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Q. We have been best friends since grade 2 (we are now in grade 11) and just recently she has become depressed and is pushing everyone away. She has stopped eating yet won’t admit it and her marks at school are going down dramatically. She kept telling me that she was sad or depressed but she wouldn’t continue and say she’d already spoken about it to someone else (i asked them and she hadn’t). Her mum spoke to me and another friend to say she was worried and we said we were to. I finally confronted her. She laughed at first but then she started getting really angry saying that i was lying and that she was sick of me trying to fix things. She was extremely angry and started blurting out stuff. I found out that she has been talking to another depressed guy over the internet and getting advice from him. This isn’t good seeing as he’s suicidal. She won’t speak to me now. I went and told her mum what happened and she got angry at me for mentioning her because now she’s being yelled at too. I was just trying to help. I had no idea that she would get so angry. I’m worried about what advice this guy on the internet is giving her. I don’t know what else to do.

A. There may be little that you can do. I would have suggested that you talk to her parents about your concerns but you have already done this. You tried to help her and she refused your help. There is not much else that you can do.

It might be helpful if you left her alone for now. If you have tried to help and she says she does not want your assistance but you keep pushing you risk seriously damaging your friendship. You did the right thing by trying to help her and alerting her parents when you thought she was in danger but when the person you are trying to help angrily insists that you stop, you should stop.

As a concerned friend, I recognize how difficult it might be to follow this advice. It is difficult to watch a person that you care about make poor choices that are harmful to them. You must realize, however, that you cannot force an individual to do something they decide they do not want to engage in. If she tells you that she is planning to harm herself or others or has plans to attempt suicide then you must alert her parents and the authorities immediately but short of this, there’s little that you could do for her when she is currently refusing to speak to you.

At this point in time, it may be best to give her space. She may reconsider your offer for help in the future or may decide to get it on her own but for now, she’s not interested. Respect her decision not to get help even though it’s difficult for you to understand and be there for her if she changes her mind. Thanks for writing.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Aug 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). What to do With a Depressed Friend Who Doesn’t Want Help?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/08/18/what-to-do-with-a-depressed-friend-who-doesnt-want-help/

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