How can I help my depressed friend when he's keeping it a secret?
October 7, 2013 4:57 PM Subscribe
Hi all, I need your advice.
My friend Todd recently told me that he's suffering from depression, and that he has been for many years. He says sometimes it's not too bad, but sometimes he feels so rotten that he doesn't even leave his room to get food and goes hungry for days. That sounds like a dangerous level of depression to me, and I am afraid for him.
Todd is a really close friend and super important to me, and I want to help him as much as I can. We live thousands of kilometers apart these days. How can I help from so far away?
Snowflakey complications inside.
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He tried antidepressants before and they made it so he couldn't connect with his art, so he stopped taking them. He's an artist and art is the most important thing to him - he says it's what makes his life worth living. Any possible solutions must recognize the centrality of art to his life. This really must not be fucked with.
Todd lives in rural Canada. Getting to the doctor's office requires a car, which he doesn't have. So to get to the doctor he would have to find someone who could give him a drive. Figuring out a medication regimen is likely to require a number of doctor visits, is it not? The prospect of regularly begging people for rides is off-putting to him - and I totally understand that. It's a socially awkward situation that requires a lot of mental energy, very much the sort of thing that's extra hard when you're depressed.
Todd does live with one of his parents. I think Parent might be able to arrange the rides, but Todd doesn't want Parent to know about his depression. Parent has a mental illness as well, and Todd doesn't want to upset Parent.
Todd has been keeping his depression a secret, and plans to continue doing so as far as I know. This makes getting help extremely difficult. How can you get help from your family and community without telling them what's wrong?
I've tried to come up with some helpful suggestions for him, but I know how hard it can be to do much of anything when you're depressed. The automatic reaction to any suggestion is "I can think of a bunch of reasons why that won't work." I made my suggestions anyway. Can you think of anything else?
Things I have suggested:
* confide in someone geographically nearer to him, so they can watch out for him
* get on different antidepressants - talk to a doctor who understands how crucial being able to create art is to his wellbeing, and work to find a prescription that doesn't interfere with his creative process (having no car is a problem for this one)
* exercise/physically active hobbies
* cognitive therapy
* I gave him a copy of a CBT self-help book that helped me, and exhorted him to read it. He said he would try to push himself to read it.
* CBT in person with a psychologist? is that expensive?
* surround himself with things that make him happy
* vitamin D supplements (he sleeps in the daytime and hardly spends any time in the sun ever)
(Identities have been changed and post is anonymous for confidentiality reasons.)