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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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