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20 Sentences People with Depression Hate Hearing the Most

20 Sentences People with Depression Hate Hearing the Most

Why are people so unsympathetic when their friends or loved ones suffer from depression? The main reason is that depression is very difficult to fully understand. Another reason is that there is a stigma attached to being depressed. Even though we live in a society which seems to revolve around physical well-being and being upbeat, we don’t want to be reminded of the other side. We want to forget depression exists. A person with cancer is likely to get a lot more support than a person suffering from depression.

It’s even worse when friends and relatives give some advice which does not help at all. The sad fact is that these opinions reflect an appalling ignorance about this mental illness. No, depression was not invented for Big Pharma, like some sort of conspiracy. This illness affects 350 million people worldwide. It causes enormous suffering and is a contributory factor in death by suicide. The alarming fact is that less than 50% of patients will seek treatment, mainly because of ignorance and apathy.

Here are 20 pieces of advice which are pretty useless when you are trying to help a loved one suffering from depression. Do not use these phrases if you’re trying to be sympathetic. They may have the opposite effect than desired.

1. You should snap out of it

If you suffer from depression, I bet you envy how simple snapping out of it would be! This is not just a temporary blip on your sadness/happiness scale. It is debilitating, to the point where you cannot even get out of bed in the morning. You find it difficult to summon up enough energy. Motivation is beyond your capabilities.

If you note these symptoms in a friend, make sure that she or he gets diagnosed and treated. Especially if these feelings last more than two weeks. Symptoms will vary enormously. You may notice hopelessness, appetite and sleep problems. The important thing is to get a diagnosis.

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2. Other people are far worse off, you know

This is not going to help a person solve their problems! The depressed person just needs a person to be there and give support. You do not have to say anything if that embarrasses you. However, you can also tell the person that they can get better and that you will be there to support them.

3. Life is tough

This will probably reinforce how bad the depressed person is feeling, rather than help them. You could help them more by saying that you feel empathy for them and are willing to help them get through it. Treatment may take the form of medication and/or psychotherapy.

4. You have to get on with it

This sends the wrong message. It reinforces the sense of isolation that a depressed person feels. The best way to help them is by sending texts or just phoning them to let them know there is someone who cares. Susan Serani’s book, Living with Depression provides excellent examples of practical ways to help.

5. You are too introspective

The implication here is that depression really is a minor problem. You’ll come across as being judgemental and critical. The best way to show affection and love is to avoid statements like these which isolate the individual even more.

6. You are far too sensitive

This belittles the depressed person because they will think that their illness is being regarded as a character flaw and nothing else. A much better approach would be to take the person out for a walk. You can try and encourage them to get out and do something every day.

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7. Life goes on

“Living with depression is like living with a 40 ton weight on your chest — you want to get up and move, but you just feel like you can’t.” – from an anonymous individual suffering from depression.

Telling a depressed patient that life goes on anyway will appear like brushing the whole thing under the carpet. It will appear that you are not really concerned at all.

8. Just go out and enjoy yourself

Suggesting fun times does not help at all, unless you are prepared to accompany your depressed friend and encourage them to try to take baby steps every day. Lending support means being there, or at least phoning to remind them that they have to do “X” today and “Y” tomorrow.

9. Aches and pains are just normal

A strange thing about depression is how often the condition is diagnosed by patients experiencing physical aches and pains, rather than mood and motivation problems. Encourage them to get a diagnosis and offer your help.

10. You have got so many things to be grateful for

The depressed patient does not want to hear about gratitude. Their main worry is that the sheer exhaustion and loss of interest will become permanent. It is always a good idea to remind the suffering individual that treatment can be effective. Depression need not last forever.

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11. Cheer up

My uncle used to tell my depressed aunt to, “Cheer up”. The effect was just the opposite. It actually made her cry even more. His total misunderstanding of her condition was not helpful at all.

12. You’re strong, you will be fine

Yes, some people are strong and may have even coped with despondency or despair. If you are depressed, you may feel that your life means nothing to anyone else out there. Again, just listening can be reassuring for the person with depression.

13. You should stop feeling sorry for yourself

This suggests that the depressed person has a rather weak personality and is flawed in some way. A much more helpful response would be to actually sitting down and listening to the depressed person’s problems and feelings.

14. You should take vitamins for your stress

An offer of an over-the-counter cure will not help at all, as you are not really qualified. It is much better to urge the sufferer to get treatment and to offer to accompany them, or help them seek a specialist.

15. You should phone me

If you are a real friend, you should be the person who reaches out to the sufferer and show him or her that you really do care.

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16. You should buy nicer clothes

Your friend’s wardrobe may look a mess, but this will not cure their depression. Going on a shopping trip together would be a much better idea.

17. You know that everyone has problems

When you say this, the implication is that the depressed person has actually made a choice to be miserable and unhappy. Comparisons with the vast majority of the population are not at all helpful. It would be much better to say that you are trying to understand their problems. Encourage them to seek help and advice online.

18. You should try harder

Harsh and critical comments like this will not help one little bit. The attitude of family members and close friends are often crucial in whether a person will recover from depression.

19. You should be better by now

Impatience is a sign to the depressed person that nobody really understands what they are going through. A more compassionate approach without deadlines would be much more helpful.

20. You will have to learn to live with it

Learning to live with depression with no way out is like entering a dark tunnel. Pep talks, platitudes and the so-called encouraging remarks only make matters worse. It is much better to follow the steps I have outlined below if you really want to help.

What we can do to help depressed persons

  • Most experts agree that just being there and being supportive can be very helpful.
  • We can learn about depression, its causes and symptoms
  • We can encourage the depressed person to get diagnosed and treatment. We can help them with day-to-day tasks and objectives. We can also stop by and remind them of a task later that day. Or we can simply give them a call, and have a short chat while we’re at it.
  • We can encourage them to join online forums which cater to depressed persons. This is a great place to get support although it will never be as effective as a real live presence.
  • We should never give the impression that it is the patient’s fault or criticize them in any way.
  • We should encourage and supervise their daily routines such as regular eating, exercise and sleep.
  • We should be able to talk to them about suicide, should they mention it. The important thing is to go over the thoughts but suggest a different solution.

Let us know in the comments below how you have helped a depressed person on how to cope with their illness.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Novak via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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