People who are depressed have a lot on their mind and with that a lot of questions they try to answer themselves: “What happened, what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I do anything right? Wouldn’t people be better off if I was dead?”
But to make things worse, they often feel isolated and misunderstood because of something silly a friend or family member said. Don’t let that be you. Here are some phrases never to say:
“There’s always someone out there worse off than you are.”
Depression has a way of singling out a person and putting it in their head that they are the ONLY ones experiencing it. That’s why many people who face depression want to be alone — it feeds off of loneliness. Your saying “You’re not alone in this” assures them that not only have others experienced depression, but made it through.
“No one ever said that life was fair.”
This comment treats depression as if the person suffering is choosing to be in a sad. Nobody chooses to be depressed — if we could, we’d choose not to be. “You are important to me” reminds them that even though they may not value themselves at this point, someone (you) still value them.
“It’s your own fault.”
Even if it was a course of action that led your friend to this point, playing the blame game neither helps nor changes the situation. Instead, help to identify the problem and set a course of action to rectify it. The phrase, “When all this is over, I’ll still be here and so will you” speaks volumes in that 1) things will work out; and 2) the situation isn’t dire enough to harm themselves or others.
“Let me know if I can do anything.”
Instead, ask, “Specifically, what can I do to help?” However, it’s important that if you really want to be there and help, you must do what you say you’re going to do. Your actions have to match your words — lack of action could easily feed your friend’s depression.
And here are some “runner-up” things you should never say:
- “Maybe you just need a change of scenery.”
- “You’re always feeling sorry for yourself.”
- “Why can’t you just be normal?”
- “Things aren’t that bad, are they?”
- “You don’t look depressed…”
- “You never think of anyone but yourself.”
- “You’re just looking for attention.”
- “Is it your time of month?”