However, before I begin, I feel like I need to confess something. The reason why I feel an urge to discuss this topic is because I have a personal stake in the matter. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with a depressive disorder. It's something I deal with on a day by day basis.
Like most people, I play tabletop games because I personally enjoy them. However, I also play them because they give me a chance to leave the problems that bother me in everyday life. I know that sounds stereotypical, but it's true.
Unfortunately, I occasionally can't achieve that when I sit down at the table. When I happen to be in a really bad depressive state, I can't enjoy the things I usually love. I try my hardest to force myself to have a good time, but it never works. I know I'm not alone in this regard, so I want to give people who might be feeling this right now some advice about the topic and for those who care about said person ways for you to help them in their time of need.
While the advice I'm going to give you might seem hard to accept, it really is probably the best thing you can do for yourself when you're in a depressive state. Don't force yourself to play if you don't feel up to it. Don't be afraid to take a step back from the table and take a short hiatus from gaming all together. That might sound like heresy, but honestly your mental health is more important than the game and should be your first priority. Return to the gaming table only when you personally feel up to it.
Now, you might not personally be suffering from depression, but you might have a friend who is. You've noticed a change in attitude and they just see to be a little different at the table, like they aren't having as much fun, even though they're smiling and laughing. You want to help, but you don't know how.
Honestly, the best thing you can do for your friend is to listen to them and be understanding of their situation. Allow them to express themselves to you, talk about how they're feeling, and don't judge them for it. Understand they're having a hard time and make it clear that you're there to give them a shoulder to lean on and will support them no matter what.
Also, be patient with them. Don't try to force them to feel better because that will most likely backfire. Just stand beside them and help them along their own path, letting them move at their own pace and speed.
I hope this advice helps someone who's experiencing this at the moment or knows someone who might be. Depression is a serious issue and is misunderstood by so many people. Sometimes, we all need a little help.