What not to say to someone who has depression – and what to say instead
Do you have a friend or family member who is suffering from depression? We know you want to help, but there are certain right and wrong ways to go about it.
Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.
Sadness is only a small part of depression, which has many other symptoms including physical ones.
This includes persistent empty mood, hopelessness, pessimism, loss of interest in activities, reduced energy, and fatigue, loss of appetite or weight changes, difficulty in concentration, restlessness and even suicidal thoughts.
However, there is one symptom which is often overlooked: feeling isolated and misunderstood because a friend or family member said it.
Depression is a real disease. It is like being in the middle of a desert. Here are things that, though well intentioned, tend to make things worse for depression sufferers.
I’m here for you
What to say: You’re not alone in this.
What NOT to say: There’s always someone worse off than you are.
What to say: You are important to me.
What NOT to say: No one ever said that life was fair.
Let me help
What to say: Do you want a hug?
What NOT to say: Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Depression is real
What to say: You are not going crazy.
What NOT to say: So you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?
There is hope
What to say: We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.
What NOT to say: Try not to be so depressed.
You can survive this
What to say: When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you.
What NOT to say: It’s your own fault.
I’ll do my best to understand
What to say: I can’t really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.
What NOT to say: Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.
You won’t drive me away
What to say: I’m not going to leave you or abandon you.
What NOT to say: I think your depression is a way of punishing us.
I care about you
What to say: I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.)
What NOT to say: Haven’t you grown tired of all this “me, me, me” stuff yet?
We’ll get through this together
What to say: I’m sorry that you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me.
What NOT to say: Have you tried chamomile tea?