Best And Worst Things To Say To Someone With Depression
It can be tough to talk with a loved one who’s depressed. Here’s how to know what to say and what not to say.
Life is full of ups and downs, and it’s only natural to go through rough periods when you need some cheering up. But depression is more than feeling a little blue, and people struggling with depression need the right kind of loving support. That’s why it helps to know what to say and what not to say to a loved one who has depression.
In fact, a study published in Social Psychology Quarterly found that the attitudes of family members have the biggest impact on depressed people, either helping or hampering their recovery. “Depression is a medical illness,” said Eva Ritvo, MD, vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. “Harsh or judgmental comments will only make things worse.”
Do you know the best and worst things to say to someone who’s depressed?
What Can I Do To Help
Sometimes depression can take many different forms than just sadness. It can also make you freeze up, unable to do simple taskssometimes unable to get out of bed, or make breakfast, or clean the house. When you offer to help, really mean that youll help them with whatever the problem may be. They may not need a listening ear, but they may need someone to buy them milk at the store, or they may need someone to take their troublesome two-year-old to the park for a few hours. When you ask what you can do to help, make sure they know that you mean it.
Im Here If You Want To Talk
This is more of a direct suggestion, choosing something that you know the friend or loved one is going to be interested in doing. Maybe they just want to talk . Maybe they need a nudge to get up, get changed, and go out and just do something anything. You can be that person to help them get moving.
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Of The Most Helpful Things You Can Say To Someone With Depression
Depression has a way of being an all-consuming, monster of a battle. It takes a toll physically and emotionally. Its often stigmatized. But perhaps one of the biggest struggles for those who suffer is the feeling that no one else in the world can truly understand what theyre going through.
However, those feelings of isolation provide one of the biggest opportunities for loved ones to help, explains Gregory Dalack, M.D., chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
The key thing is to help the person know that you understand that theyre ill, he tells The Huffington Post. A lot of people view depression as some sort of character flaw. To let someone know that you understand that this is an illness that needs to be treated is important.
The fact is, depression isnt an easy fight but you dont have to suffer from it in order to be a source of comfort for those who do. If youre looking to support someone with depression but cant exactly figure out what to say, mental health experts offer the seven suggestions below and explain why these types of phrases matter.
Im here for you.
Youre not alone.Depression can feel like driving through a dark tunnel that youre navigating alone. Its important for loved ones to make it clear to those suffering that they dont have to journey through the disorder by themselves, says Adam Kaplin, M.D., an associate professor in the departments of psychiatry and neurology at Johns Hopkins.
Nothing at all.
Things You Can Say To Someone Suicidal Or Depressed
Depression and being suicidal are two mental health problems that are still surrounded by a lot of stigma and misconceptions. We all know, even without completely understanding, that depression or being suicidal is hard on the sufferer. However, we cannot deny that friends and family of the sufferer also have a hard time dealing with these problems. If you ever had a friend who was depressed or suicidal, you know that you sometimes have to walk on eggshells. You donât know the right thing to say or do and it can be stressful on your part. Now donât fret. I suffer from depression and being suicidal so I thought I would share some statements that we wouldnât mind hearing from our loved ones. Here are some things that you can say to someone who is depressed or suicidal without aggravating the situation.
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What To Say When Someone Is Depressed Or Anxious
You could start the conversation by asking questions such as: It seems like things have been hard for you lately. Whats on your mind? and: What can I do to help?
Something Ive learnt is to ask sincere, open-ended questions like, How does this feel? So the other person can feel supported, comforted and safe, rather than being told what to do. ayrc_1904
When you want to bring up a sensitive issue with a friend, try to choose a time and place when youre both comfortable, relaxed and theres some privacy. Dont push them if they dont want to talk, and be there for them if they become upset. You might not have an answer or a solution, but just being there to listen can be super helpful.
It might be difficult for your friend to accept your help continue to check in with them and let them know that you care about them, and that youre there for them if they need you.
