I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning. She was complaining about how her hubby doesn't understand her depression. He thinks she's not doing everything she could be to "naturally" manage her depression. While it is true that there are several things you can do to manage depression naturally (get plenty of rest, eat a balanced diet, give yourself a break when you need it, exercise, and get outside from time to time), particularly if you know your own personal triggers and can avoid them when possible, there is an element that cannot be controlled this way.
One thing that is often hard for family members and friends to understand is that CLINICAL DEPRESSION IS A MEDICAL CONDITION. As such, it's hard for them to understand that you can't just "snap out of it!", that medication and/or counseling may be necessary. The other thing that seems difficult for them to understand is that all we really need/want is for them to remind us that they love us and they understand that we're doing the best we can.
Unhelpful responses often include blame, frustration, and the feeling of helplessness. Unfortunately, even though these things make our depression worse, we have to also understand that just as the depression isn't our fault, our loved one's responses are usually not their fault either. Usually, their responses are born out of a feeling of wanting to help, but feeling utterly helpless. They care, but they don't know how to "fix it" and so they do what they think will help.
I am a "depression magnet" as many of my female friends (and a few of my male friends) are depressed. My father asked me why this past weekend. I don't know for a fact, but I suspect that we who are depressed tend to flock toward one another. Misery loves company and all that, but it's probably more a matter of finding someone who understands. Who better to understand me than someone just like me?
If you find yourself to be a "depression magnet," whether you are depressed yourself or not, ask yourself how you are responding to your friends. All you really need to do for them is remind them that you love them and are here to listen. Know you will NOT be able to fix them or make things better, but telling them you want to is okay. They already know you can't, and they aren't really expecting you to. Just to love them. Listen when they need you to. And hold them while they cry.