I am 41, married with children, have a part time job, and am going to school online. My problem is, I am depressed, and I have NO friends. I have many aquaintances, but no friends. I don’t know how to get out of this depression. Help!

A: I’m guessing that it was really hard for you to write for help. You don’t give me much to go on. Nonetheless, I can make a guess or two. You are a very, very busy woman. Online courses are convenient but most people don’t expect the amount of time and diligence they take to do well. My hunch is that you’ve become increasingly isolated and that your depression is rooted in loneliness. Oh, you certainly are around people at your job and at kid events. But true friendships take time and many contacts to develop and maintain. Rushing from one thing to another with whatever “free” time you had now devoted to an online class means there is little time to just hang out with other adults. It’s hard to have an in-depth conversation and to share your heart with someone if you’re watching the clock.

You didn’t say anything about your marriage except that you’re married. I wonder if you and your husband can talk about finding a way to give you a few blocks of time a week without home responsibilities so that you could do something for yourself that would help you meet people who share your interests. I wonder if the two of you could also be doing more to develop friends as a couple.

While you are making those changes, I do suggest that you go to a licensed professional for an evaluation. I’m not in a position to judge whether you are simply under stress and feeling down or if you’ve developed a clinical depression that needs treatment. I wouldn’t want you to go without treatment because I’ve focused on the practical aspects of the problem. Both can be true: Sometimes people need to both make some immediate life changes and get some treatment. I hope this helps.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie