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Friend in denial about depression, turning to Scientology

July 2006

I need advice about a friend who is seriously considering becoming a Scientologist. My concern is not with this in itself. But she clearly has issues with mental illness, namely depression. I know this because I also suffer from it and without going into detail, we met through this connection. She has a pattern of denying this and trying to find other ''remedies''. I am not suggesting that a healthy spiritual life cannot help her a great deal. But there is just a certain level in which you can just tell a person really needs therapy and possibly medication, especially when these other attempts at other solutions have repeatedly failed. We are relatively close, but not close enough that I feel I can just talk with her directly without her alienating her. My concern is with the churches incredibly naive view of psychiatry. Their assumption that those who suffer from real mental illnesses are not aware of all the risks is in my opinion, arrogant. While I am no fan of drug companies and understand that there are several uneducated patients using drugs, there are so many that do know. But there seems to be a very real lack of comprehension in the Church that many people will take these risks because the alternative is WORSE! They also have a very limited knowledge on the subject, too. They don't seem to appreciate the various combined steps that doctors and patients take together - it's not all about walking into a doctor's office, saying you feel sad and they prescribing a pill. I fear that the Church will steer her away from examining treatment she may really need. I know that there are irresponsible doctors out there. But a responsible doctor looks for multiple types of treatment to help a patient - and these doctors DO exist. My strong sense is that this is really what my friend may need. Does anyone have any advice on how I may approach my friend with my concerns without completely shutting her off? Thanks Anon


Ultimately your friend is going to do what she's going to do, but I hope she doesn't get involved with Scientology. It's cultish and will cost her in true friends and money and will probably not help with her depression. In fact, it could be deadly since she will be discouraged from getting any sort of scientifically-supported treatment. I don't know how you might approach her on the subject, but Wikipedia has a pretty impartial description of the ''religion'' that you could use to discuss it with her without sounding judgemental. If you could figure out a way to offer an alternative so she doesn't need to be pinned in by Scientology's odd and strict belief structure, that would probably help. Maybe you could invite her to a traditional church instead? Dunno. Good luck
I had this same problem with a friend who chose to treat her depression by taking classes at Landmark Forum (the new name for ''est''; it has lots in common with Scientology). You could try some of the things I tried: express your genuine concern about the depression and your belief that therapy is the most effective way to address it; offer to help find a good therapist that will be on her side; provide some concrete reasons why the ''alternative'' solution seems like a bad idea (i.e., Scientology is based on science fiction and uses a pyramid scheme; you could direct her to a reputable website about this. You can get a lot of info from Wikipedia, with links to critical sites at the bottom of the page.) You could talk to her family and friends and try to get them to talk to her too. But in the end, you can't make someone do the right thing for herself. I think Scientology and est are basically cults that can do real harm to vulnerable people. My friend ended up spending all her time and money in Landmark classes and her condition only got worse. She ended up alienating many of her most valuable resources (family and friends) because they couldn't share her new belief system and got sick of her constant attempts to recruit them. I think she is finding her own way, but I am sorry I wasn't able to help her. Just don't beat yourself up if your friend doesn't accept what you have to offer. I will be interested to see what others have to say anon
I am a Scientologist and I think that you should be completely honest with your friend. It sounds to me like you care a great deal for her and you only have the best intentions. You have very strong viewpoints about Scientology and Scientologists and, to preserve your friendship, I would tone those down. She may feel offended and might stop listening at that point.

On a personal note;I am very much opposed to taking drugs for mental illness. My convictions are not based on Scientology teachings, but purely on my own research and experience. I received a tremendous amount of information from the following Yahoo Group: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/SSRI- Crusaders/

In case you wonder; this group has absolutely nothing to do with Scientology. It's a group similar to BPN where people post their viewpoints and experiences. Many of the people have either been on antidepressants or have lost someone because of them. I have saved several posts, because they displayed such horrendous truth and pain. Feel free to e-mail me and I'll forward them to you. Or join the group and get the data yourself.

To me, Scientology is a holistic approach to mental health. And, as with holistic or homeopathic care; no drugs are involved. EVER! If it isn't for her, she can always turn to something else.


I think my friend is depressed - what should I do?

