What not to say to a friend with depression

Nine per cent of American adults suffer from depression. Most of us will – or already do – know someone with depression, but despite the prevalence of this problem, we often don’t know how to handle it, or show support for a depressed friend, relative or acquaintance. Here are a few things you should steer clear of when talking to someone with depression:

“Cheer up”

Depression is an illness and it should be remembered that those who suffer cannot simply, “cheer up.” In fact, telling them to do so is likely to make them feel worse when they are unable to, only furthering their depressive cycle. Phrases like “suck it up” or “cheer up” only minimize the issue.

“It’s all in your head”

This also happens to be something depressives already know. But this notion that it’s all in your head can make you feel more weird and isolated than you already felt. To a person with depression, this only furthers thoughts and feelings of being “not right” and out of control.

“There are others worse off than you”

It is very difficult for a person with depression to put things in perspective. This kind of advice can feel like you are being dismissive, as opposed to supportive. Remember, offering comfort is more important than finding a “solution”.

When you’ have a loved one with depression the best thing you can do is reassure them that they are not alone, and that you are there for them if they need to talk (or, sometimes, just hug). It is important to keep in mind that things will change, but you shouldn’t expert a quick fix. Patience, comfort and support are your most valuable offerings.

Need help? In the US, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.