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Penn Nursing > MANUP > Help a Friend

Resources to Help a Friend 

For Friends of Men who may be Depressed











  • What does depression look like in men?

o   Depression in men may exhibit traditional symptoms, but it may also include more male-specific presentations. Have you noticed any of these in a friend?

o   Traditional symptoms of depression:[1]

§  Loss of interest in normal activities

§  Fatigue

§  Agitation, irritability

§  Indecisiveness, distractibility

§  Insomnia or excess sleeping

§  Trouble concentrating, making decisions, remembering things

§  Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, fixation on past failures

o   Men often deal with depression by:1

§   withdrawing from others and throwing themselves into their work

§  engaging in risky or dangerous behavior

§  becoming angry, frustrated and abusive

§  abusing alcohol and drugs

·         When to be concerned for a friend?  Any of the symptoms above are troubling, but especially:

o   Unprovoked anger or hostility

o   Excessive use of alcohol or drugs - alcohol and depression is a very risky combination

o   Changes in personality traits

o   Excessive fatigue

o   Noticeable change in weight

o   Overtly suicidal thoughts

o   Just because – you are their friend, if something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t

·         How can you help a friend who may be depressed?

o   Find a private place to talk

§  Often starting the conversation is the hardest part. As a friend, you may not want to be awkward or overstep your bounds. You may be concerned that your friend will be angry at you for suggesting that they have a problem. You may just not know what to say. These are all legitimate concerns, but you must overcome them if you wish to help. You may find that your friend really wants to open up to you – try these questions to give them that chance:

·         “Are you okay?”

·         “You don’t seem like yourself – what’s up?”

·         “I know you’ve been stressed lately, how can I help you?”

o   Bring up specific behaviors or events that caused your concern

o   Truly listen.

§  How to be a good listener:


o   Validate your friend’s feelings. Avoid judging or provoking

o   Help develop a plan. Suggest other resources your friend can consult or other people they can talk to

§  SHS stress reduction

o   Know your limits

§  Consult CAPS on your own or encourage your friend to make an appointment

§  Offer to call CAPS together or walk with your friend to CAPS

§  All appointments are confidential and free