By Rick Qualls
It convinces you, ‘“My friends don’t want to be around me.” “I’ll just bring everyone else down.” “I am not worthy of having friends.” “Nobody likes me anymore.”
When you are depressed, making and keeping friends can be a challenge. But research shows that a group of positive friends makes a difference.
Professor Frances Griffiths, head of social science and systems in health at Warwick Medical School University of Warwick, said: “Depression is a major public health concern worldwide. But the good news is we’ve found that a healthy mood amongst friends is linked with a significantly reduced risk of developing and increased chance of recovering from depression.”
In Griffiths‘ study teens who have five or more mentally positive friendships have half the likelihood of depression. Those with ten friends have twice the probability of recovering from their depression symptoms.
What can you look for in positive friendships? Good friends offer space to be yourself. They don’t try to fix you or try to make you act a certain way. They listen and offer support not judgment.
The Bible offers practical advice on developing and maintaining good friendships.
Good friends take time for each other. Friendships don’t occur in a vacuum. “Be devoted to one another…” Romans 12:16. Spending time together doing activities that you enjoy or working on projects together create opportunities to build relationships.
Healthy friends disregard social differences, and do not avoid each other when problems arise. “Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16
Positive friends are not narcissistic. A narcissist can be attractive to be around at first. They are full of “self-confidence” and an energy that draws us when our self-confidence is at a low ebb.
But it is a negative signal if they manipulate you to prop up their ego. They talk about themselves and their accomplishments. They brag about knowing how to get special treatment. It is a warning if you begin to notice that all they talk about is themselves. You may notice they lack empathy or compassion or caring for others. A narcissist uses your depression against you and will make your situation worse.
Good friends develop trust over time and it becomes safe to share their deepest hearts, even the weakness and sin in our lives. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…James 5:16
Positive friends offer non-judgmental support and listening. Friends accept you when you are depressed, when you are grieving, or going through any kind of trials. “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:7
Solid relationships are based know how to put up with each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Everyone has some peculiar behaviors. “…be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Eph 4:2
Friends build each other up and do not tear the other down. Words are powerful tools to help bolster one another. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Eph 4:29
Friendships don’t just happen. We must be intentional about developing these relationships. They take time, encouragement, trust, and sharing with one another.
These healthy friendships can have positive impact on your depression.
Depression lies. There are people around you that care.
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Photograph by Priscilla Du Preez
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