Jeff
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Hi guys,

I'm not going to go into details on this. But I know there are smart folks here, some of whom have known folks with depression, and thought I'd ask.

Someone very special to me is suffering from depression. I've tried to get them to seek professional help and talk to someone, but they refuse. Guess I'm grasping at straws here, but wondered if there were any suggestions.

Honestly, as I've made her quite angry with me by trying to convince her to get some outside help, it may be too late - she probably isn't going to be very receptive to anything I suggest, but I'll ask for ideas anyway.
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Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life. I thought of their unfathomable distance, and the slow inevitable drift of their movements out of the unknown past into the unknown future. H.G. Wells
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I wish I had some suggestions for you. I know when I was suffering from depression I actively didn't want help. It sounds strange but depression for me was my coping mechanism, and I didn't want to give it up.

If she is uninterested in counseling, it may still benefit you to go if this is someone you are close to and it is effecting your life.
And they may be in a better position to give guidance.
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Peter Brichs
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XanderF wrote:
Isn't an "intervention" usually the way to force the issue?

IE., talk to other friends/family/coworkers and find out who has had similar observations, and set a time for the group to meet her to force the conversation.



This. Worked in our family (even though we didn't do the entire writing-letters-and-explaining-our-emotions).
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Steve B
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One of the best things you can do for someone with depression is to listen to them and not judge. That helps them more than anything else in the immediate.

For dealing with clinical depression, it is really up to them to take the next step to find help. You can't force it. It's even harder if it's someone who you are very close to.

What helped me push someone in the right direction to seek help was to not only bring up my thoughts, but things I had heard from other people they knew as well. I'm not talking "intervention", as a large group of people may scare the person and make them not want help that much more. (This all depends on the type of depression and how they perceive themselves and the world.) What I am saying is just one on one "Hey, this is what others see as what's going on." This worked well for someone very close to me.

Does this person you are worried about deal well with large groups or small groups? Do you know of any triggers they have that make them more depressed? Rather, what "pushes their buttons"?

EDIT: I have depression, so do many people I know. This is all based on about 10 years experience of dealing with it in real life.
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JessA
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I'm sorry you're going through this, Jeff, it's so hard to watch someone be miserable.

I've never heard of interventions for depression, so I would tread carefully there. If she is opposed to getting help then your options are very limited.

Of course, if you think this person is a danger to themselves or others there are legal avenues to getting them treatment.

I think your best option to go yourself for help either to a counselor or to a group for family and friends of those dealing with a mental illness. One resource I know of is: http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?section=Find_Support I'm sure there are others.

Make certain that this person knows your suggestions are coming from a place of caring. Many people with depression feel so judged and looked down upon - they may see treatment as just another failure and a validation of why they feel worthless.
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Key Locks
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That's always the rub, isn't it? So many people who need help aren't willing to get it.

I have had people I am very close to who needed to get help for depression, but they didn't want it. I tried to get them to get help, but it didn't work.

I don't have any easy answers for you. A person is only going to get better when they decide they need help, and I don't think anyone can force them to do that. They have to make the choice themselves.
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Jennifer Derrick
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As someone who has battled depression since adolescence, here are my thoughts. There's very little you can do for your friend and if you force it, you will alienate the person who will then just feel more depressed because yet another friend has shown that they can't be trusted/aren't supportive, etc.

The thing about depression is that it's all-consuming. Even the thought of getting help is just too much for a very depressed person to deal with. Going somewhere, getting dressed, talking to someone, paying for it, sorting through insurance, etc. is all just too damn much to contemplate. And coming from the bottom of depression, the thought usually is, "It won't help anyway, so why bother?"

And, like someone touched on above, the thought of getting better can be scary in and of itself. It doesn't make sense to non-depressed folks, but people who are depressed, particularly for a long time, get used to it and get comfortable with it. The thought of change (no matter how beneficial) is scary. It's easier to stay where you are than to risk change. To the depressed person, change is only likely to make things worse, not better. They simply can't see beyond the blinders of the disease to recognize that things could be better so it's all about protecting yourself and not doing anything that could potentially make things worse. And treatment is seen as potentially making things worse because they'll be different.

You also run into the problem where some people won't seek help because they feel there is a stigma attached to depression. They don't want to admit they have a problem because they're afraid of what others will think. What if their boss found out? Their parents? Their coworkers? Depending on how "enlightened" an area they come from or their upbringing, admitting to depression can be a huge deal.

