Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think, behave and could lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. The key word there was physical, because you feel like you physically cannot do anything. Feelings of hopelessness and failure take over your mind, and your body shuts down on you because of stress. Depression makes you feel defeated, like you have no strength to get back up. A person who is depressed may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities. Depression is more than just sadness; It is deeper than that, having depression may require treatment or psychotherapy. Depression is not a weakness, and you cannot simply “snap out” of it. Let us get into learning about 7 things a depressed person does not want to hear, and what is healthier to say to them.
Think positive and positive things will happen to you.
I hate this one, mainly because a depressed person does not say “I want to be negative today.” They are closing themselves off to you, and the world for a reason or no reason at all. Most of them never come out and say, “I am depressed and I need help.” This happens strongly in the Latino family because they do not want to be labeled as crazy. Stigma is strong in our culture. Some see having depression as a sign of weakness and refuse therapy, this approach needs to stop. Talking to a professional is a sign of strength and acceptance. Speaking about positivity is helpful to someone who needs inspiration or lost their job, but that statement does not work well for someone who is going through depression. Instead listen to them, and accept that their feelings are valid. Say “I am here for you.” Talk to them about all the amazing qualities they possess and can give to others.
Do not make them feel guilty about things they have or have not done in their lives.
You know the saying “don’t kick people while they are down.” This will not only upset them, but it will make them feel even worse. Saying things like “you should have listened to me” or “this is happening because you are x y & z,” is simply wrong and toxic. The last thing someone needs to hear when depressed is for you to bring them down and call them names. Instead talk about all their success, say “you have come so far,” and “I admire your resilience during this difficult time.” This will make them remember the bad ass strong person they are.
It is all in your head.
My grandma use to say “those are demons in your head, and you need to pray about it.” Having faith in God did attribute to me feeling better, but going to the extreme and bringing up demons would make a person feel they are in a bigger hole then they thought. These statements are unhealthy and it is best to leave the word demons out of it.
Depressed people cannot change their way of thinking to bring comfort to you or others around them, so saying this will not help. They need love and understanding.
Get over it, and it will all be ok.
Reassurance does not help a person who is depressed. They are not ok right now, and we need to validate how they feel. A good example is when a mom goes through postpartum depression, she wants help around the house and to be praised. When a mom feels appreciated for everything she did physically, by giving birth and maintaining a household, that speaks volumes to her. Appreciation, love and affection, and most importantly help with her day to day, will restore her. When a person goes through depression, they do not need you to fix them, they need you to love them while they fix themselves. We can do this by saying “I am sorry,” and “we will get through this together.” And saying “wow your such a great mom or dad.”
Using words like WE and US is extremely healthy when talking to someone who is depressed. It shows them they are not alone in this. Say “how can I help you? can I run an errand for you? clean the kitchen? watch the kids while you shower? We will go to therapy.” or “We will get through this together. This setback won’t come between us, because I care about you.” These statements are healthy to state to someone who is depressed.
Saying get over it, is a smack in the face to a depressed person. What they hear is, “I do not care about how you feel.” These types of statements make a depressed person feel worse, they will not speak on their emotions and just live-in silence about it. Some people are known to do this, they say “I am just going to keep on working,” and their depression ends up getting worse and turning into full blown burn out and psychosis.
Asking a person why they are depressed? and saying, not to be.
Though you want to know what is making them depressed you need to give them space and ask them about day-to-day life instead. Short and open-ended questions are better. Let them know you are here for them and you care. A lot of times we suffer from generational toxic relationships. People speak to their kids harshly and sternly, thinking they are making them stronger and manning them up for life; when in all reality, we are breaking their spirit and leading them to being insecure and having toxic relationships with others.
Making it all about you, instead of them.
It is great to share and let a depressed person know that you also experienced depression. This does make them realize they are not alone, and they end up sharing more. What you do not want to do is make the entire conversation about you, this is disregarding their feelings. One time I heard a person say “so you are depressed? so what, so many other people are too. I went through it too and I came out stronger.” This made me cringe, I was so angry when I heard this. If someone is being vulnerable enough to say they are depressed you should not bring them down and disregard their feelings. Instead say, “let us talk about it, because I know you are not feeling well, and this difficult experience will make you stronger one day.”
Telling them they need medication.
Whether they want medication or not, that is not a statement they need to hear from you bluntly and disrespectfully. What you should ask is if they are open to seeking counseling or therapy? After they have spoken to you ask if they have thoughts of hurting themselves? Suicide is a serious concern, and it needs to be approached in an understanding and sensitive way. If anyone discloses this, you want to take them to a hospital or call a mental health professional. Do not call 911. Police are not mental health trained professionals. Its better to contact someone who is trained in this field.
I hope that this has helped you to understand how to communicate with a person going through depression. Feel free to share this article on Facebook or with family or friends that need to read this.