ZocdocAnswersHow can one approach a depressed friend?

Question

How can one approach a depressed friend?

When a friend is depressed, what is the right way to approach them? I know that I should try to make them feel like they can talk to me, but I'm also nervous about drawing their attention to the bad thoughts and making them feel like their problems are noticeable.

Answer

Depression is a very serious disease and needs treatment. Signs and symptoms of depression include disturbances in sleep patterns, feelings of guilt, decreases in levels of energy, problems with concentration and memory, increased or decreased appetite, motor slowing and suicidality. If you are worried about your friend, expressing your concerns and listening would be an excellent way to show your support. The concern about drawing attention to his problems is an important one, but should be less worrisome to you. People who are depressed benefit tremendously from having the support of their family and friends. You can also be instrumental in referring him to a psychiatrist for a full evaluation and possible medication or psychotherapy. You should ask your friend if he has had any thoughts about hurting himself or anyone else. If he answers yes, you should ask him if he has a plan. Again, people worry that they might be drawing attention to suicidal thoughts but, instead, it helps the problem to be recognized and treated and people often benefit from open discussion. If your friend endorses suicidal thoughts, it is an emergency and you should contact a hospital immediately in keeping with his best interest. It is important for you to approach your friend and be open and listen without being judgmental.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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