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It might extend your relationship when a buddy suffers from depression. You might even get to the point where you’re feeling as though your friend is dragging you down along with her. “Emotions are contagious,” says Linda Sapadin, PhD, a psychologist in Valley Stream, N.Y., who specializes in overcoming self defeating patterns of behaviour. It’s not consistently easy coping with a friend who is depressed, especially if the depression is severe. But without overextending yourself you can help your buddy and provide support. Here’s how:

Be realistic.
Depression is a very serious mental health issue. Somebody who is depressed isn’t just glad or down. Your friend can really feel helpless, hopeless, and restless — negative feelings that simply do not go away. Don’t tell your buddy to “snap out of it” or “get over it”. That’s impossible. Should you expect her to feel better simply since you say so, you will set yourself up for frustration. Recovery from depression takes some time.

Be a good listener. Let your buddy talk to you about his feelings, but do not let him always wallow in self pity. Going on and on about depression can make him even more depressed. Listen to what he has to say, but set boundaries. Say you will listen but solely for 10 to 15 minutes, if your buddy needs to talk continuously about depression or however long you believe is not unreasonable. Keep an eye on the clock and do not let your friend bully you. “Say, ‘We Have spoken about this for a while. Life is about more than this. It’s time to move on,'” Sapadin advises.

Suggest distractions. Call your friend and suggest you do something collectively that is pleasing, like going to some funny movie or out to eat, Sapadin says. It could take your friend’s mind off the troubles causing the depression for only a couple of hours. But since emotions are contagious, it can bring you both up, she says.

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Offer your help. If you are prepared to help, ask your friend everything you can do for her, like grocery shopping or preparing meals. Again, establish boundaries. If you believe your friend is asking of you, let her don’t go beyond what you’re comfortable with because you feel sorry for her and know. That doesn’t help your camaraderie, and you could end up resenting each other. You may indicate something your buddy can do to help you too. Remind your friend that friendship is a two-way street.

Do your own thing. Your friend’s depression may require one to go from your strategy to help out now and then. But do not let his melancholy stop you from keeping your appointments and going out with other buddies. You are not being self-centered– you are just looking for your own personal mental health. In case your pal reneges on plans you had for a trip to the museum because he’s depressed, find someone else who will go with you or to see a picture.

Encourage your friend to stick with mental health treatment. As much as you may like to, you can not be the therapist. Remind your buddy that the right treatment and therapy is the way to get his life back. “If you visit an excellent article on melancholy, email it to your buddy and say, ‘I trust that is helpful,'” Sapadin says. If at all possible, offer to assist your friend get to treatment appointments.

Take stock of your friendship. “Understand if you’re being helpful, and in case you are, continue what you’re doing,” Sapadin says. “It’ll feel great to you personally too.” However if you are being sapped by the relationship along with your depressed friend, step away. Take a break for a little while. “If you’re emptied by your relationship, you may be two people going down the cliff together,” she warns. And that won’t help either of you.

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