How to Successfully Ask a Depressive Friend What’s Wrong

People are very picky about places.

People are very picky about places.

This advice is geared toward Generation Z , but can work for people of all ages.


We’ve all been in situations when we don’t want to tell about our feelings when our friends ask about it. It is not a great feeling to say “I’m good” when you’re not. That is especially the case for people who suffer from depression who can never tell you what’s wrong. It’s why, if you assume that your friend is in the dark place, you have to know how to appeal to them. And this is how to make them “walk” towards the sound of your voice, instead of ignoring it like everyone else’s.

Right Place, Right Time 

You can’t start a conversation with a friend about their depression right at the mall, bus stop or some birthday party. It would be the same as making a marriage proposal in the public bathroom with a ring made of gum that you’ve picked up from the floor. Even if your significant other loves you with all heart and wants to marry you, a big part of that person will not want to accept your proposal if you do it this way because of inappropriate atmosphere of that place. People are very picky about places. And when the topic of conversation is dedicated to their deep, personal feelings – the depressed ones take the cake. Waiting out for a perfect moment is not an option (for obvious reasons). That’s why you should properly initiate and create this moment yourself, if circumstances are against you. 

The Wrong Way to Approach a Depressive Friend
1. Hey, you look sad
2. Let’s go out somewhere 
3. I want to talk 

Your Friend Will Think
1. I look sad because I am sad, you Sherlock 
2. I don’t want to go anywhere
3. I don’t want to talk

This method is ineffective because of its lack of originality. For instance, most people would choose a wooden transformer instead of one of the zillion copies of green toy soldiers. Especially when they got used to receiving these toys almost every day and they don’t want to play with them. So, it is good idea to present something unusual.

The Right Way to Approach a Depressive Friend
1. You look sad. I don’t love you when you’re sad 
2. Yeah, I’m not in the great mood as well 
3. Let’s get some ice-cream or whatever you enjoyed eating in the past the most. 
4. I need someone to talk to, Billly! Please, help me out.

Your Friend Will Think
1. He doesn’t love me when I’m sad? That sounded weird. Does he wanted to tell that he loves me only when I’m happy? What the hell? 
2. Oh, you think you’re the one who’s in the bad mood! But I guess now we have a common topic to talk about...
3. I don’t like ice-cream… but I could go for some tacos.
4. Wow, he’s not having discomfort in asking for help. I’d say he’s even desperate to a certain degree. He’s my friend. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to go out, afterall. I might want to tell him something that’s bothering me if he asks.

IMPORTANT. Before we go any further, note that the following tips are useful only if your friend is not up to something important, like planned meeting, a test or an interview. If your friend is always available for a private conversation, scroll to the final paragraph of the article.

How to Use Humor With a Depressive Friend
One of the greatest ways of making it difficult for person to refuse your any proposal is to apply a good sense of humor. Humor is a tremendous tool for taking any person into a talking zone. And even if your friend experiences a high level of sadness and has no desire to laugh, you can still force him to smile sincerely within a minute if not couple of seconds. A good way of starting doing that (if there are no humorous inspirations around) is to go to the inside jokes. This method of making someone smile will be a reminded of that you are one of the very few people who can identify with that person in this peculiar way. That is why you will be appreciated and will be more likely to receive a positive reaction. 

2 Easy Ways to Make Someone Laugh
1. Play Tommy Wiseau’s “You are tearing me apart” scene from “The Room”. It’s okay to refer to your friend as Lisa. If your lines didn’t work, say “take 2… action!” slap your hands and play the scene again. 
2. Threaten to bite if you don’t go out for ice-cream together. It is important to stay this phrase dead serious in order to make it sound and look hilarious.

Many people will disagree with this method at first. They will state that it is overly aggressive and provocative. Because it is. When we talk about friendship, we have to understand that the real friends sometimes have to be rude to each other. It’s like with the people who suffer from an alcohol addiction and don’t see the problem. They need someone who can cynically tell them what’s wrong. Otherwise, that person won’t see how it effects you and your friendship. 

