If you’re someone with depression, you know that hearing the wrong words—even well-intentioned—can make things worse.
When talking with a person with depression, it can be difficult to tread the line between knowing what you want to say and having it come out the right way. Here are a few phrases you’re better off avoiding when talking with someone who has depression and why.
“It Could Always Be Worse”
This is one of those statements that sounds great in theory but should be avoided altogether, even to people who don’t have depression. Saying this to someone minimizes their pain and sounds more like you’re telling them to get over it. Someone with depression may feel guilt and anxiety about feeling this way, and this phrase may inadvertently affirm those negative feelings. It can also reduce their likelihood of wanting to open up to others.
Telling someone to cheer up often associates depression with someone having a bad day or a few mood swings. While it might sound reasonable, depression is much more than just a dip in happiness. This medical condition can feel consuming and takes a toll on the minds and bodies of the individuals it impacts. Additionally, telling someone to cheer up makes it seem like they haven’t tried to do that already! People with depression aren’t choosing to feel the way they do. The last thing you want to do is invalidate their feelings by just telling them to “cheer up.”
“You Don’t Look Like You’re Depressed”
What exactly does depression look like? People living with depression don’t have a specific look. Some people with depression may have a hard time taking care of themselves, and they may feel physically unwell. But depression can also affect an individual who looks healthy and happy, laughs just as much as you do, and smiles through their days. What you see on the outside often fails to show the bigger picture of what’s happening inside.
“You Were Doing So Well Before!”
Often people with depression start their day with an emotional, mental, and energy deficit, and some days it’s easier to climb out of it than others, but it’s not consistent. Acknowledging that down moments, mishaps, and plateaus will happen is important to those on the path to recovery. Saying “you were doing so well.” implies that there’s something inherently wrong with enduring a few difficult times and that recovery is linear for everyone. Instead, be open and understanding about the situation and point them in the right direction to recovery.
Treatment centers like Pasadena Villa can help with methods like cognitive behavioral therapy that point individuals toward identifying negative behaviors and emotional responses that limit stagnation during recovery. Instead of saying, “you were doing so well before,” point them in the direction of things that can help them feel much better.
“Have You Tried…”
Recommending products or tasks gives individuals the feeling that they’re not doing enough already. On top of that, many of these recommendations aren’t likely to be effective. Home remedies and essential oils aren’t going to cut it. We often assume that treating mental health can be done with lifestyle choices — like getting a new job, getting more money, or moving away from home. While some of these issues can contribute, conditions like depression don’t have a quick fix, and when you suggest simple methods, it makes an individual feel like they’re missing out on a short-term solution.
Treat Depression with Professionals Who Know What to Say
Depression is a serious mental health disorder. Even though you may have the best intentions with your words, they may have the opposite effect of what you meant. But the experts at Pasadena Villa Network can help! Here you can find support for the effects of severe depression and learn tools to help you cope. Contact us today or give us a call at 407-574-5190 and discover how our mental health professionals can support you or a loved one in your journey to recovery.