Thisngs you should and shouldn't say to depressed person.

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by Viktor, Jul 23, 2014.

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  1. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member

    6 Things to Say to Someone with Depression or Who's Depressed​

    Lots of people experience depression, while others just have bad days or just are feeling down on themselves. No matter why they’re depressed, sad, or unmotivated to do much of anything, one thing is certain — it’s a tough feeling to experience. Depression is isolating — like you’re all alone in it, and that it will never end.

    As a friend or partner of someone who’s experiencing that depression or feeling blue, what can you do to help? After all, there’s a lot of advice telling you what not to say to a depressed person and things that most people don’t want to hear when they’re feeling down.

    We crowd-sourced the following list by querying our Facebook friends about what they’d like to hear when they’re feeling down, blue, or depressed. Here are a few of their very, very good suggestions.

    1. You’re right, this sucks.

    The generalization is that men are problem solvers, and women are listeners. People who are depressed don’t want problem solvers — they’ve usually run through all the scenarios and solutions in their head already. They just can’t do it.

    What they’re looking for instead is simple acknowledgement and empathy.

    2. You don’t walk this path alone. I’m here if you need me.

    When a person is depressed, one of the feelings many people experience is an overwhelming sense of loneliness — that no one can understand what they’re going through. They are all alone.

    A reminder from a friend or loved one that, indeed, they’re not alone and they are loved can be invaluable. It also reminds them of the reality — that people in their life do love them and are there for them if they need them.

    3. I believe in you… You’re awesome!

    Sometimes a person has given up hope that they’ll amount to anything in life. They’ve lost all belief in themselves, and feel like nothing they do is right or good enough. Their self-esteem is, in a word, shot.

    That’s why it can be helpful to reaffirm that you believe in them. You believe in their ability to once again experience hope, to be the person you once were — or even more. That they are still an awesome person, if even if they’re not feeling that way at the moment.

    Two guys talking about being depressed

    4. How can I help? What can I do for you?

    One part of the way many people experience depression is that they have little motivation to do things that need to get done. Offer your support and direct assistance in getting something done for them. It might be picking up a prescription, a few groceries from the store, or simply getting the mail. Offer this help only if you’re willing to do what is asked of you.
    5. I’m here if you want to talk (walk, go shopping, get a bit to eat, etc.).

    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 (and need you to simply listen). 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.

    6. I know it’s hard to see this right now, but it’s only temporary… Things will change. You won’t feel this way forever. Look to that day.

    When a person’s depressed, sometimes they lose all perspective. Depression can feel like an endless black hole in which there’s no way to climb out of. Saying something along these lines reminds them that all of our emotions and moods are not permanent, even if they feel like they are.


    Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed​

    Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear.

    While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer.

    Platitudes don’t cure depression.

    Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d. (

    0. “What’s *your* problem?”

    1. “Will you stop that constant whining? What makes you think that anyone cares?”

    2. “Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?”

    3. “You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.”

    4. “But it’s all in your mind.”

    5. “I thought you were stronger than that.”

    6. “No one ever said life was fair.”

    7. “As you get stronger you won’t have to wallow in it as much.”

    8. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

    9. “Do you feel better now?”(Usually said following a five minute conversation in which the speaker has asked me “what’s wrong?” and “would you like to talk about it?” with the best of intentions, but absolutely no under-standing of depression as anything but an irrational sadness.)

    10. “Why don’t you just grow up?”

    11. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

    12. “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”

    13. “You have it so good, why aren’t you happy?”

    14. “It’s a beautiful day!”

    15. “You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed!”

    16. “What do you have to be depressed about”.

    17. “Happiness is a choice”

    18. “You think *you’ve* got problems…”

    19. “Well at least it’s not that bad.”

    20. “Maybe you should take vitamins for your stress.”

    21. “There is always somebody worse off than you are.”

    22. “Lighten up!”

    23. “You should get off all those pills.”

    24. “You are what you think.”

    25. “Cheer up!”

    26. “You’re always feeling sorry for yourself.”

    27. “Why can’t you just be normal?”

    28. “Things aren’t *that* bad, are they?”

    29. “Have you been praying/reading the Bible?”

    30. “You need to get out more.”

    31. “We have to get together some time.” [Yeah, right!]

    32. “Get a grip!”

    33. “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

    34. “Take a hot bath. That’s what I always do when I’m upset.”

    35. “Well, everyone gets depressed sometimes!”

    36. “Get a job!”

    37. “Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.”

    38. “You don’t *look* depressed!”

    39. “You’re so selfish!”

    40. “You never think of anyone but yourself.”

    41. “You’re just looking for attention.”

    42. “Have you got PMS?”

    43. “You’ll be a better person because of it!”

    44. “Everybody has a bad day now and then.”

    45. “You should buy nicer clothes to wear.”

    46. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

    47. “Why don’t you smile more?”

    48. “A person your age should be having the time of your life.”

    49. “The only one you’re hurting is yourself.”

    50. “You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it.”

    51. “This is a place of BUSINESS, not a HOSPITAL”; after confiding to supervisor about my depression

    52. “Depression is a symptom of your sin against God.”

    53. “You brought it on yourself”

    54. “You can make the choice for depression and its effects, or against depression, it’s all in YOUR hands.”

    55. “Get off your rear and do something.” -or- “Just do it!”

    56. “Why should I care?”

    57. “Snap out of it, will you?”

    58. “You *want* to feel this way.”

    59. “You have no reason to feel this way.”

    60. “Its your own fault.”

    61. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

    62. “You’re always worried about *your* problems.”

    63. “Your problems aren’t that big.”

    64. “What are you worried about? You should be fine.”

    65. “Just don’t think about it.”

    66. “Go Away.”

