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Health And Family

It can be tiring to help a depressive

THE SEX ADVISOR - Eppy Halili Gochangco - The Philippine Star

Dear Eppy,

I am female and I have a female friend with depression. She’s been a friend of mine since we were in high school. When we were in college, a year before we graduated, I noticed a change in her. She was not as lively as she was before.  But she would still go out with me and our friends.

My friend would admit, too, that she is depressed. Sometimes, I would force her to go out with me, hoping this would help change her condition. But this failed. For years, I would do my best to help her. Aside from asking her to go out with me to meet our friends, I tried talking about it with her as well.  But her condition has not changed at all, it has even worsened.

How can I help my friend?              

Sad Friend

Dear Sad Friend,

Thank you for your email and sharing your story with me and my readers. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there with friends suffering from depression.  It’s nice of you to care for your friend and be concerned for her welfare after years of helping her.  It can be tiring to help a depressive.

First of all, do not make my response the basis of your decision as the best answer will always come from a face-to-face encounter with a mental health professional.  Also, it is all right to bring your friend out, but try not to solve the problem of your friend as you might feel hopeless, too.  I am not saying that you should not talk to her.  I am saying you shouldn’t try to reverse the depressive’s way of thinking as this will make you feel helpless and hopeless as well, which may trigger your own depression.

Depression, to this day, is a source of conflict for theorists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.  There are those who believe that it is biological, others see it as a result of a person’s experiences, while some others see it as a result of a person’s way of thinking.

I personally think that a person’s way of thinking can affect emotions, feelings, and experiences.  The way one thinks can cause one to have a certain mental condition.  Depression can also be caused by an interaction with an over-protective caregiver.  For example, it is normal for everyone to be sad one way or another.  Naturally, a child will feel sad when something sad has happened.  But if caregivers think that it is wrong to feel sad, then the natural response of that caregiver is to attend to the child when the child is sad.

Here is a possible conversation between a child and a caregiver who thinks that it is wrong to be sad:

Caregiver (C): You look sad.

Child (Ch): Yes, my friends don’t want to play with me.

C: Oh, why do you think your friends don’t want to play with you?

Ch: Because I am not a good friend.

C: No, that’s not true. You’re a good friend. Come, let’s go to the mall.

Because the caregiver asked the question, “Why do you think your friends don’t want to play with you?” the child tried to make sense of the situation by blaming himself.

If this conversation is repeated many times, the child will associate his being sad with getting attention. Then saying something bad about himself will make him feel bad about himself.  The depression now is reinforced by giving the reward at the wrong time.  Then his self-image becomes bad as he tries to find bad characteristics about himself because he sees that people respond to him the way he wants when he says something similar to “... because I’m not a good friend.”

That’s just one way of explaining it.  There are many others.  Bring your friend to a mental health professional so she can get the right treatment for her case.                                                              

Eppy

* * *

Email [email protected].

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