You Can Move Forward In The Face Of Your Depression
Some people believe that having depression makes them weak or broken. The truth is that every day they get out of bed, go to work, or move forward while living with depression is proof of their ability to keep going.
Depression can feel like a weight on your chest. For some people, it can be a disability.
However, every day that someone keeps going while theyre living with depression is proof they can keep going.
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Id Like To Go With You
Depression can cause fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and difficulty concentrating.1 These symptoms interfere with routine aspects of daily life such as making doctors appointments picking up medications exercising or completing other aspects of treatment. Symptoms of depression can also make depressed people feel like a burden to their loved ones.
Communicating that you want to help by driving loved ones to appointments and assisting with other treatment goals lessens the feeling of being a burden and opens the door to communication.
What To Say When Someone Is Depressed
Finding the Words to Help
Knowing what to say to someone who is depressed isnt always easy. While you may feel awkward and unsure at first, know that whatever you say doesnt have to be profound or poetic. It should simply be something that comes from a place of compassion and acceptance.
Try not to be dissuaded by worry over saying the wrong thing. Research has shown that people tend to withdraw when they are depressed, so reaching out to a friend in need is an important first step. If your friend isnt ready to talk, continue to offer your support by spending time with them and try to talk regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text.
When you want to say more, but have a hard time expressing what you feel, try referencing the following statements someone who is depressed might find helpful to hear.
- Tell Them You Care
These two simple wordsI carecan mean so much to a person who may be feeling like the entire world is against them. A hug or a gentle touch of the hand can even get this message across. The important thing is to reach out and let the person know that they matter to you.
- Remind Them Youre There for Them
Depression can feel as though no one understands what you are feeling or even cares enough to try to understand, which can be isolating and overwhelming. When you reach out to a friend, letting them know that you are going to be there every step of the way can be very reassuring.
- Ask How You Can Help
- Urge Them to Talk With a Doctor
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What You Cant Say To Avoid Hurting Their Feelings
It is important to understand the person who is depressed and see things from their perspective.
If you say something, no matter how well-intentioned, that puts down the person who is depressed, they will also likely feel hurt.
The person may already be putting themselves down which means they may not need to hear what someone else says about them.
Its best to avoid saying anything about their situation and try to offer encouragement to lift them back up instead. It is important not to hurt their feelings so it is best to avoid saying these words.
Im Not Going To Abandon You
On top of shame, your loved one may fear loss of relationships due to struggling with depression. He or she may think youll someday feel overburdened and leave. Say often that youre in this for the long haul and that you will not abandon them in this time of need. Your friend needs you now more than ever, and it is up to you to reciprocate that.
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I Know Exactly What Youre Going Through
It is a bad idea to say this to a person who is depressed. They may feel as if you are minimizing their experience or that you have no idea what theyre going through because your circumstances were not the same.
It may be better to say things like I really hurt for you to avoid hurting the other persons feelings.
How Is Your Treatment Going
Treatment for depression can anywhere go on for weeks to months to years. Recovering from depression is directly related to how good treatment are you getting and how well you are responding to it. Ask your loved one about their treatment. Ask what the doctor says, how is the therapy or counseling going, and how effective is the treatment. Ask them if they have any concerns and queries. The question of whether the treatment is able to help them or not.
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How Do You Know If Your Friend Is Going Through A Tough Time
Sometimes its hard to know the difference between the regular ups and downs of life, and mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. Someone experiencing mental health concerns might feel ashamed, and worried about how their friends might react if they talk about it.
Not everyone experiences depression or anxiety in the same way, and symptoms can vary however, there are changes in the way a person going through a tough time acts that you can look out for. If your friend is experiencing depression, they might:
- seem down or tearful a lot of the time, or cranky more often
- stay up really late or sleep in a lot, or have problems with sleep
- miss a lot of school, work or their regular activities
- miss hangouts or often cancel at the last minute
- eat more or less than usual
- drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual
- talk about feeling empty, tired or worthless
- seem more pessimistic and hopeless, and like they have less energy in general.
