10 Things Not to Say to Someone With Depression
More than 14 million Americans suffer from clinical depression, but much about it is still misunderstood. People often assume that a comment that might make them feel better on a bad day will do the same for someone who’s depressed. That’s just not the case. Clinical depression is more than the blues. Here’s a sampling of what not to say.
Easier said than done. If a job is feeding depression, chances are that feeling stuck at that job is a bigger problem. There are many reasons why a person may feel they can’t leave a job they don’t like—the need to support a family, income, benefits, lack of other opportunities. A better choice of words would be, “How could your job improve? Or “What would make going to work more bearable?”
This one can sound especially callous. We often don’t realize when we are simply regurgitating pat phrases when we’re attempting to relate to someone. Positive thinking may help when you’re simply feeling grumpy or if there’s a tendency to think of things in negative terms, but this kind of advice can’t make clinical depression take flight.
This one is often said in frustration following a failed attempt to comfort someone. But it’s likely to only fuel the depression and diminish a person’s trust. If it was that easy to think positively, they would. The old saying holds true: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
If a friend is constantly complaining about a relationship, this could seem like a fair question, especially since a negative relationship can put significant strain on a person’s mental health. However, depression could be the reason a person is having relationship problems. Overall, this is such a personal matter that it’s better left to your friend to bring up.
As if someone who’s depressed needs reminding. What would be more helpful is focusing on how to ease life’s troubles. Think compassion and empathy, not bromides.