolutely everything, got better.

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  • avatar

    jubietta September 1, 2011, 8:47 pm

    I have an odd experience where I started taking meds and doing talk-therapy to treat my work-induced, stress-related depression which came with a big ol’ side of chronic gastro-intestinal problems. Oddly, for me, the meds helped…but in the long run it turned out to be a Vitamin D deficiency. Once I ramped-up on 6000 IU of D3 everyday I was able to ramp down off the anti-depressants. No more doldrums, no more GI attacks every third day, no more missing work at a job I loved.
    I’m not saying this is the issue your friend faces, I’m saying that D deficiency is worth looking at. Especially if your friend uses sunscreen and does not get enough raw skin exposure to adequate sunlight. The test for D is easy, if you can handle a blood test. The supplements are inexpensive. The real risk is that you can OD on vitamin D, so it is very important to get checked and know what your levels are.
    On the really bright side…adequate levels of vitamin D will help your immune system by creating natural antibiotics in your system, and it will turn on “vitamin d receptors” in your DNA that help prevent replication of damaged genes a.k.a. CANCER!
    If you’re curious about the science, see the November 2007 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN magazine, the article is called “Cell Defenses and the Sunshine Vitamin.” Sounds like a Western to me.

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    DramaQueen224 September 2, 2011, 1:15 am

    There have been studies that show that 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise a day can be equally effective to antidepressants. Now, I think antidepressants are awesome when used correctly, but if you’re friend is reluctant, then encouraging the yoga and other physical activities might really help.

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      ape_escape September 2, 2011, 1:57 am

      yeah…the thing is, when you’re that depressed, you don’t want to GET OUT OF BED – more than don’t want – you feel physically INCAPABLE of getting out of bed. Like it takes more than all the strength you have just to get up and take a shower. Much less working out every (other) day. You’ve read all the articles about depression; you KNOW that exercise could help your constant feelings of …well, shit, but you literally feel like you CAN’T.

      Not trying to knock it, but when you are in that mindset, it is next to impossible to motivate yourself to do ANYTHING at ALL. I just think that needs to be acknowledged.

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    • JK

      JK September 2, 2011, 11:22 am

      You took the words out of my mouth.
      Not to go all Tom Cruise-y , but exercise does have great effects all around (gotta love those endorphins :)).
      I would suggest for Lw (if her schedule permits) to try nd organize some kind of exercise pan with her friend. not even necessarily a gym, explire their mutual instincts and go from there… walk/jog/work out/ team sports. There are a lot of options, and though I’m sure it will be tough for the friend to start off with in the long run I think it will help out.
      Most of the other suggestions are good too.

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      • JK

        JK September 2, 2011, 11:24 am

        God, so many tupos and I lost my train of thought. The point was that maybe if LW and friend exercise together it will be easier for the friend to get (and stay) motivated. Without having any emotional issues I know I can never get motivated by myself to work out, but going with someone makes a big difference.

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  • Budj

    budjer September 2, 2011, 10:46 am

    Often I feel like we are bred our entire lives to aspire to positions like the LW’s friend has been successful enough to acquire. Most people don’t get there and some do…if you are an ambitious person you could feel like a failure if you don’t….some ambitious people thrive in that environment and other ambitious people work their ass off to get something they think they are supposed to feel a sense of pride over, but are absolutely miserable doing it. Combine that with the pay being great in those positions, which allows an addictively comfortable lifestyle, and you have a recipe for a vicious unfufilling cycle.

    Push your friend to explore her interests and hobbies more and to find something that she values and feels fulfillment over…that could help her see that career success at the expense of life depression is not worth it. Identifying her own definition of “making her mark on the world”…which is what a lot of driven people ultimately want to feel to feel like their life has purpose…. may just help her be more genuinely happy.

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    Allissa September 2, 2011, 11:50 am

    Since your friend is having a hard time addressing her problem, you and/or her hubby can ask her if its okay if you make an appointment for her. You two do the actual appointment making and take her when the time comes. In fact you might want to start with her doctor to check out her upset stomach and look for high blood pressure.

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    Bossy Italian Wife September 2, 2011, 12:31 pm

    While I think it’s great you want to help, and you sound well intentioned, I think you sound a little too pushy. It’s your friend’s life, not yours. While you can sympathize with her husband and even feel frustration yourself, you can’t just be forceful with someone to make them be happier.

    My husband suffers from depression, and I know what it is like to have a spouse who sometimes withdrawals, feels really low, etc. But no matter how much I hem and haw about the situation, it’s up to him to pull himself out of it and be responsible for himself… he is, after all, an adult. He exercises regularly, takes a multivitamin for depressively prone people, and he consults with a therapist. Do these things all cure him miraculously? No, these things are a lifelong struggle.

    It sounds like your friend is in therapy, and is trying to do things to help herself. Should she quit her job? Maybe. Maybe her therapist thinks that she needs to learn better stress management and they are trying to get her to the point where she can handle these situations. You just don’t know.

    If you really want to be a good friend, continue to tell her how great she is and pump up her self esteem. Lend an ear, like you have been doing. Express your concern in a heartfelt way, and politely ASK if there is anything you can do to help. Chances are, if you decide to be aggressive with her about her depression, you will alienate yourself from the friendship. As frustrating as it can be to see a friend go through hard times, they are her hard times, not yours, and you need to keep that in mind.

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