Sept 2002

I am increasingly worried about a friend. Since her second child was born nearly 2 years ago, she has been lethargic & getting more so. She has put on weight, lets her kids watch lots of TV, stays home a lot & in fact, has lost interest in just about everything except shopping. She seems on a mad drive to acquire stuff, mainly clothes & jewelry. She does a lot of internet browsing & shopping & also orders a lot from catalogs. I am not sure how much but there seems to be a constant supply of deliveries to her house. None of it seems to make her happy & in fact, some of it seems to stay in the boxes or unworn in her closet. Her husband - a lawyer - works really long hours & she is on her own a lot, especially during the week. She is also in charge of the finances which is a really bad idea. I guess they are doing well but she has made a few remarks recently that hint they may have debts & she is not telling her husband about them. I think she needs help, but I don't know what sort & for what. Does it sound like she is depressed? Her marraige seems fine & she is mostly cheerful but she does seem to have problems & sometimes it seems like she wants to talk but I don't know what to say & what to advise. Should I ask if she wants to get therapy? Debt counselling? Does anyone know of a therapist who works this problem. I don't want to approach her husband & am not sure what to do. Thanks. anonymous, please


It seems like your friend may very well be depressed. I would encourage her to go for an evaluation with a therapist or psychiatrist. I would also encourage her to discuss the situation with her husband. If she won't, then I would tell her that I would, especially if you think she or the kids may be at risk. There is a psychologist in Berkeley who specializes in ''money issues'' but I would first deal with the depression. He may be able to address that too. His name is Paul Minsky, Ph.D. 524-0700 good luck
Yes it does sound like your friend is depressed; any kind of compulsive behavior can be a sign of depression: drinking, eating, gambling, spending, etc., and these behaviors are usually a symptom of the depression and not the cause. And left untreated, postpartum depression can last for years. Having suffered from PPD myself, I would suggest you ''be there'' for your friend as much as you can, tell her that you are aware that she may be unhappy and you want to help her, without any pressure, and let her know that you're there to listen if she wants to talk. Women suffering from PPD usually crave contact with other people (adults, that is) and she might be very relieved if you were to bring it up first. You don't have to know what to say, just the fact that you're there for her if she needs to talk will probably be an enormous relief to her. Eventually you can talk about therapy but I'd bet that you taking that first step would make a huge difference to her. A good resource, for you and for her, is http://www.depressionafterdelivery.com/ Good luck Jill
Unless your friend is specifically asking you for help, none of this is any of your business. These issues are between your friend and her husband and if you want to remain her friend, I'd advise you to stay out of it. anon
The behaviors you describe sound like they come directly from Debtor's Anonymous literature listing the ''sign posts'' of a compulsive debtor. Compulsive spending and debting can be an addiction like alcohol or drugs. It sounds like this a close friend, and you would like to be able to help her. You could try sitting her down and telling her that you are concerned and why. For more information about compulsive debting and spending the web sites for Debtor's Anonymous are: National: www.debtorsanonymous.org Bay Area: www.ncdaweb.org anonymous
Your friend does sound depressed, despite the cheerful mood when you see her. Especially since you noticed the change right after having a baby. I don't know how close you are, but I would approach her, not her husband. Maybe you can honestly and gently tell her what you have noticed. Maybe she would be happy and relieved to know that someone noticed. Maybe she doesn't even realize how she is. She sounds like she may be lonely, overwhelmed with all the childcare, household running, etc...Sounds like her husband may be too busy supporting his family to even really notice. I could go on further, but won't here. Feel free to call me if you would like to talk more. I feel for her. She is lucky to have a friend like you. Lisa
Wow, what a charged situation. The hair practically stood up on my neck.

I'd agree your friend is depressed and is a shopaholic. BUT I can't see ANY way you can tell her without completely alienating her. You could talk to her husband, but I'd bet that would alienate her, too, eventually. I think your concern for your friend is laudable, but confronting her with the info is sure to end your friendship completely.

The only thing I can think of that would still save your friendship is to draw her out--invite her to come out of the house to do active things and gradually start conversations about her newly poor health and about the frantic shopping. Tough situation; I don't envy you. Good luck. Jennie


As someone who knows depression well, it does sound to me as though your friend is depressed, and she's VERY FORTUNATE to have a friend thinking about her well-being! Rather than tackling the problem straight-on, if you have the time and inclination, how about telling her that you'd like to start a walking (or some other active) regimine and you'd love to have some company. She needs to get out of the house and get her blood moving; this should raise her energy level and spirits. anon
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