Helping Someone Who is Depressed, and Who Resists Help


How can I help a person who is close to me - a relative - when he is in a depressed down state? He is very dear to me and I feel I must help but see that he doesn't want to accept any help.But I can't be passive about it anyway, I can't see him suffer. What should I do?

—Irina, Russia


Dear Friend,

Yours is a poignant dilemma, for how can we help anyone who doesn’t accept our help? In fact, of course, we CANNOT help one who refuses our help! And yet, we cannot NOT TRY to help! What a dilemma.

A few thoughts, nonetheless, occur which may be at least somewhat helpful:

1) Each day in your meditations pray for your friend (relative). Surround him with God’s joy and light and hold him in that light for as long as your concentration (and YOUR JOY) permit.

2) So long as he does not accept your help AS HELP, then try just to be friendly in a natural and relaxed way to interact without discussing his state of mind or attitudes directly. Some examples follow:

3) Check in by phone every day or two.

4) Invite him out to a meal or over for a meal, or bring him food from time to time.

5) Invite him out to a movie, a play, a hike, a walk around the neighborhood.

6) Ask other friends or relatives to engage him in ways that are natural, also, and yet not obvious.

7) Does he have access to good medical care? Mental health services?

8) The secret is this: ENERGY (MOVEMENT). when depressed one’s energy is locked up. The first step therefore is to get him to move. I mean literally: get up, walk around, do something, exercise, laugh, tell jokes, cook a meal, clean the house…………ANYTHING BUT to stay home alone under the covers, sitting on the couch, watching TV, or surfing the internet.

9) Another secret is this: SERVICE…..helping OTHERS IS THE BEST WAY TO HELP ONESELF. Ask him a favor! See if there’s some other friend, relative, neighbor or worthy cause that might motivate him to help someone else.

10) Avoid talking about his “problems” or commiserating, even when he might want to “talk about it.” Staying in his head allows him to stay in his head. Problems aren’t solved that way but through energy, so long as energy is paralyzed by depression.

Well, I think that’s plenty for now. ok?


Nayaswami Hriman