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How to Cope With Lost Friendships and Relationships Caused by Depression

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
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Losing friends is part of life and it can be a difficult time to get through. It almost seems worse when the cause of that loss is something that can’t be controlled. For women with depression, symptoms and assumed personality traits can turn others away.

Many people attempt to surround themselves with happy-go-lucky and positive individuals. Sometimes those traits don’t coincide with depression, and the depressed person suffers from not only symptoms, but social isolation. Experts and fellow depression sufferers give their tips on how to cope with losing friends and relationships because of depression.

Lesli Doares, a marriage therapist and author, said in an email, women who have depression should first work on managing their symptoms and taking care of themselves. They also need to keep the people in their lives informed on what’s going on with their lives and their depression, and realize that they have to put some effort into all those relationships.

“Share your symptoms and how best to handle them with the important people in your life,” Doares said. “Don't make it hard for them to [be] part of your life. You need to be able to be a friend/partner for them at times too.”

Although effort is necessary, Karen Sherman, a psychologist, suggests in an email that women with depression should also not blame themselves.

“Depression is not your fault - it is an illness,” Sherman said. “If someone close to you isn't able to deal with your depression, it doesn't mean they don't love you ... it means they feel helpless in knowing how to respond to it. Seek out those who can.”

Maureen Daniek, a life transition coach, said in an email that losing friends while depressed can be a normal process.

“When people are depressed, it is common for others to back away,” Daniek said. “Know that it is OK if you are not able to give much right now to others; when we are depressed we don't have the energy or initiative to reach out and be ‘upbeat.’ Know that your energy will return as the depression lifts.”

Although there are multiple sayings supporting the idea that true friends will stay through thick and thin, forgiveness can be key.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Although there are a lot of valid points in this article (the need to take responsibility for one's own behaviours, the need to accept the feelings of others, and the need of both friends to take space) I feel this is like most other articles that come from the point of view of the "healthy" friend, rather than the depressed friend. Having friends walk away from one another because they are unwilling to learn about illness, and because they are unwilling to expend energy while a friend struggles, is very disrespectful and behaviour that is not indicative of a true friend. When my friends tell me something is wrong, whether it be sickness, work place related/relationship related, I try to read up on things, to share helpful articles and to support them. I help find resources in their area and provide a shoulder/ear to support them. I do not turn my back on them because it is frustrating and they are not being fun. We all have our limits, and depression can be a tough and longstanding challenge. When we are unwilling to put energy forward for our friends, we are failing as friends. I don't believe we should be telling people it is "okay" to shut out friends who are lost in the dark. You have placed a lot of onus on the people who are sick (and are likely struggling to keep their heads above water) while telling their "happy" friends that they needn't take responsibility for dismissing a friend in need.

November 12, 2015 - 11:00am

I had a really good friend I lost due to deppression.She and I go back 24 years.I tried to be their and I knew no matter what I said or did I couldn't break through whatever she was dealing with,as we all know with deppression everyone is different,so I called her less and less and reminded her when she was feeling better to call me back.We talked about her Dr.s app.s, her medications ect.I thought what a difference from our care free days to this kind of a relationship.I still called her knowing she wouldn't call me really,I spoke of the good times we use to have but eventually that seemed to go away. I had to cut my losses but told her I will always be their for her no matter what and I would give her space even thou I was not calling her much,as I have deppression to and she knew that.I told her I still needed to go out even just for a coffee or a walk once in a while but still it didn't do any good.I do my own thing now and I guess she is fine .I understand she has family and they are good to her and I feel comfort in that.

July 28, 2011 - 10:39am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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