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Prolonged Depression After a Sudden Breakup

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From Germany: I am asking help on behalf of a friend who is in a difficult situation for getting help or treatment. He used to be a normal person, until his relationship of about 2 years was interrupted very suddenly and unexpectedly. After that he started ditching work, and eventually ended up giving it up altogether and moved in with his parents.

His family and friends assume that the breakup is the reason for his depression, but he never talks about his problems to anybody. He has eventually cut off all his friends and colleagues. This went on for about two years and then his mother died. We assume it added to the problem. He is still not talking to anybody about his emotions or plans for the future, except essential conversations such as getting something to eat, etc.

He refused to go to a therapist. We are all confused how to help. Please give us a hint how to go about to start helping him. All together the problem has been going on for 2 years and a half.

Prolonged Depression After a Sudden Breakup

Answered by on -


Although I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a short letter, what you are describing is consistent with someone who is significantly depressed. Although the loss of his girlfriend didn’t help matters, I don’t think that is the root of the problem. It is even possible that his depressed mood contributed to the break up. I can’t know without talking to him. I also can’t comment on whether his mother’s death contributes to his problem. That would depend on his relationship with her and how he and his mother handled her illness.

Your friend is very fortunate to have such caring friends. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do beyond what you are already doing — talking to him and encouraging him to get into treatment. His father might have more leverage since your friend is living with him. His father could confer with a therapist about how best to help him and then try to involve his son.

Treatment does work. Studies show that 75% of people who enter therapy do benefit. But therapy only works if the patient engages. You can’t do that for him.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Prolonged Depression After a Sudden Breakup

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Prolonged Depression After a Sudden Breakup. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 27 Oct 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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