Another good point in support of this move is the fact that people love drama. And depressive people are the most passionate about it. That is why if you give them this bit of dramatic nourishment, they might want to give you what you want in return. The following examples will help you to get the idea how to do it properly.

Right way: “Go fuck yourself! You are the only friend I want to talk about my problems. I’m trying my best to make you laugh so that you could get in the nice mood and agree to go out for some free, delicious ice-cream and all I hear is “no”. If you don’t want to help out your friend simply by listening and eating, then you’re fucking asshole!” 

Your anger can actually make your friend chuckle or even burst into laughter. Of course, If that person cares about your friendship, there’s also a possibility that he will feel guilty at the same time. That way, chances of him agreeing to go out will increase.

If you played the victim perfectly, and your friend still refuses to go, you have to deliver the following message:

“Look, you are my friend and I care about you. I don’t want to fight with you over my problems. I’ll try to handle it myself. I’ll be in touch”

Remember, that it is important to walk away with making sure that your statement was interpreted correctly. 

The Proper Way of Asking 
Before even starting a conversation with your friend, think of yourself as a professional interviewer. Generally speaking there are two types of interviewers: straightforward knuckleheads and patient, mental picklocking specialists. The first group of journalists almost never succeeds in getting full information from the person they interview. They might get an expressive reaction followed by strong desire to end the conversation. But that is not what we want from our friend who is having some issues. What we want is to use tactics of a legit interviewer. The one who will apply a surgical attitude and extreme carefulness in ability to unnoticeably pull the necessary thoughts out from the head of his guest. Sounds like some manipulation? Because it is! But lord knows that you are using this mental scalpel for good. So in order for this surgery to go on well – take your time. 

Don’t
1. Start by assuming your friend suffers from depression 
2. Then say, “I’m starting to worry about you “
3. “What’s wrong?” 

As it was mentioned earlier, depressed people like to overdramatize. Thus, if you go to the “wrong way” strategy, they will likely think..”So he was lying to me. It was a white lie, but still… you all people lie!” or “It will take forever for me to explain what’s wrong.” “He won’t understand my problems” or “Do I go for “I’m good” option this time?”

Most people are not open about their feelings when they’re having problems. That is why it is better to use another option, that involves you taking your time.

Instead…
1. If I was a typical parent who suspected that his son smokes, I’d say something like this:
“Brian, for the third time in this week I sense the smell of cigars on your clothes. I’ve just seen a round burn on your wrist. I believe you have something to say to me”
2. But I am your friend. And I suspect that you’re having a tough times. And that is why I have a bit different speech:
“Brian, for the third time in this week I notice that you look unhappy. I don’t want to bother you, but I also want to know what’s going on. I know it can be difficult to open up about it. But since I am your friend, let me look through the peephole with this simple question. What is one of the things that bothers you the least lately? 

You have to go from general questions to more detailed and personal. It should be the same as putting someone in a warm bath, instead of throwing person into the hot one. All you have to do is gradually increase the temperature to the one that your “bathing subject” will be okay with. So be conscious, and you won’t boil your friend. 

This whole strategy will make your friend appreciate that you didn’t make the situation awkward by being straightforward like most people if not everyone. But even if he won’t notice it, it will create a comfort. That will lead to good chances to tell you what is the problem.

P. S. There’s also a good chance that you are the one who suffers from depression and feels uncomfortable to start to talk about it. If that’s the case, you can always send this article to someone whose support you’d like to have and ask that person to scroll it down till the end.

generation Z


About the author:
Zack Hargrove is a freelance editor and writer. Most of his topics are dedicated to music, education and ways of strengthening your scientific curiosity. He notes, “I originally wrote this for a college class, but my professor refused to accept my paper because there is cursing in the piece. I wanted to share it as a guide because these are the tips that still help me to find out a lot about people I care about.”