I wouldn't go with an intervention because the person is going to feel embarrassed that so many people know her business and you're likely to scare her. Many depressed people are withdrawn from social situations so a huge group of people confronting her is going to be scary and only make her feel more like people are against her, the world hates her, friends can't be trusted, etc.

At some point, you have to to hope that this person will want to get help. Then it gets much easier. If she's threatening suicide, there are ways to have her forcibly admitted to a hospital, but that's last resort type stuff.

I would say that your best bet is to be there for her and don't let the disease drive you away. Depressed people can be hard to be around so it takes some fortitude to hang in there. If she's ever ready to get help, you can be there.

As far as non-threatening measures, you might suggest she take up journaling (it made a huge difference for me) as a way to get out some feelings without having to actually go for help. You could make it a nice present of a pretty journal and a good pen. Journaling may get her to the point where she wants more help, eventually. Or not. But it can't hurt and it can give her a safe space to explore what's bothering her without fear of judgment.

You might also encourage her to just go see her primary care physician for a physical and some blood work. That's a lot less threatening than suggesting a psychiatrist and meds. Sometimes depression is a result of a vitamin deficiency, anemia, or other easily treated physical problem. Everyone needs a physical and she might go for that as it seems less scary than going to a counselor. If you're very lucky, she might say something to the doctor (that whole doctor/patient confidentiality thing can sometimes crack the door a bit) about her depression and perhaps the doctor would have more success in guiding her to treatment.

At any rate, you're a good friend for being concerned. There's just not much you can do.
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Blorb Plorbst
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Bloomington
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As others have said, go talk to a licensed family therapist yourself. They will have had experience with issues like this and may offer useful advice and perhaps some literature that you could share with your friend.

I think many people don't seek counseling because they think they just have to "snap out of it" and the fact that they don't is due to some failing on their part. It can be a pretty nasty cycle. Anti-depressant medication coupled with cognitive behavioral therapy has proven to be a very effective way to address clinical depression.
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SAKURA in KYOTO 2018 Back to Kansai
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When somebody has depression, the depression itself acts to prevent them realising they have an illness. As somebody on the outside, you can see the person is 'depressed'. As somebody on outside, you have no idea what depression is really like from their perspective, from the inside. It's very deep, very controlling, and self-sustaining.

Add in a lot of cultural suppression (refering to it as 'the blues', or melancholia or whatever, but not ever as an illness), and peer pressure to keep it hidden from view, and the person who is ill either cannot or will not admit it's an illness.

They do know they are in terrible pain, but they'll put it down to other reasons, not recognising that it's an illness that, for a lot of people, can be treated.

They do know that day to day life is a constant struggle. They do not recognise it's an illness. In the way that a person knows a rash is a symptom of illness, or vomiting is a symptom of illness, they cannot know that the pain is a symptom of illness. The pain is caused by various things, loss, betrayal, heartbreak, physical pain and so on.

Once you get past it, and recover, then looking back it seems obvious that it's an illness. But whilst you're in it, it's just all-consuming pain that you have to conceal from everyone.

Do seek professional advice.

Do not stop just because they rejected your help once. But try and find softer ways to help. Sympathy and being non-judgemental will go a long way.

I also suggest looking at simple cognitive therapies, such as affirmations. Understanding that it's actually your thoughts that control your feelings is a major step forward. We're mis-taught that our feelings lead to our thoughts about our feelings. On the contrary, it's your sub-conscious mind that controls your feelings. Understanding the way your subconscious works and behaves, understanding how to recognise bad thinking patterns and understanding how to control them, are key steps to regaining control of your mind. You cannot always control them, but knowing that they can be controlled is a powerful support.

There are lots of useful cognitive techniques that can help a person, any person. There are ways of visualising painful events in your past, that allow you to comfort yourself, and give you separation and release from the event and the consequent pain. There are ways of recognising your self-worth, and promoting positive responses. "Cognitive Court" is one method that helps handle irrational thoughts that damage a person's self-worth.

I mention all these as topics to look into. Don't bother with online help, you need to read professional texts. People are quick to mock self-help books, but you could start there. When you have an understanding of the way the subconscious works, and how to use relaxation, meditation, affirmation and other cognitive therapies, then you'll be able to talk to your friend in helpful ways.

Do not give up. Find better ways. Do not give up. You cannot cure them or bring them to the cure. But you can help them survive through the illness.
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