Caring for a Depressed Friend | John Ankerberg Show

Caring for a Depressed Friend

By: R.L. Wilson  |   ©2019
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I sat with a friend yesterday who, in my decidedly unprofessional opinion, is suffering from depression. Only she doesn’t seem to think that’s what’s wrong. Still, she checks off most of the boxes on symptoms, so I am very worried for her. And I feel completely helpless. 

Her situation is compounded by the fact that she was in a serious accident a few years ago and suffers from chronic pain. Several times she mentioned she was so very tired of being in pain. She’s lost weight (deliberately), takes painkillers, goes to a physical therapist. Nothing has helped.

Looking for answers for how to help her, I found a few things on the internet and wanted to pass them along.[1] Maybe they will help you find a way to help someone you know.

First, be a listening ear. Sometimes all a depressed person really wants is someone to talk to, to acknowledge that she doesn’t feel right. She may just need you to affirm that it’s not wrong to not feel right, if you can follow that train! But you also need to urge her to get help. Especially if you sense suicidal feelings. Those are no joke, and need to be immediately addressed.

Second, be proactive. Bring flowers, take her out for a walk, to dinner, shopping. The last thing she needs is to be alone with her sad thoughts all the time. 

Third, be patient. She probably won’t be a lot of fun to be around. She may not want to socialize, but keep trying to draw her out. Keep her engaged with the world. 

The bottom line here is to love her. Whatever that looks like.

And it bears repeating. If you sense your friend is suicidal, intervene immediately. Get professional help. 

I didn’t really get the impression my friend doubted God. But she definitely gave vibes that she was questioning God’s goodness and faithfulness. I’ve often found in situations like this that the person who is depressed really doesn’t want to get spiritual with you. Sometimes they’re just mad at God. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there. 

In the end, it is God who is the ultimate healer. When we are at our weakest, He is strong. The Psalms are just chock full of people pouring out their depression, and finding hope and light in God. Perhaps you could read some of those Psalms with her and pray that God would give her that light. Or, studying God’s names together may also be helpful.

Yesterday I reminded her of one of my favorite verses, found in 2 Timothy 2. It starts in verse 11 with a couple of contrasts: if we die with Him, we will live with Him; if we endure, we will reign; if we deny Him, He will deny us. But then, verse 13: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself”! Did you get that? He cannot not be faithful! And it doesn’t rely on us or what we think or feel. It’s Him. 

So, my depressed friend, if you are feeling down, remember that God is there. He is faithfully caring for you. You are surrounded by His love – and “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).

But get help. 

(I’m happy to report that my friend has gotten professional help, and is already seeing some improvement. But I’ll keep praying and listening and being there for her.)


[1] These three points are paraphrased from an article entitled “3 Ways to Care for Your Depressed Friend” by Mary Keith, https://www.cru.org/us/en/blog/life-and-relationships/emotions/3-ways-to-care-for-your-depressed-friend.html

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