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12 Phrases You Should Never Say To People With Depression (Unless You’re Cold-Hearted Enough To Hurt Them)

12 Phrases You Should Never Say To People With Depression (Unless You’re Cold-Hearted Enough To Hurt Them)

Living with depression is like living in an alternate universe that your brain isn’t equipped to handle. Supporting a friend while they are living with depression can be difficult and uncomfortable. Many people opt to not say anything—and when they do speak up they end up saying the wrong thing. It’s easy to spout out altruistic phrases to a friend with depression, but instead of helping you are actually hurting them.

If you can avoid these 12 phrases you will be in a much better place to support your friend when they need you the most.

1. “It could be worse!”

Attempting to compare your friend’s situation to someone who seems worse off is not a helpful strategy. Depression isn’t based on life circumstance. It’s brain chemistry. Someone could be living what you would consider to be the easiest, best life ever, but the surface impression of someone’s life is not an indication of their internal life/feelings. Comparing their life to others with more trying life circumstances will only make your friend feel worse.

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2. “You should count your blessings.”

What might be a helpful strategy for you will not be helpful for someone living under the weight of depression. Thinking of all of the good things in life will not lift the cloud of depression from your friend. It will only heap guilt on top of their already struggling demeanor.

3. “You’re just in a funk.”

Don’t belittle your friends struggle. By claiming that is it just a passing “funk” you are telling your friend that their feelings are not valid. Don’t dismiss feelings that you do not understand.

4. “Have you tried…”

Someone living with depression does not want to be feeling the pain that they are feeling. They have tried everything they know how to try. You suggestions only make your friend feel silly and frustrated. If you personally don’t live with depression, you will never know the depth of the pain and the helplessness that your friend feels. Suggestions from someone without depression only serve to patronize and not support.

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5. “I totally understand. I get depressed sometimes too…”

If you think you get “depressed” sometimes, then you do not understand what depression is. Feeling sad or upset is not the same thing as being clinically depressed. Trying to relate to your friend who is in a situation that you have never truly been in will not help your friend feel loved and supported.

6. “You should focus on exercising and healthy eating!”

You should not be making recommendations about about how to cope with a serious mental illness if you’re not a professional. Your friend does not need another “professional” opinion. They need a friend. Physical health is related to mental heath, but chemical imbalances in the brain causing depression cannot be cured by going on a jog and having a salad.

7. “But you don’t look depressed!”

Depression isn’t a style. It doesn’t necessarily affect the viewable surface of someone. People suffering from depression come in all ages, races, genders, occupations and orientations. You can’t assume you understand someones feelings by how they appear to feel. Even if your friends looks healthy and seemingly happy, you should listen to them talk about how they really feel and believe them.

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8. “You can beat this.”

Depression isn’t the same as other physical illnesses. You can “get over it” like a cold. Asserting that your friend could “beat” their depression assumes that they’re in control of it. Phrases that assume your friend has power over their mental illness also assumes that they are responsible for how they feel.

9. “Why don’t you just do more of what you enjoy?”

When someone is depressed the things that they would normally enjoy are no longer enjoyable. That is one of the most brutal parts of living with depression. The passions and interests your friend once had have lost their color. Simply crafting, or going for walks isn’t going to cure their mental illness.

10. “You should look on the bright side.”

Saying this implies that you do not understand the reality of depression. There is no bright side. Living with depression means your friend is struggling to find the bright side.

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11. “Don’t I make you happy?”

Your friends depression has nothing to do with you. Don’t assume they no longer like you or want to hang out with you because the chemistry of their brain has changed. You’ll only make your friend feel guilty and desperate by making their pain all about yourself.

12. “Happiness is a choice!”

Not when you’re depressed. Reducing your friends struggle to an easy choice to be or not to be happy is overly simplistic and offensive. They aren’t choosing to feel the way they do and they can’t just choose not to feel that way.

By avoiding these phrases and other similar phrases you will be in a better place to understand and support your friend living with depression. They need you to listen, love and support them without attempting to fix their problems.

Featured photo credit: Ryan Melaugh via flickr.com

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Emily Myrin

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Last Updated on December 2, 2019

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

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2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

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To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

“Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

6. Give for the Joy of Giving

When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

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So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

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Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

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Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

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