What NOT to Say to Someone with Depression
The conversation on mental health is necessary, but it needs to be approached with the utmost care to bring comfort to affected individuals and avoid contributing to the stigma. Here are five things you shouldn’t say to someone dealing with depression.
“Things could have been worse”. Somewhere out there in the world, someone is without a home caught in between war conflicts and hungry. However, this doesn’t mean that a person’s depression can be brushed off and classified as unimportant. Individuals with depression are probably aware of the size of their problems against pressing societal crises, but they still can’t help but feel the way they do. It helps if you recognise the problem for what they are and not for how great or small they look to you.
“It’s all in your head”. It may all be in their head but to them, the negative feelings and self-deprecating thoughts are REAL. They’re so real that people with depression can feel the emotional pain in their body; that’s why they sleep a lot or too little and feel lethargic. When you use this phrase, you are suggesting that a depressed person’s emotional pain is only of their own making and, thus, aren’t real. Refrain from saying this. Instead, assure them that their feelings are valid.
“Snap out of it”. This is a big no-no. Depression and chronic sadness aren’t something people can just snap out from. They are mental conditions that alter the chemistry of the brain and affect a person’s mood and behavior. Saying “snap out of it” sounds like belittling the cause of mental health awareness as an issue that requires just as much attention as physical health problems.
“When I feel sad, this is what I do…”. Even when you’re telling them this with only good intentions, it may come off like you’re making the conversation about yourself. Remember that what worked for you may not do it for them, especially as you are not under similar circumstances. It’s better if you stick around, listen to them, and admit that you don’t know what it’s like and, therefore, can’t tell them anything. Encourage them to see a professional.
“You only think about yourself”. This is the worst thing you’ll ever tell a friend who is suffering from depression. Their mental disorder causes them to be preoccupied with negative thoughts and feelings. So much so that they seem to only think about how badly they feel. This is not an act of selfishness. Instead, it’s an effect of their mental illness that they have very little control over without psychological intervention.
Saying the right words to a person with depression is indeed challenging. It’s a good thing you can be better at it through Standard Mental Health First Aid training.
MHFA training is a course anyone interested in delivering immediate care to individuals with mental health problems can take. The training is provided over 2 days and includes topics like crisis management, practical responses, and MHFA action plan. MHFA is also intended to encourage trainees to raise mental health awareness and breaking the stigma associated with mental disorders.
For an in-depth description of the course, you can visit our webpage.