5 Things You Should Not Say To A Person With Depression

5 things you should not say to a person with Depression

Depression is a mental disorder that millions of people around the world currently suffer from. Therefore, it is extremely important that we do everything in our power to be able to accompany people living with this diagnosis in the most appropriate and respectful way possible.

Here, I will explain the most basic aspects to better understand what this psychopathology is. Likewise, we will delve into things we should not say to a person with depression even if they are said with the best intentions. Finally, we will also see some alternative comments that we can say to someone with depression.

What is depression?

It is very common to hear the term “depression” as a synonym for sadness. Many people report “being depressed” when, in reality, they are going through a difficult period, grieving, or feeling sad. It is important to understand that depression is a serious mental disorder and not trivialize or minimize it.

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Although it is true that one of the main symptoms of depression is feeling persistently sad, it is important to also take into account the rest of the criteria. There is also a loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable and a feeling of hopelessness. All of this occurs with such a high intensity that it interferes with the person’s daily life and lasts for a certain period of time.

The diagnosis must be carried out after an exhaustive study, with specific tests, by professionals specialized in mental health. This condition will require psychological support and, in some cases, may require support with psychiatric medication.

What not to say to a person with depression?

It is understandable that, if someone around us has received this diagnosis, we want to help them, but it is important to know how to do it. No matter how good our intentions are, we must keep in mind that certain comments can be hurtful and make the person feel invalidated and misunderstood.

Below we present 5 phrases that it would be preferable to avoid when we are talking to a person diagnosed with depression.

1. “Cheer up” or “don’t be sad”

We must keep in mind that the person is not choosing to feel such deep and persistent sadness. In fact, Most likely, no person would choose to feel something like that if they could avoid it. Therefore, these types of messages can be perceived as invalidating.

2. “You don’t seem sad” or “You don’t look like you have depression”

Unfortunately, this is one of the most typical phrases that people say based on their prejudices or preconceived ideas. Let us remember that no two people are the same and, therefore, no two depressions are the same. Each person lives with this disease as he or she can.

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3. “It’s all in your head” or “Do more of your part”

This comment can make the person with depression understand that they are this way by choice. Let’s keep in mind that we are talking about a mental disorder. That is to say, Recovery does not depend solely on the will that the person puts into it or the effort they make.

4. “It could be worse” or “There are people who have experienced worse things”

Each person has their own life story, with their experiences and learnings. Therefore, not all people have the same resources or face complex and painful situations in the same way. Furthermore, suffering and pain are subjective.

5. “You have to go out more” or “You have to do more sports”

It is true that doing moderate sports and surrounding ourselves with our support network can be highly beneficial. However, Depression also requires other interventions and these comments can make the person feel like they are not doing enough.

Alternative comments that we can make

It is important that we find the most appropriate way to communicate with that person with depression whom we want to accompany. Our messages should convey understanding, validation, compassion, and be free of judgment. Furthermore, it is interesting that we can do active listening.

Below, we propose some more sensitive and compassionate alternatives for this mental disorder and the people who suffer from it.

1. “I am here for you, to help you”

With this message we let the person know that we are available for him/her. We can offer our help, our support and remember that the person who is not alone. Sometimes all we need is for someone to be there, even if they don’t say anything.

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2. “Can I do something for you?”

By asking this question we help the person connect with their needs and validate them. Let’s not assume that we know better than they do what they need because not all people need the same thing.

3. “Would you like to share something?”

When asking this question, we give the person the opportunity to express their emotions, concerns or discomfort. It is important to be able to respect the times and needs of each person. Let’s practice active listening and free of judgment.

4. “This situation is not your fault”

No person chooses to have a mental disorder, it is important that we remind them of this. The origins of depression are multifactorial. Likewise, we need to validate what you are feeling, even if it is unpleasant or difficult to sustain.

5. “You are not a burden to me”

Many people feel that they are a burden on their environment and this increases the discomfort they feel. It is important that we let them know that we are not living it like this. Receiving love and affection from your surroundings can be very beneficial.