Thinking of saying these things to your depressed friend, colleague or relative? Here's my advice: don't.
Do you know anyone who is depressed? It is pretty easy to say the wrong things in a (usually) well-meaning attempt at bolstering them or trying to encourage them. However, because you cannot really empathize with their situation – most people often think depressed people are being too histrionic – it is easy to say the worst possible things ever. Below are 10 most stupid things you can ever tell someone suffering from depression:
“You should go outside more!”
Of course, they should, since it is so easy for them. You probably think the reason they don’t want to go outside is because, mysteriously, the idea never crossed their mind but only crossed the enlightened pathways of yours. You should know one thing about depression – it makes you unable to explore the world like you usually would, and depressed people would only go out to restock their food supplies and withdraw back into their shells. It is not that they don’t know that what’s waiting for them outside is fresh air and shiny sun; it’s just that they cannot do it without suffering a breakdown.
“You need to do some more exercising”
It sounds like a great idea, but it really isn’t. True, everyone needs exercises – clinically depressed people and otherwise, but seeing as depression is more chemical than psychosomatic, it may sound a little condescending to tell a depressed person that the solution is in exercising.
“Think of all the things you can be grateful and happy for”
Funny, most depressed people can clearly pinpoint the best parts of their lives, and they also probably know the things they have to be happy about. However, the basis of being depressed is that they can no longer measure these things tangibly against their problems within their troubled minds, and telling them to do so, in spite of this, doesn’t achieve anything.
“Come on. You cannot be sad ALL THE TIME!”
Newsflash: Yes you can. It is called clinical depression.
“Do something that you enjoy”
It is possible – just like in the photo below:
“You shouldn’t take a pill before you can face life”
Do you know why it is called a clinical depression? It’s a medical illness. They need their pills to live with and battle their mental illness.
“There are people with far worse problems”
You know how hard it is to understand people’s problems? It is even harder for depressed people to do that. If anything, you will make the depressed person feel guilt and even worse about their problems and that is even pushing them farther from happiness.
“Why won’t you come hang with us tonight?”
It is because they cannot leave the house. Believe this – you don’t want them hanging with you either when they’re depressed – they can ruin your dinner with friends.
“It’s all in your head, friend.”
But of course – how Sherlock Holmes-ish of you to figure that out!
“Sometimes, I’m not sure I know you anymore”
Do not say this to a depressed person. Don’t. Please. Don’t. Depressed people are already experiencing a state of disconnection with the world, and they hardly know who they are, themselves. Hearing you say that to them confirms their fears and it can cause more damage for them.
You can tell them what you feel is wrong with them and even tell what their actions are doing to you, but never say you do not know who they are. They need to be assured that someone, at least, still does.