    67. “You don’t have the ability to do it.”

    68. “Just wait a few weeks, it’ll be over soon.”

    69. “Go out and have some fun!”

    70. “You’re making me depressed as well…”

    71. “I just want to help you.”

    72. “The world out there is not that bad…”

    73. “Just try a little harder!”

    74. “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.”

    75. “You need a boy/girl-friend.”

    76. “You need a hobby.”

    77. “Just pull yourself together”

    78. “You’d feel better if you went to church”

    79. “I think your depression is a way of punishing us.” —My mother

    80. “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

    81. “So, you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?”

    82. “What you need is some real tragedy in your life to give you perspective.”

    83. “You’re a writer, aren’t you? Just think of all the good material you’re getting out of this.”

    84. This one is best executed with an evangelical-style handshake, i.e. one of my hands is imprisoned by two belonging to a beefy person who thinks he has a lot more charisma than I do: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” This has actually happened to me. Bitten-back response: “Who are ‘our’? And don’t do me any favors, schmuck.”

    85. “Have you tried camomile tea?”

    86. “So, you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?”

    87. “You will be ok, just hang in there, it will pass.” “This too shall pass.” – Ann Landers

    88. “Oh, perk up!”

    89. “Try not being so depressed.”

    90. “Quit whining. Go out and help people and you won’t have time to brood…”

    91. “Go out and get some fresh air… that always makes me feel better.”

    92. “You have to take up your bed and carry on.”

    93. “Why don’t you give up going to these quacks (ie doctors) and throw out those pills, then you’ll feel better.”

    94. “Well, we all have our cross to bear.”

    95. “You should join band or chorus or something. That way you won’t be thinking about yourself so much.”

    96. “You change your mind.”

    97. “You’re useless.”

    98. “Nobody is responsible for your depression.”

    99. “You don’t like feeling that way? So, change it.”


    I can confirm it's so true. It's funny how people play smart and think how vise they are when they are teaching you about how you should pull yourself together, because in fact they don't know what they are talking about. And even more sad thing is when these people don't wanna learn themselves. Means, you are explaining them many times that this and that will never help you , yet they persist with their stupid teaching. This is not about that they just don't understand the depression anymore. Such people are purposefully trying to be smarter than you, no matter what. The result is that it will only hurt you more or you can do even the worst possible thing. Then these people are surprised. They deserves to be slapped in their face until their head starts actually working.
    In other words, welcome to my family.
  2. Kati

    Kati New Member

    Great list, thank you for sharing!
  3. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Member Safety & Support SF Supporter

    Great post. The 'grow up' thing drives me nuts! You can't just wake up and say right, I'm going to be ''normal'' today, world doesn't work that way unfortunately.
  4. allvr00

    allvr00 Member

    My son (26 y.o.) says 'knock that #$!$# off' when I'm moody and depressed.....and makes me laugh. He's the only one that can get away with it though because I know he'll be there for me through thick/thin. He doesn't understand my depressions but he loves me unconditionally through it. He's one of the reasons I hang on.
  5. DrownedFishOnFire

    DrownedFishOnFire Seeing is Believing Forum Pro SF Supporter

    Sometimes what people say is the plain truth. We just dont want to hear it It will hurt sometimes.

    Ive been told recently by someone to get up and deal with life being unfair. Grrr.
  6. Klute

    Klute Member

    Virtually every one of my friends are giving me variations on these lines at the moment. I'm so utterly on the floor that, every time one of them says something like this to me, it feels as though they kicked me to the ground again. I have no idea how I make them stop so I am beginning to avoid even the few friends I have left.
  7. lost_in_a_fairytale

    lost_in_a_fairytale Well-Known Member

    so true. I've had a few of those lines thrown at me, and it drives me bonkers. People can be so insensitive and thoughtless. Really puts you off opening up to people, you just worry they'll make you feel worse by belittling how you feel.
  8. Viktor

    Viktor Well-Known Member

    My family is telling me such things all the time. And my family is all i have. I don't have many friends. And those i have are unable to help me. They always say something like "i can't help you with that" which is true on the other hand. Still better than to say one of those lines. Even though it's also bad to hear. Friends can be supportive just by being there for you and by trying to listen. So the only support left which i can get is from my family and since my family says one of those lines all the time (like for example my father today) which puts me even more down, i don't have any support.
  9. lost_in_a_fairytale

    lost_in_a_fairytale Well-Known Member

    I feel like I don't have much support either. My mum's the only one in the family who knows about my depressive episodes and last year I actually opened up to her about it more and tried to explain how it feels but she didn't understand it all and made me feel worse at points, saying a few of those things in the list. I have a few people my age who know, but I'm not really friends with them anymore and the only current friend I have who knows can make me feel worse too, sometimes saying insensitive or hypocritical things or just belittling my feelings or dismissing them. It hurts. I wouldn't open up to anyone else in the family as I've heard their general views on depression (things along the lines of "those people are cowards", "they just have too much spare time, you wouldnt have time to be depressed if you were from an older generation", "young people have it so easy they're just need to toughen up", etc), so I'm sure they'd react badly to me or misunderstand...either way would make me feel worse so I keep quiet. I'm not too bad at the moment, but I do worry that when I have another episode it'll be harder to deal with with lack of understanding from others. Feeling alone makes it a lot worse :/
  10. lost_in_a_fairytale

    lost_in_a_fairytale Well-Known Member

    oh, and even professionals can be insensitive too.....I was shocked when I went to a councilor last year and after asking me if I ever considered harming myself (I already felt judged and uncomfortable with her so I lied I pretended I hadn't for a few years) she replied "well young people are dramatic". .....what sort of response is that?! You'd make someone feel even worse saying things like that, I'd expect better from someone who's being paid to support you.
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