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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.