What to say and what not to say to a depressed person!

Ritu Singh

''Depression is like a bruise that never goes away. A bruise in your mind. You just got to be careful not to touch it where it hurts. It's always there, though.''

The word 'depression' is the most misinterpreted and the most misunderstood word of our time. Time and again, despite a volley of information circulating everywhere, we tend to confuse depression with sadness, feeling blue or disappointment. But to reiterate the fact again, they are not the same things. People still have such a cloudy idea of what mental illness is. People get sad all the time, but they don't get depressed all the time. So it's important that we start to learn the difference.

Long periods of isolation, hopelessness and frustration takes a toll on a depressed person. In such a scenario, it's often friends and family members who have the biggest impact on depressed people, either helping or hampering their recovery. Insensitivity is bound to creep in our words if we are not responsive to their condition and that may worsen their condition. So measure your words carefully when talking to such a person. 

So how do you talk to a depressed person? Here are some of the things you should remember :

Things you should say:

  • Don't worry! I am there for you. You are not alone in this : A depressed person often goes into deep depths of loneliness and isolation. Instead of leaving them alone to deal with all this as they always demand, let them know that you are there for them.
  • You mean a lot to me: A depressed person also goes through phases of worthlessness and starts feeling that he/she is not good enough. Constantly remind them that they are important to you and that they matter. As they say, one kind word is enough to cheer someone up.
  • Do you need a hug? Sometimes a hug works better than words. Human touch can work wonders for a person who constantly feels distanced from others. Just be by their side.
  • There is always hope, things will get better: Tell them that everything is going to get better in no time. No matter what the situation, it is essential to embrace hope to get through life's journey.
  • You are strong enough to overcome this. I believe in you: Show confidence in them. Tell them that you believe in their potential and that you feel they are strong enough to overcome any situation.
  • You are not crazy: A depressed person often has doubts and starts questioning his sanity. Don't forget to tell them that there is nothing weird about their condition and its just human to experience these intense feelings.
  • I understand your pain and I empathize: Being empathetic is the best way you can deal with a depressed person. Though you obviously completely can't understand their situation, you can listen to them and try understanding how they feel.


Things you should not say: 

  • Oh, you’re depressed? Yeah, I’ve been depressed too: Again you might be confusing sadness with depression. And even if you were depressed, no one’s feelings are exactly the same. Stop making everything about yourself .This could make them feel as if you’re downplaying their feelings and struggle.
  • Just grow up, life is not fair for anyone and there is always somebody worse off than you are: Yes, the world is certainly not fair and afflicted by diseases, poverty and war. But should you throw that in their face all the time when they themselves are trying to get out of it.
  • Stop being a drama queen. Oh, you have always been such a cry baby and an attention-seeker: Depression doesn't seek attention but help. Everyone wants to be in the spotlight but not in this manner. Not respecting their misery makes them descend into depression more because any negative feeling aggravates their condition.
  • Try not to be depressed all the time: Depression is not a switch, something that people can turn on and off. It's constantly there.
  • Your problems aren't that big. Look around : Yes, well there always are. But should you say to a depressed person. Instead recognize their suffering as opposed to being dismissive.
  • Just deal with it: Someone who struggles with depression is obviously dealing with it, every single moment with the best efforts they can. Telling them to deal with it or telling them to snap out of it only undermines their pain.
  • Just go out, take a break and have fun. May be you will feel better tomorrow: Depression isn’t something that goes away overnight.Going out for a night or drinking is no cure for depression. Depression isn’t just one bad day that one eventful day will wipe it out. It's like hundred bad days, all at once, with seemingly no way out. Suggesting that someone with depression have a drink is never a good idea because alcohol itself is a depressant.
  • What do you even have to be depressed about? Again, this is the most common question asked to a depressed person. Contrary to what you think, depression isn’t always caused by a traumatic or sad event and it can happen to anyone despite their status. Sometimes, it just happens.
  • It's all in your head: Depression is not an imaginary disease and no one concocts such mental scenarios in their head. It's a real medical condition just like others.