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Why do depressed people push loved ones away?

373 Answers
Last Updated: 01/03/2022 at 2:52pm
Why do depressed people push loved ones away?
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Stacy Overton, PhD.


I am an enthusiastic life-long learner and also a professor of counseling. I have a passion for peoples stories and helping to guide and empower the human spirit.

Top Rated Answers
Anonymous - Expert in Depression
April 2nd, 2016 4:28pm
I so want to understand why my ex boyfriend has pushed me away....won't answer calls, makes excuses not to meet. I just want to speak with him.....he says he wants to change, but won't admit to depression completely. Says he's falling apart, living his life is scary. It feels like he doesn't care at all, but he says he does but needs time to get his life together. I think I have to give up soon. Its been 5 months, and I have heard every excuse and lie there is. He won't get help. I hate that he's struggling and suffering.
December 14th, 2014 7:29pm
Sometimes you don't have the energy to talk. Sometimes it all feels fake - doing anything 'happy' feels weird. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate. Sometimes depression manifests as irritability or anger. Sometimes depression comes hand-in-hand with anxiety. Sometimes the negative thoughts that are a part of depression make them feel unworthy of being around others, or doubt that others care about them or want to be with them, or make them feel like a burden to talk about their troubles or be around others. There are many many reasons and these are just a few. It's very individual. It may help to journal if you're thinking about yourself, or to talk to your friend - if they are willing to talk. Letting them know you're still around and still care can sometimes help.
Anonymous - Expert in Depression
June 26th, 2015 9:40pm
i think depressed people are afraid to get close to others. They are afraid to get hurt again or get left again
September 16th, 2015 12:29pm
I would just try to outline what I used to do. When the depression was really bad, I couldn't understand why anyone would care about me, and therefore I always thought they were just there for selfish reasons and tricked me. Also, during that period, I'd always dwell on why people left me an hurt me which made me withdraw from my friends believing that soon they will go too, and it is better to try and protect myself from being abandoned. I am constantly expecting rejection. Another reason was, any human interaction was exhausting. The burden of there being a possibility that my words could hurt them really stung bad and my coping mechanism was to distance myself.
September 24th, 2015 4:49am
One of the first questions that depression questionnaires ask is whether you've ceased to find happiness in activities and things that you once enjoyed. That includes people too. When someone is depressed, we don't see the value in these relationships as we normally would. As a result, pushing someone away allows the depressed person more space to be in their own thoughts. And as you might imagine, this can be part of a spiral downwards.
September 26th, 2015 11:41am
Because they want to see if there loved ones really care for them and want to see if they will return for them, Or leave them like the rest, They push them not because they hate them... They push them away so they don't get hurt and want to know if there loved ones really care for them.
November 25th, 2014 11:09pm
Sometimes it can be easy to push people out of our lives when we have depression because it is easier to live by the rules of our 'depressed selves' when we are alone. It is easier not to have to put effort into speaking, doing activities and workloads - though extremely unproductive and doing so will allow depression to thrive a lot more readily.
July 11th, 2015 6:05am
You feel so bad you just want time on your own to sort yourself out. Its like jumping down the rabbit hole and needing that darkness and quiet to just let the world go by in silence for awhile until you can start to see that small thread of light at the end of the tunnel. Its nothing personal against the loved one.
June 17th, 2015 5:05am
They are afraid that they might hurt or scare the people the love away if they were honest. Depressed people are afraid of letting people see them. They rather build walls and cover their sorrow and pains, when it should be the reverse.
August 13th, 2015 6:08pm
Sometimes depressed people feel like they're burdening their loved ones with their problems, and they push them away to try to minimize their perceived damages. And sometimes depression can cause people to feel irritated and lash out, and want to stay away from their loved ones. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't want support, it just means they're not sure how to ask for it. Try to give them enough space that they don't feel smothered, but don't let them completely isolate themselves.
January 6th, 2016 2:32am
This is not a conscious choice, and we need to remember that depression can be just as hard to deal with when you are a loved one trying to support somebody as it can be to deal with depression. Those who suffer depression can lose the forest for the trees, as it were, and they have so much to worry about that it can be easy to not realise how strained relationships can get. Loved ones, in turn, don't always realise just how depression can manifest itself and what behaviour it can lead to, and especially if they have never had depression themselves, there can be a frustrating lack of understanding between both parties. No person who is depressed actively tries to push people away with a conscious intention to be vindictive or cruel, but often the stress of trying to manage relationships and deal with frequent misunderstandings by both parties can result in them trying to shut themselves away, rather than push other people out.
January 9th, 2016 10:34pm
