Showing support and being there for people with depression can go a long way in ensuring their recovery. However, although you might have good intentions in ensuring that they feel better, some sentiments can only worsen the situation. If you wonder what to do to make your depressed loved one feel much better and understand that you care, you should know what not to say to a depressed person.
Do Not Tell Them to Cheer Up
This is one of the sentiments that you should never utter to someone with depression. If cheering up was that easy for them, they would choose to be happy rather than sad. When you tell someone with depression to cheer up, you might make the situation even worse than before. Remember, they might be wishing if only they could cheer up, and you coming up with sentiments such as “just smile, snap out of it, cheer up” is not helping.
Instead of overwhelming them with positivity, try:
- Asking if they want to share their feelings
- Spending time with them
- Telling them they matter
Do Not Tell Them You Know How They Feel
Though this statement may help assure your loved ones that you understand them, some people might think you are underestimating their pain. Remember, depression manifests differently in different people, hence causing different kinds of pain. Instead of you telling them you know how they feel, try listening to them so that you can understand their pain and know what to say.
What Not To Say to Someone with Depression – Count Your Blessings
Depression can cause feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and sadness. It can get to the point of being vocal, and sometimes you may hear a depressed person saying, “I am worthless.” Though you may want to step in and show them what they have achieved so far, intending to show them their worth, it might also sound invalidating what they are going through. Instead, assure them of their worth by showing love and care.
What Not To Say to Someone with Depression- Yours is Much Better
Imagine being sick with lots of pain, but instead of your loved one showing support and empathy, they try to assure you that your pain is much better than someone else’s. Can it make the situation any better? Comparison can not take away the pain—the same case with depressed people. You can not compare their situation with someone else’s. Rather than comparison, show them empathy and compassion.
What not to Tell a Depressed Person – It’s in Your Head
Telling a depressed person that the pain they are experiencing is in their head is adding salt to an open wound. If they have come out to you that they are depressed, you should take it as seriously as possible. Depression is a serious condition that can lead to suicidal thoughts. That being the case, you should help them seek help rather than invalidating their concerns.
Do Not Offer False Cheer
You could be having a great day, but that does not mean the day is great for everyone. Do not tell a depressed person how the day is good; it might be the worst day for them. Please don’t force them to be happy; by doing so, you are disregarding their feelings.
Instead, you can ask them, “How is your day?” or “Can we go for a walk by the beach?” If they say they prefer staying at home, then you can ask, “Can I keep you company?”
Do Not Blame Them
Depression can be due to factors that we cannot control. For example, you may not have control over genetics or environmental factors such as abuse. Blaming someone over the cause of their depression can only cause more agony to them. Avoid phrases such as, “If only you did this, you could not be here” or “ This is a result of you doing this.”
Instead of blaming them for their depression, assure them of your unconditional love and tell them that it’s not their fault that they are depressed.
What Not To Say to Someone with Depression – Get Over It
If curing depression is as easy as telling someone to get over it, no one could be depressed. Such sentiments show shallowness in knowledge about depression and can only make the victim feel misunderstood. Just as no one can choose to feel ill, so do people with depression. Depression is a medical condition that requires medical attention to feel better.
What Not To Say to Someone with Depression – Do Not Think About It
Depression is more of emotions than thoughts. It does not affect someone simply because they think about it. If someone reaches out to you about their depression, it’s because they need help and a shoulder to lean on, not someone to invalidate their feelings.
Do Not Tell Them What They Need to Do
Though isolating yourself can worsen your depression, for some people, it’s a way towards healing. Remember, everyone has their own way of dealing with depression. Avoid using “should” when dealing with depressed people. Though they might have reached out to you, it is not always to tell them what they should do.
In some cases, some depressed people come out in search of a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on, not a mouth to tell them what they should do. You can later talk them into seeking help after trust is built between the both of you.
You can never know the right words to say to a depressed person. What seems like caring for you might backfire on you. Instead of statements, try asking friendly questions such as:
- How may I help you in this difficult time?
- Can I keep you company?
- Would you mind joining me for a walk later in the day?
You can also show them that you care by saying, “I’m sorry you are hurting. I’m always here for you.” or “Thank you for opening up to me, I can now understand what you are going through.”
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