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Can You Clear The Test of True Friendship?
Helping a friend in times of trouble is the est gift of friendship.
Do you have a friend whose energy level is always rock bottom? Who finds it difficult to wake up in the morning, and even harder to sleep soundly at night? Who has erratic outbursts of crying and constantly feels like a failure? Chances are, you're dealing with someone who has depression, which is more than the minor blues or blahs, but a serious clinical problem that can change their physical health and appearance and ability to cope with life.

The first thing you need to do when you realise your pal is going through depression is give him a patient hearing. They might not speak eloquently, or make sense, or have the reasons you're seeking, but you need to listen patiently and without judgment.

Remember, clinical depression isn't necessarily a choice-your friend isn't being purposefully moody or lazy, it's a condition like any other medical state and like diabetes it needs to be taken seriously and treated. Difficult life experiences and certain personal patterns such as difficulty handling stress, low self-esteem, or extreme pessimism about the future can increase the chances of becoming depressed.

It's most tempting to try and fix the problem when you see your friend in despair, but sometimes that's the last thing he or she needs, so unless you're a trained therapist, be careful. Acknowledge that your friend is feeling depressed and give your friend 'permission' to feel the way he/she does, as opposed to saying, "What's the big deal? Everyone has problems! Get over it!"

Never trivialize the depression by dropping a platitude or clichι thinking that's their path to happiness. They'll probably make your buddy feel even worse, making him/her infinitely guilty and resentful.

So what are the things you should say? Well sometimes, you don't have to say anything at all, just hold their hand while they cry, letting them know you won't abandon them. Also you could help them get out of bed and encourage them to look fresh and clean. Offer to go out for a stroll, to get some exercise and fresh air.

Depression is curable, but it takes a long time and a lot of work, and can pop in and out in phases. A trained therapist or counselor can help your buddy learn to think more positively about themselves, change behaviour, cope with problems, or handle relationships.

Helping a friend through such a troubled time can be an extremely challenging task, and kudos to you if you manage it. It's a test of true friendship.
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Posted on : 28/11/2005
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