How to Help Neighbor Suffering from Depression

Updated on October 22, 2009
M.P. asks from Peoria, IL
5 answers

Hello all-

I have a really nice neighbor and I talk to her whenver I see her, (never over the phone or e-mail though). I hadn't seen her for months and recently saw her walking. When I asked how she was, she told me that she is suffering from depression...going back to work and recently having her third child was just too much. So my question is, what can I do for her? I have never been in this situation, and we're not so close that I would pop by and help with chores around the house, etc. For now, I just offered if she wants to come by for a cup of coffe or just to have a visit, to come by anytime. I feel so bad because she is really sweet, but I don't want to be that annoying neighbor that keeps bugging the person who wants to be left alone either! If you've been there and have any advice, please do share!


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answers from Chicago on

You are a very kind person to want to help. First her walking is a good aide for her to get through this, but secondly there is clinical depression (different than blues, or just sad about a circumstance) which actually requires the assistance of a doctor, which we can't make anyone due. And if she had a baby she might have postpartum depression and that is treatable from what I know. I am sure she is happy someone cares about her. She might enjoy you visiting for coffee or maybe she will come to see you now that you have invited her. Trouble is sometimes people are so depressed they don't see that they should venture out to do something. So perhaps cheer her on in her walking and let her know that vitamin D is helping her and if you know of tasty nutritional foods you can mention that. You know you get the picture. And of course like the other poster said you could invite her to dinner. But she does have three additional kids! So maybe you could make a dinner and drop it off! If she is working and taking care of kids that might be a very welcome thing!



answers from Chicago on

Well some options are: offer to go walking with her, make dinner for her one night, set up a date with her husband to watch their kids so they can have a date night, ask her to go to starbucks after the kids go are very thoughtful for wanting to do something for her.....i am sure she will appreciate whatever you do.


answers from Chicago on

Well, as someone who has suffered from depression related to infertility on and off for about five years (and is now on Lexapro - a Godsend - and I've moved to adoption - yay), I would tell you, don't ask, just do. Stop over during the day - bring over a prepared lunch and have a real heart-to-heart conversation with her like you would a good friend. Ask her how she's doing. Ask if everything's alright. Ask if she's seen a counselor or doctor - especially if she's postpartum - hormones wreak havoc on women, but it's even worse if you're predisposed to depression.

Is she married? If so, you might want to ask her if she's shared this with her husband. If not, ask her if she has any family nearby or friends - if she has much support. (As a single woman I can tell you I sure wish people were more sensitive to how hard it is sometimes running a house, wishing I had a great husband to share my ups and downs with) Give her your number and e-mail and don't wait for her to call you or e-mail you. That night e-mail her to tell her how great it was to spend some time with her. Call her in a few days just to say hi and that you're thinking of her.

Don't just say, well if there's anything I can do - often when someone's depressed they HATE asking for help - you'll never get the call. Instead, say, go over there with a can-do, take-charge encouraging attitude "well, let's see, what can we do that will give you a lift? What is something that's really bugging you or getting you down?" Make a list of a few things you can do together. Maybe she's looking around her house and she's overwhelmed - maybe with an extra helping hand she can get her place organized. I'm single and I love when anyone offers to help me - two people can get so much more done so quickly.

Find out what it is that she's depressed about - is it marital, financial, or just feeling overwhelmed. If it's something you can help with, great, if it's not, maybe you can make some suggestions about finding a good therapist, a financial advisor. Maybe she can hire a teen for two hours each weekend to give her a mommy break - or to help with chores around the house.

Anyway, you are SO kind to think of her. We've really lost a sense of community in the last couple of decades, with people moving all over and keeping to themselves. It's great when neighbors show concern for one another.

At my peak, I was so depressed and my neighbor came over and asked me if I wanted to go see that Mel Gibson movie about Christ - I looked at her as if she was crazy. The last thing someone who is depressed wants to see is some deep heavy movie! LOL She's a very nice woman and I'm sure she meant well, but man, was she off.



answers from Chicago on

A friend and neighbor suffered with depression on an off for many years. I make sure to keep in touch with her weekly. I make time to chat with her and most importantly just listen. I invite her along for different events and although she rarely accepts I know she appreciates being thought of. You might even like to join her on her walks as a way to connect & be supportive.



answers from Chicago on

I'd just make them a dinner and leave it at that.

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