10 Things We Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who is Feeling Depressed

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By Emma

Society is becoming increasingly aware of and open-minded toward the subject of mental illness. But unfortunately, many people are still misinformed about depression and how to best support someone struggling with a mental illness. If you’re worried you may say the wrong thing, we’ve got your back. Here are 20 things you should never say to someone who is depressed.

“You Just Need to Be More Positive”

As pointed out by Medical News Today, people do not choose to be depressed, and depression is commonly caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Therefore, telling a depressed person that they simply need to adopt a more positive attitude is unhelpful and likely to make them feel like you are blaming them for something they cannot control.

“You Have Everything Going for You”

Depression can affect anyone, no matter how much material success they seem to have. This comment can cause people to feel confused, ashamed, or guilty about feeling depressed when they “should” feel content with their lives.

“Depression Is All in Your Head”

Depression does involve mental factors and can stem from a chemical imbalance in the brain. However, telling someone that depression is all in their head makes light of a very serious mental illness that can be very challenging to treat. It also implies that they can easily choose to stop feeling depressed, which is simply not true.

“Just Snap Out of It”

As we stated before, depression is not a choice or something that can be easily overcome. So telling someone to “just snap out of it” will only make the person feel invalidated, misunderstood, and isolated. It could also dissuade them from turning to others for support in the future.

“Others Have It Worse Than You”

This is another invalidating comment that implies someone cannot feel depressed if other people seem to have more to be depressed about. Anyone can struggle with depression, regardless of their external circumstances. Telling someone that others have it worse may also make them feel guilty about or ashamed of their depression.

“We All Go Through Times Like These”

We all experience a wide range of negative emotions, but not everyone experiences depression. While this comment can be well-intended, it is likely to feel like a minimization of the depressed person’s experience. It may also make them feel more misunderstood and alone.

“You Should Try Exercising More”

The NHS claims that regular exercise can improve symptoms of depression in some cases. However, this does not mean you should tell a depressed person to exercise more. This is likely to seem like an oversimplification and misunderstanding of their struggle, which often involves many different mental, physiological, and psychological factors.

“I Know Exactly How You Feel”

Even if you have struggled with depression yourself, you don’t know exactly how another depressed person feels. It’s okay to tell someone if you can relate to their experience, but depression can vary significantly from person to person, so it’s important to acknowledge the uniqueness of their experience.

“Have You Tried Praying About It?”

Religious individuals may be tempted to make this well-meaning suggestion. However, this comment can actually be harmful to both religious and non-religious people struggling with depression. Those who are not religious may feel disrespected and misunderstood, while religious people may feel like they are to blame for their mental illness persisting.

“You’re Just Looking for Attention”

Depression is a very real and serious mental illness. By telling someone that they’re just looking for attention, you severely invalidate their experience and may cause them to feel more isolated and reluctant to seek much-needed support in the future.