If your friend is experiencing anxiety, they might:
- be obsessed with details, such as being a perfectionist or wanting to plan things out thoroughly
- have difficulty making decisions
- avoid new people, situations or unfamiliar places
- have trouble keeping to schedules or plans
- seem disinterested, forgetful, distracted or scattered
- have digestive issues
- have a need to reassurance about how you feel, whether plans make sense, triple checking times
- have difficulty sleeping
Learn more about what anxiety is and how to recognise the symptoms.
Continue Supporting Them And Respond To Emergencies
On a bad day, your friend might not want to leave their room. If they say something like Im going to cancel my appointment today, encourage them to follow through with the appointment.
Whether or not your friend has decided to get professional help, its important that they know they can get support from you, or other friends and family.
If you think your friend may be in danger or at risk of hurting themselves or someone else, seek help from a trusted adult or emergency mental health service immediately. Call 000 to reach emergency services and also tell someone you trust.
In more serious cases, its important to let an older/more responsible adult know whats going on. You dont have to be perfect all the time and making mistakes are inevitable and a good thing as we can learn from them. Anzelmo
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How To Help Someone With Depression
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Verywell / Bailey Mariner
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
If someone you love has depression, you may wonder how you can help. You may even experience a range of difficult feelings of your own, such as worry, disappointment, and anger.
Ways To Help A Friend With Depression Or Anxiety
If you want to be there for someone whos dealing with depression or anxiety, youre already being a great friend. It can be hard to know exactly how to help someone with depression or anxiety, and what to say to someone who’s having a rough time. Remember that each person is different, and while these tips are a guide, when helping a friend with depression or anxiety, its important to talk with your friend about what they feel they need.
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In The End Remember Your Goal
Westbrook reminds you of this very important note: “The goal is to get them back to being them,” she explains. “When they’re depressed, they’re no longer who they are they’re not doing the things they love, they’re not spending time with their loved ones. We want to remove the depression so they can get back to who they are.” Enter this conversation from a place of genuine love and compassion, educate yourself as much as possible, and be consistent with check in’s. Even if you’re met with resistance, they need you more than ever right now.
If You See Warning Signs
If you observe any of these warning signs in your loved one, encourage them to seek help from a mental health professional. If they refuse, be persistent. If they appear to be in immediate danger of hurting themselves, do not leave them alone, remove any possible means that they can use to hurt themselves, and get them to an emergency room as soon as possible.
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Encouraging Phrases To Say To A Person With Depression
Here are some phrases and ideas that might help you support a person you care about who has depression.
When youre using these, it can help to stay mindful of your context. Only say something if it feels like it makes sense in the situation, and always be genuine and keep an open mind.
Listen and be sensitive to the persons cues. If they dont seem receptive, consider trying at a different time or taking a different approach.
Depression Is Never An Easy Journey I Suffered From Depression For Around Five Years Three Of Which Were The Worst Years Of My Life During This Time I Felt Misunderstood Broken And More Than Anything I Felt As Though I Was Unloveable
Until you suffer yourself, its impossible to understand why depressed people act the way they do, and often my own battle with depression was met with a complete lack of understanding.
So, whether you have a friend or a loved one suffering from depression, Ive listed the most common things said to someone with depression, and whether theyre the right or wrong thing to say. I understand how hard it can be to watch your loved one suffer, yet when you understand how you should approach them best with your words, it can help you both.
You Are Bringing Me Down
This response is unacceptable. People, who usually suffer from depression, endure it in silence. Dont violate their trust. Depression is not a choice. A depressed person feels helpless. They dont have the means to help themselves, and they dont need the burden of these heavy words.What to say:I care about you.
Lastly, we remind you to be compassionate, motivating and thoughtful. Do not criticize something you dont understand. Depression is a biological illness, which affects an individual psychologically and socially. Although research hasnt yet proven the reasons why some people are naturally inclined to acquiring depression, we do know it needs to be studied and taken seriously.
Although this is not a complete list of things you should never say, it is a list of the most hurtful things you should not say. Please comment below and share your thoughts on other comforting and supportive words to help your loved one.