My best childhood friend is going through a rough patch. He is distraught about his future. He is fed up with his work, and his relationship with his mother and his stepfather is not good. He has been very depressed on several occasions. One time he even wanted to kill himself.

I tried to help him. I counseled him and told him about the peace that God can give him. I talked to him about Christ, but I don’t think that he takes me seriously. I don’t know what else to do. Every day he seems worse. The only thing that makes him happy is when we play sports together on the weekends.

I don’t want to give up on him. I am as concerned about his life as I am about my own. What am I doing wrong?

Dear Friend,

Your friend is blessed to have you in his life. It is possible that your friendship is the thing that keeps him going. Just having someone to confide in and to feel safe with is a huge gift that you are giving to him.

Unfortunately, we can’t answer your question about what you are doing wrong because you haven’t told us anything you are doing that is wrong. It sounds like you believe that if you were to get your words and counsel in order, then your friend would get out of the depression that he has fallen into. Sadly, this is not the way that it works. You can say all the right words and support him in every way possible, yet find that he is still depressed.

We have no way of knowing if your friend is depressed because of the situations in his life, or if he is possibly clinically depressed based on a chemical imbalance in his brain. Only a medical doctor can diagnose clinical depression, so we recommend that you try and convince your friend to consult with a doctor. He needs to tell the doctor how he is feeling and even about his thoughts of suicide. Whatever the doctor prescribes, whether it be medicine or a consultation with a different doctor, you should encourage your friend to follow through.

Although it is difficult to understand, depression does not respond to logic. You can make all the right arguments and even have all the right answers, only to find that depression has put up a wall between your friend’s negative thoughts (which he accepts as truth) and what you are telling him (which seems untrue).

Fear or anxiety for the future is definitely a cause of depression. Those who don’t trust God to work out the best in their lives feel lost and immobilized by the fear of making wrong decisions.

God can use the words that you have spoken to reverberate inside your friend’s brain and to speak to his conscience day by day. Pray that God will help you to model the confidence that comes from being able to trust in Him. Your example and your prayers are more likely to yield better results than your words.

We wish you well,