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6 Things Not to Say to Someone with Depression

Like with any illness, it is difficult for people to always know the "right" thing to say.

So how about we flip things around and focus on the not-so-helpful words a person with a mental health condition would rather not hear?

Please don't say this about my depression...

Snap out of it

We are not light switches that can be turned on and off. I do not know anyone who wants to feel depressed, anxious or have any other burdensome state of mind.

You are acting like a baby

Yes, babies cry and they also sleep a lot. But just because our depression may result in those things does not mean we are being childish or adopting infantile tendencies for our own gain.

Other people have it worse than you

It may be true, but when a person is carrying the weight of depression on their shoulders, it is difficult to imagine anything worse. Besides, our health is not a competition with someone else.

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You do not need medication/therapy/help

Boy, have I heard variations of these statements many times over the years. The motivation behind these messages is that you are weak, you are looking for a "crutch," or you are relying on things or other people to help you. To that I say, bravo!Seeking help for your depression should be applauded rather than scorned. If you have pneumonia, doctors give you antibiotics, right? So why not look for a way to try to feel better?

You must be looking for attention

For me, personally, that is the opposite of what I want when I feel this way and my depression is bearing down on me. When things get really tough, on dark days, I tend to isolate myself and not want to speak to anyone or have people around me. The spotlight is the last thing people need.

Go outside

I understand that sunlight and fresh air sometimes give a boost. However, they are not the end-all and be-all. Not all days are sunny or cloudy, just like our moods.

Is it discomfort or misunderstanding?

As a person also battling a physical illness (blood cancer), I have heard many reasons and justifications given as to why others can say the wrong thing. At the top of the list is they do not know what to say. They feel uncomfortable seeing you this way and blurt out what they think is helpful advice.

But I am not so sure. In my opinion, I think people say the "wrong" types of things because they do not fully understand what living with a mental health condition is all about.

This or That

When something is bothering you, what do you tend to do?

Depression is an invisible illness

Others think that if it is not a visible, physical problem they can see, it can't be all that bad or a "real" illness.

They do not take mental health issues seriously enough. Since the pandemic, there appears to be more understanding and a little less stigma, but the tide has not completely turned.

I may be wrong, but that is the theory I have come up with as a person who was diagnosed with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder about a dozen years ago.

You're not alone in your depression

It sounds obvious to say but mental health problems need to be regarded with the same gravity as physical illnesses. Period.

For those, like me, on the receiving end of these types of comments, I am sorry. Please know we understand here and you are not alone.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.