In my last post before my break I talked about what you shouldn’t say to someone suffering from depression. I feel it’s only right to give examples of what you could say instead.
1. Dont say “Stop acting crazy”
⁃ Instead say “You seem to be really struggling. Does your doctor know how you’re feeling?
If you notice a person’s behavior becoming strange or erratic refer them to a healthcare professional. If they seem to be in danger of hurting themselves or others you should call 911 immediately.
2. Don’t say “It’s not that serious”.
⁃ Instead say “I care”
Even if their problems may not seem serious to you, the depression & anxiety is very real and very serious to them. Remember severe depression & anxiety doesn’t always have a reason and it can strike at any time. Just hearing someone remind you that they care can mean so much to then.
3. Don’t say “Things could be worse”.
⁃ Instead say “Things will get better, the depression is only temporary and it will pass”.
Remind them that it is only temporary and just like the episodes before they will get through it. Sometimes during an episode it may be different to see the light at the end of the tunnel – remind them that there is always hope. One of my favorite sayings is “Don’t make any permanent decisions based on temporary feelings”. This always reminds me that these feelings are temporary, but if I harm myself or worse my family and I will forever have to deal with the consequences.
4. Don’t say “We all go through things”.
⁃ Instead say “Its ok to feel the way you feel, depression is real”.
Sometimes while in a depressive state you begin to question your sanity and you may compare yourself to others and how they deal with life. You forget that sadness and depression is not the same as severe and clinical depression, you start to beat yourself up and begin to feel guilty. Having someone remind you and validate your feelings means a lot.
5. Don’t say “Let’s go self medicate”
⁃ Instead you can suggest that they speak with a healthcare professional in regards to medication or suggest to try another medication.
Self medication only makes things worse. Medication can also be tricky because it can take a lot of time to find the right medication and combination that works for you. Remind them that there are many options, so if their current medication isn’t giving good results try something else or even get a second opinion from another doctor. Just like with medication finding the right doctor for you may take some time. Not all doctor’s and therapist are the same. Just because one doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that none will.
6. Don’t say “But you always seem so happy.
⁃ Instead say “You can talk to me about anything”.
Don’t ever assume. Depression doesn’t always look like what you think. Remind them that they can let their guards down and have an honest conversation about how they really feel. Many times we are too ashamed or embarrassed to let anyone know that behind the fake smiles and jokes we are really struggling. Let them know that it’s ok to not be ok and that they can trust you and confide in you.
7. Don’t say “You need more faith”.
⁃ Instead say “I’m here for you/ I’m praying for you”.
Faith isn’t going to magically change the chemical imbalance that is most likely causing the depression. Just letting them know you care can mean so much. It’s fine to invite someone to your place of worship and encourage them to join your religious practices. It may assist with they’re recovery.
8. Don’t say “You don’t need to take your medication”.
⁃ Instead say “Have you tried other alternatives such as acupuncture etc.”
If you’re not a medical professional you shouldn’t be giving medical advice. I understand that some people don’t believe in medication and that’s fine. You can suggest other alternatives but please respect a persons decision to try medication that may help in their recovery.
9. Don’t say “You’re a downer etc./ You’re making me want to kill myself”.
⁃ Say “Your life matters to me/ you are important”.
For obvious reasons you don’t want to encourage suicidal thoughts and ideations. A person may really be at their wits end and you do not want to make them feel even worse and/or possibly push them over the edge. Remind them that they are important to you even if they don’t feel like they are. Show them that it is ok to express their true feelings to you; It’s ok to be down. Validate their feelings and experiences.
10. Don’t say “Therapy/Depression is for weak people”.
⁃ Instead say “You are not weak for having depression”.
Besides the fact that it isn’t true, it’s not a helpful thing to say. If a person is suffering you should encourage them to seek help. Remind them that they are not weak even though they may feel like it. Remind them that you understand that they are fighting a tough battle and those feelings from the depression are normal but doesn’t mean that they are weak. Build them up. Remind them that they are special and are important to you and this world.
Remember words really can help or hurt. Let’s be helpful.