5 Things To Say (And 5 Things Not To Say) To Someone With Depression

"These simple words and the meaning that they carry can make a huge difference."

It can be really difficult to comfort a friend who has been diagnosed with depression, especially considering the stigma around depression that depicts spending time with depressed people as difficult and even unbearable. Below are five things you should – and shouldn't – say to someone with depression.

Support from loved ones and friends is imperative to recovery and with minimal input and effort, these simple words, and the meaning that they carry can make a huge difference.

1. "Would you like a cup of tea?"

A simple gesture of kindness, such as offering to make a cup of tea for someone with depression, is more helpful than you can imagine. When done in sincerity and with the intention of supporting a friend or loved one, kind gestures such as these convey the notion that you are available to help with everything from mundane household tasks, to joining them on a grocery trip, or accompanying them to the doctor.

DON'T criticize someone with depression for not completing their everyday tasks or getting through simple acts such as showering or making a meal – as they recover with time, they will be able to deal with these tasks again.

2. "I’m here to listen."

Silence is golden and listening is one of the greatest forms of support that can be offered to someone with depression. This will give them time to think about their feelings and talk about what they are going through when they are ready.

DON'T crowd in on someone with depression and don't overwhelm them with prodding questions about how they are feeling – this often comes across as pressure and can easily cause unwanted anxiety and stress.

3. "You are not alone."

A simple text message reminding someone with depression that they are not alone can go a long way in brightening their spirits. Verbal reminders are also a great way to offer support and are opportunities to empathize and share feelings.

DON'T be deterred by an uncooperative attitude or when you receive no response. Keep in mind that it is not about you – rather, it's about making your presence felt and serving as a safe support base in case your friend or loved one desperately needs to reach out to someone.

4. "You are important and you matter to me."

Reiterate the value and worth of people whenever you have the opportunity to do so – people with depression often lose their direction in life and end up feeling worthless and unimportant. It is important to remind people suffering from depression that they are worth fighting for and that you will stand next to them in the battle against depression.

DON'T tell someone with depression that they are a disappointment. Avoid reminders about past mistakes and failures as people with depression are in a vulnerable state and require constant affirmation of their ability to achieve success and recovery.

5. "I’ll do my best to understand what you are going through."

Although it might be difficult to understand what someone with depression is going through, an attempt to relate to their emotions and thoughts shows your willingness to support them. Try to understand what they are telling you instead of just drawing your own assumptions and beliefs.

DON'T tell them that you once felt depressed for a few days or during a difficult time unless you've actually suffered from depression yourself. By relating a serious condition such as depression to a time when you were feeling down, you can easily come across as demeaning and unsupportive.

In conclusion, the above article offers 5 helpful things to say to someone with depression. Remain supportive, be available to listen and help at any time and be sure to affirm and encourage whenever possible – your presence and care can make a huge difference in the life of someone with depression.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health issues, there are a number of resources available to provide support. Check them out here. 

Cover image via Unsplash

This story originally appeared on Teresa Cooper's blog, Embracing the Spectrum. Cooper is a 30-something wife, mom and teacher from Havelock, North Carolina. While she also holds a Master of Science in Education from Walden University, she has a BA in Psychology with a minor in Creative from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having struggled with anxiety and depression most of her life and later having birthed a child with autism, she is passionate about spreading awareness and acceptance of mental illness and autism and has been writing for Embracing the Spectrum since 2011. She also writes for The MightyThe Huffington Post, and The Educator's Room. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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