• 6 Things You Should Never Say to a Depressed Person

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Jul 16th, 2018

Even though it’s estimated that about 15% of the adult population in the US experiences depression at some point in their lifetime (according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America), many people still trivialize this often devastating mental illness—albeit unintentionally.

In a lot of cases, loved ones of depressed people do not know how to deal with situations that come with the illness or are simply not educated enough about it, which is why they usually end up saying all the wrong things to the person battling depression.

This doesn’t mean that they have bad intentions—quite the opposite, really—but sometimes what you say can do more harm than good if you do not truly understand the nature of the illness in question. Platitudes can only leave the depressed person feeling like you are minimizing their suffering and don't understand that they are, in fact, doing the best they can given everything.

Always remember that a depression patient doesn’t need wise words of advice, but only your love and support. If you know someone struggling with this mental illness and want to improve your communication with them, then here are six things you should never say to a depressed person.

1. Don’t think like that. If someone with depression could actually change the way they’re thinking, then they wouldn’t be fighting depression in the first place. You need to understand that they really believe in their thoughts and that just by saying this won’t make a difference. This process of “not thinking like that” requires a lot of time and the right treatment.

2. Snap out of it/Pull yourself together. Again—if they could, they wouldn’t be ill to start with. Depression is a medical illness where the body simply does not produce enough of a certain substance to function properly. Seeing that we can’t make our bodies produce more of the said substance, a depressed person just isn’t able to “snap out of it”.

3. I understand. We tend to use this particular phrase in a lot of life situations, not just when it comes to certain illnesses. However, the fact remains that we cannot actually understand a depressed person (unless you suffered from depression in the past and can speak from your own experiences). A mild case of the blues can’t be compared to clinical depression, which is why it’s better to say “I don’t understand, but I would like to try”.

4. It can’t be that bad. People can go through a lot of bad things in their lifetime and never experience depression, just like they can lead a completely drama-free life and still have this illness. To a healthy mind, something that bothers a depression patient might seem insignificant, but to the patient this seems like an insurmountable obstacle, because they are unable to cope with stressful experiences.

5. It’s all in your head. Here’s a sentence that many depression patients hear all too often and feel incredibly alone because of it. No matter what, don’t just shrug off your loved one’s mental health issues—depression is a real illness and yes, while it may be occurring “in your head”, it’s not something they made up.

6. You need to try harder. Depression is the so-called “invisible” illness and because of that, people don’t tend to notice when someone is ill or if they do, that they are trying as hard as they can already. If a loved one with depression hears you say this particular sentence, it will definitely be both frustrating and insulting to them.

The point is this: if you’re unsure of what to say in these situations, it’s better to say nothing at all. Sit with your friend or family member, hug them, cry with them, show them that you’re there, and talk about getting help when the time is right. Leave the advice to medical experts and you try your best to just be there for your loved one.

If you know someone fighting depression or if you are struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Dr. Best and the Neuroscience Center, and arrange an appointment. Dr. Best has been successfully treating patients with depression using a combination of targeted brain stimulation and ketamine infusions.

 

Schedule a consultation:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

 

Author Caroline Ryther

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