Most people think that depression is merely a state of mind that can easily be brushed off by a positive attitude, but that isn't always the case.
People who suffer from depression aren’t “begging for attention” or are “just sad” at the moment; it’s when a person is feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless—often, all at the same time. Although a lot go through this, it may sometimes go unnoticed; that’s why it’s essential that we’re aware and sensitive all the time. Here are the things you shouldn’t say to someone who is struggling with something that goes way beyond “just having a really bad day”:
1. “You should try and go out more.”
People who struggle with this sometimes don’t even have the energy or will to get up from their beds, what more, leave the house. Plus, remember that what works for some may not work for others.
2. “Just cheer up and everything will be fine.”
Depression isn’t really something you can switch on and off—and most of the time, those who suffer from it want to be okay but just can't. In cases of people with low self-esteem, they may not respond to this way of "positive reframing."
3. “You’re overreacting.”
No matter how much you know about a person’s life, you absolutely have no right to evaluate what they’re really feeling.
4. “It’s all in your head.”
Telling someone this line shows the lack of care and concern you have for that person. “If someone is feeling unwell in some way, it is within their person, not just their head,” explains Debbie Plotnick, vice president for Mental Health and Systems Advocacy at Mental Health America.
5. “You just want attention”
Other than it being rude, it’s extremely judgmental to to say something along these lines; you don’t know what they’re going through so instead of criticizing them, tell them you understand and that you’ll be there for them.
6. “Other people have it much worse than you.”
People deal with emotions differently; what may be okay with you may not be okay with others, so don’t compare different life experiences to negate what they're going through.
7. “You’ll feel a lot better tomorrow.”
“The thing about depression is that it’s not something you can will away. It’s a biologically based medical condition of the mind and the body,” said Dr. Susan Noonan, a certified peer specialist and consultant in Boston, Massachusetts and author of When Someone You Know Has Depression: Words to Say and Things to Do
8. “What even happened that made you depressed?”
Depression doesn’t need a reason, like what Dr. Noonan said, it’s a medical condition that’s uncontrollable. Rather than being dismissive about their feelings, try to understand what’s making them feel that way.
9. “That’s just a phase and you’ll get over it in no time.”
Dealing with a loved one who has a mental issue like depression needs a lot of patience and compassion and telling them to ‘get over it’ will make them feel misunderstood, says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Health.
So instead of getting annoyed with their 'mood swings' and seemingly irrational behavior, take time to understand what they are feeling and just be there for them. To further understand depression, here's a helpful video from TED-Ed: