Dear Annie: My boyfriend, “Jarrod,” has always been very anxious about social situations and has a hard time making friends. Since graduating from high school, he’s lost touch with the few people he considered friends and has become very isolated. Together with the stress of passing his college courses, he has spiraled into a serious depression.
Jarrod constantly laments that he has no friends and that his family only wants him to get a job and move out. (They recently staged an intervention and referred to him as a “failure to launch.”) He thinks no one besides me would care if anything happened to him. He often states that he wishes everything would just end.
I want Jarrod to see a doctor and get help, but he says the idea of talking to someone about his problems scares him and stresses him out even more. He’s convinced no one can help him. He thinks antidepressants would make him feel worse. When I suggest that a better sleep schedule, healthier eating habits and more exercise could help, he says he doesn’t care enough to try.
How do I help him find the motivation to get the help he needs? I love him and am terrified that he’s just given up on life. – Worried in the Mountains
Dear Worried: Jarrod is depressed, but his unwillingness to get help prevents him from getting better and has become a burden on you. First, please understand that you are not responsible for his mental health, and you cannot help him without his cooperation. Tell him that one little step could make all the difference, and suggest he speak to a counselor at the college. Offer to go with him. You can notify the counseling office about Jarrod’s depression and ask them to check on him. We also recommend The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance ( dbsalliance.org).