This is pretty standard for a person with depression. Try to imagine it this way. You feel horrible. There's a weight the size of a black hole pressing on your shoulders and another one residing in your gut. But people are trying to be nice, and this does not correlate with your feeling about yourself. The answer? Push them away. Make them go. Make the external world fit with your internal sense of self. Why not accept the love that is offered? Why not push away the darkness and depression? Because the darkness and depression are lodged permanently inside of you...Still, deep beneath the depression, there is still a tiny spark of a human who values his or herself. Sometimes that that shred of their souls manages to push out and raise its voice a bit. At moments like these, the depressed person can remember what it is like to not hate yourself, and it can be possible to accept love for a few moments. When friends, family and lovers support a depressed person, it does make a difference, even if the depressed person fights it. It's almost like a test to see whether you really care enough to care for us, despite our horribleness...It's not easy being depressed or being there for then the way they need you to be,but if you can find it in your heart to hold your ground,you'll make a commendable difference.
November 28th, 2015 3:05am
Look at depression as a plague of the mind/body. It needs the body and mind to be alone for it to take full control of you. Having close relationships deters it from accomplishing it's goal of the disease, self destruction. So, depression cuts ties with your loved ones because it needs you to be alone and weak. It's not the person purposely doing it, it's the disease telling them they need to by making them paranoid or angry. That's just how it makes sense to me.
September 17th, 2015 3:23am
Depression is truly a struggle, filled with moments of self-doubt, hopelessness, and cynicism. Depressed patients sometimes don't want to spill over their emotions onto the people they care about. Other times, they're embarrassed about what they're going through, which makes them feel isolated.
September 26th, 2015 10:02pm
Perhaps they're afraid to hurt or be hurt. They just feel like being alone all the time, cause it's easier that way. They won't get attached to people. And also, there is no chance they'll be betrayed (again).
November 5th, 2015 7:37pm
Because depressed people are so appalled/ down and well "depressed" by their own situation and how they're feeling that they 1. don't think they deserve to be close with anybody else, and 2. that they don't feel capable (at the moment) of handling a close relationship with another person. Hence, the keep pushing everyone away (even if those people want to help you get better). This is from personal experience.
December 3rd, 2014 4:49am
People with depression often push loved ones away because they find it hard to love themselves. Learn to love yourself again and you will find it easier to love another.
July 17th, 2015 7:41am
A side effect of depression is isolation, or the want of being alone. So sometimes, when we're sad, we think that we should be alone, so we push others away. An obstacle of depression is learning how to let people back in.
October 29th, 2015 2:00pm
I think it's because they like to try and test if people really do care about them, if anyone would stay and comfort them despite being pushed away. Because no feeling is more pleasurable than knowing that someone cares and love you.
September 19th, 2015 2:58pm
Often depressed people push loved ones away because they lose a little bit of themselves in the battle they are fighting with depression. It can be hard to force a smile and often it can be easier to be "alone" when you are depressed. People sometimes develop an attitude of "nobody cares" or "I don't want to bother them" and so isolate themselves from others.
Anonymous - Expert in Depression
July 12th, 2015 11:17pm
It is different for different people - some feel that they are burdening others and push them away because they don't want to bother them, some may feel that they are hurting others and push them away because they don't want loved ones to suffer too, and others may feel that they aren't loved, that no one actually cares and feels that loved ones are just pretending so they push them away. There are millions of other reasons but these are just a few main ones.
December 16th, 2015 7:14am
You make wrong decisions when you're depressed, lonely, sad, or angry. We can't help that, because everytime we're depressed, it feels like everything starts to fall apart. So, you just make decisions without even thinking about it.
October 23rd, 2015 2:10pm
Depressed people push loved ones away because they want to be left alone. But at the same time they don't. When I was deeply depressed, I pushed my family and friends away because I wanted to sulk and hurt alone. I didn't want help.
December 19th, 2015 8:23pm
When people feel depressed it is possible that they feel no emotional connect to their loved ones and do not experience pleasure during interactions with them (anhedonia). Sometimes when struggling with suicidal thoughts people may feel too afraid to tell others and push them away for this reason. It is also quite possible that those who are experiencing depression feel that they are a burden and feel guilt at dragging others into their misery. Sometimes people may isolate themselves as the effort of everyday living, dressing, looking presentable and maintaining a clean living environment becomes too much and they can feel great shame at not conforming to behavioural norms despite the fact that you will love them no matter what.
April 9th, 2015 1:31am
When someone is depressed they feel as if no one cares, so they figure they aren't cared about and push others away.
December 18th, 2015 12:33am
Often times they believe that they don't deserve the love that their loved ones offer, but in reality, their love is probably what will help them out the most. Embracing your friends and family and keeping people close will be an enormous comfort to them. If someone pushes you away because of depression, please do not take it personally. They are going through a hard time, and it is best to offer sympathy and reassurance to them.
May 9th, 2018 9:10am
Depressed people often push away the loved ones away as they think that they may, in some ways, hurt them unintentionally. So rather than hurting them unintentionally, the depressed ones push them away so like they are protecting them from any hurts. This is understandable when the depressed ones push their loved ones away as they will feel better when they know that their loved ones will not get hurt.
June 30th, 2015 2:31pm
Because the believe that their loved ones do not understand their situations therefore cannot help them.
October 24th, 2015 1:58am
simple. they don't want to get hurt by anyone. if they push you away then they don't have to lose someone else.
September 17th, 2015 4:55pm
Usually people with depression push their loved ones away because they want to be alone. They isolate and just keep themselves. Sometimes it's from not trusting themselves or others, or being afraid they'll break down in front of them, especailly if the loved one knows nothing about their depression