What Not to Say to a Depressed Person

05 Sep 2018

Depression doesn’t take your personal circumstances into account. It doesn’t care what car you drive, it doesn’t care about race or religion or where you were born. It doesn’t care about your upbringing or whether or not you are in a relationship. Depression indiscriminately picks people, regardless of what they have or have not been through.

The World Health Organisation estimates that over 350 million people worldwide suffer with Depression. That’s a whole lotta people being told to ‘cheer up’ 🙄

Even if you have the best of intentions, sometimes its hard to know what to say to a person with depression. Here are some rather questionable common phrases that get thrown around which we all need to stop saying forever:

1. “Snap out of it”

Contrary to popular belief, depression isn’t just about feeling sorry for yourself. It is in fact, a clinical condition which a causes a person to feel extremely low for extended periods of time – regardless of their circumstances. When it comes to depression, there is no quick fix – if only it was as simple as snapping out of it! Try instead: How can I help you?

2. “You’ve got nothing to be depressed about”

Clinical depression doesn’t pick and choose it’s victims. You could have the best life in the world but still suffer with depression. Try instead: I’m sorry you’re struggling, let me help.

3. “Aren’t you being a bit dramatic?”

There are psychological, physical and social symptoms of depression which permeate every aspect of a person’s life from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to sleep. But it doesn’t stop there, people with depression often have trouble sleeping too. This isn’t theatrics, this is life. Try Instead: I didn’t realise, you can talk to me now.

4. “It’s just in your head”

Well yeah, it is a mental disorder so depression lies within our brains but by saying ‘it’s just in your head’ you imply that it’s something trivial which can be controlled. Try Instead: Together we’ll get through this – I’ve got your back.

5. “Man up”

With Suicide being the biggest killer of men under 40, this is probably one of the most toxic things you can say to a guy – not cool. Try Instead: I know you’re strong enough to get through this.

6. “You don’t look sick”

Depression is an invisible illness. You can’t always see it from the outside but that doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Try Instead: Let’s hang out, when you feel ready.

7. “Maybe you just need to make some changes”

If only it was as easy as getting a new hairdo or redecorating. Try Instead: You are not alone, I’m here for you.

8. “You’re being a bit selfish”

Despite the severity of this disorder, too many people still don’t quite ‘get’ it. Depression is not a choice and there is no ‘on/off’ switch. Try Instead: I don’t like seeing you like this, I want to help.

9. “You’re being so ungrateful”

We’re are all affected by things differently. When depression hits, its difficult to see the silver lining – that doesn’t mean that gratitude and depression can’t coexist. Try Instead: Let’s focus on the positive together.

If you’re worried about a mate, have a read of this article or have a chat with a digital mentor on the Ditch the Label community to get advice on how to help.

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