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How To Talk To Someone With Depression: Things You Should Say And Things You Should NOT

Owen Wilson, Dolly Parton, Nicki Minaj, Ellen Degeneres, Miley Cyrus, Chester Bennington, Jim Carrey, Angelina Jolie, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, etc. What do you think these super famous people, who have all the luxuries in the world, have in common? They have all battled with depression at some point of time in their life. Some of them have won the battle while others have succumbed to it, but all of them have been outspoken about the crippling condition that is depression, reminding us that unless people know how to talk to someone with depression, it could become potentially fatal.

depressed woman_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License 

Depression is a condition where the person suffering from it feels an intense sense of dejection and loneliness and disillusionment towards life where they are unable to perceive positivity or imbibe any kind of optimism. This could lead to intense loneliness and alienation from friend, family and community. It can also cause suicidal tendencies, desolation, low-spiritedness and pessimism.

Suggested read: 9 ‘Facts’ About Depression That Are As Mythical As Unicorns & Werewolves!

Even though there is therapy and medication for depression, it is after all, a psychological problem, and people suffering from depression have to be communicated with very carefully. If you are close to someone who is suffering from depression, then chances are they will come to you to talk or ask advice from. You might be equipped to handle a situation like this, because people with depression have to be spoken with very carefully so that no negative thoughts are triggered by your words, even if you didn’t mean any harm. Know that is they are talking to you, or if they are seeking out your company, they are seeking some kind of solace from you, and you need to know how to offer it, without sounding patronizing or dismissive.

If you are trying to figure out how to talk to someone with depression, here are a few pointers that could help you deal with the situation, while simultaneously helping out the person suffering from the condition.

Things You SHOULD Say To Someone With Depression

Here are the things that you should say someone who has depression, to make them feel better:

1. “Tell me how you are feeling.”

friends talking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License

Asking someone with depression how they are feeling, genuinely, can genuinely make them feel like they have an outlet. When you ask them how they are feeling, you are extending an invitation to confide. It also gives them a platform to talk about their feelings and what is it that is bringing them down mentally. Even if they might not start talking immediately, you are showing them that you care enough to listen.

2. “You are not alone in this.”

One of the worst symptoms of depression is the feeling of loneliness, where the person feels like there is no one with them, that they are isolated and alone in their struggle, which causes alienation in their lives. Simply acknowledging that they are going through something and saying that you are there to help them through it is very helpful when talking to someone with depression.

3. “What can I do to help?”

The person who is suffering from depression might not know themselves what they need, or what you can do to help, but saying this to someone who is suffering shows that you care, and that you are willing to do something and dedicate your time and effort to help them through this period.

4. “You don’t have to be okay right now.”

 couple hugging_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License

Sometimes, people who suffer from depression feel even more alone and guilty because they feel obligated to be “cheerful” and “happy” to satisfy and console the people around them who are worried by their condition. This only makes their condition worse. Tell depressed people that they can take their time working through this, and it is important that they get better in their own pace, without feeling pressured by other people.

5. “You are important to me.”

Knowing they are important to someone can help with their isolation, loneliness, dejection and self-esteem to a great extent. However, you have to make sure that you mean what you say and show them that they are important with little gestures, so that they know they have someone to depend on.

6. “You are so strong.”

People suffering from depression have difficulty going about the most normal things in their day-to-day life. Even getting up from bed every day is a difficult task for them. Tell them that they are string for being able to go from day to day without succumbing to their depression.

7. “I am not going to abandon you.”

 couple holding hands_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

A fear of abandonment is something that depressed people feel all the time, which is why they alienate themselves further. Show them that you are there for them, and that through and after the ordeal, you are still going to be there for them.

8. “I really like (something) about you.”

Show your appreciation for them by reminding them of their talents and their qualities. Tell them that they are capable and have potential and that it is going to be realized at some point of time in the future, no matter how bleak it might look now.

9. “You make me happy.”

By making them a part of your happiness, you are showing them that they are included and loved and not alone; that there is someone in the world whose happiness is directly the result of their presence and they do have a reason to wake up every day and carry on with life.

Suggested read: Why an ‘okay’ day isn’t always what it seems for someone with depression

10. “This is not your fault.”


Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

Depressed people often have a guilty conscience, which makes them feel as though their actions are responsible for their mental state. Depression is often caused by a person’s circumstances, which has to be told to the person all the time. Knowing that they aren’t responsible for what they are feeling helps them overcome the odds.

Things You SHOULD NOT Say To Someone With Depression

The following things could make matters worse, which is why you should not say these things under any circumstances:

1. “Cheer up.”

2. “This is just a phase.”

3. “People have it much worse.”

4. “Why are you always depressed?”

5. “Even I was depressed once for a couple of days.”

depressed woman_New_Love_Times

Image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License

6. “There is no reason for you to be depressed.”

7. “Happiness is a choice.”

8. “It’s all in your head.”

9. “Stop being selfish.”

10. “Your problems are nothing compared to mine.”

11. “Stop whining.”

To be honest, the list goes on. You can be very insensitive while speaking to someone with depression without even realizing it. What you have to understand truly, is that it is not something that can control. No one wants to be depressed voluntarily, and jeopardize their lives and cause distress to the people around them. It is a highly debilitating condition, which renders the person stuck and unable to make any progress in their lives because their thoughts hold them back, which is where you come in, and offer your unconditional love and support.

When learning how to talk to someone with depression, here are some more pointers that you should keep in mind.

  • Be patient with them. Don’t be short-tempered when they aren’t speaking or laughing like they normally do or are extra quiet or needy.
  • Accompany them to places. If that is impractical, at least offer your company, even if they are going to the supermarket or to the park.

health benefits of walking_New_Love_Times

Image source: Pixabay, under Creative Commons License

  • Don’t start offering “practical” and “logical” solutions the moment they start confiding in you. They will immediately withdraw, because they aren’t looking for solutions- they are looking for someone who will listen to them.
  • Don’t get aggressive. Even raising your voice to say how unfair things are for them is going to scare them and make them feel like you are annoyed or getting impatient with them.
  • Show them that you genuinely care and that they are not a burden to you. Offer to be with them and talk to them and seek them out, so that they don’t have to come to you for help or even for a conversation when they want to. You might be willing to be there for them, but if they have to approach you every time, it will make them feel like you don’t want to be around them.
  • Do things and go to places that they like. If they are adept at cooking or dancing, or they like going to the movies or playing a certain kind of sports, engage them in things they are good at. Even small successes and achievements will ease their depression.

Suggested read: 5 Simple Truths And Tips About Dating Someone With Depression

Talking to someone with depression and behaving with them the right way is key. Once they are comfortable with you, and they start confiding in you, you can ask them to go talk to a professional, so that they get actual treatment, while you are there for them simultaneously. Unless depressed people are handled with utmost care, the situation could become potentially fatal, which is why knowing about it is as important for the people around them.

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License

Article Name
How To Talk To Someone With Depression: Dos and Don'ts
Here are the things you should and shouldn't say when learning how to talk to someone with depression, to help them feel better.
Aishani Laha

Aishani Laha

Bibliophile. Feminist. Unreasonable optimist. I am dangerously obsessed with the English language and the stage is my second home. I still believe in fairy tales and happy endings, and more importantly, that there is nothing that good music and a cup of coffee can’t fix.