My friend is withdrawn and depressed. What can I do?
If someone has talked to you and you or they are concerned about their emotional or mental wellbeing, take the situation seriously and advise the person to seek professional assistance. Offer to take them or accompany them to their first appointment.
Most older people will talk to a doctor about a physical condition, but many find it hard talking about emotional or mental health problems for fear of being labelled or being a nuisance. They may not recognise what is happening or think nobody cares anyway. Many don’t believe that pills or counselling could possibly help them. Ageism also makes it harder for these issues to be addressed, with some older people made to feel they don’t matter or don’t deserve help. So, some friendly concern and support from you should help to break down any barriers.
As your question is about depression, we need to address that however there could be a number of issues at play here. A talk with her in the first instance might sort that out however if things sound more complex or you are still worried, encourage that visit to the doctor. You can contact the doctor yourself if you have serious concerns, such as for her safety.
Factors that increase the likelihood of depression may include:
physical (a medical condition, unrelenting pain, dementia or genetic influences)
emotional (the loss of an important relationship)
the side effects of medication
other mental health conditions
isolation, loneliness, stress, use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, or a combination of these.
Older people experience the ups and downs of life just like other age groups. They may also be at more risk of developing depression as losses, ill health, and other factors often compound over their lifespan.
Find out more about what you can do at depression.org.nz It has important information that will help you and your friend take the next step.