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Helpful (and unhelpful) things to say to someone who is depressed

(116 Posts)
Lottapianos Mon 10-Mar-14 15:53:42

I've been struggling with depression and anxiety for years and am having a fairly rubbish time with it at the moment. It's reminded me what a lonely place it is. My friends mean well but they don't get it at all. My DP is very supportive but asks me too many questions.

Inspired by the thread about helpful/unhelpful things to say to bereaved parents, I thought it might help to share some do's and don'ts for those supporting people who are suffering from depression:

- Stay in touch - text often, sometimes a phonecall is too much but a text allows the person time to respond if they want to
- Don't keep asking the person how they are
- Don't ask the person why they are depressed
- Don't ask the person what they are going to do about being depressed
- In fact, just ease up on the questions altogether. It's unbelievably exhausting being asked questions when you feel like this
- Don't push the person to take antidepressants but support them if they choose to do so
- Support their choice to see a therapist and as above, don't ask a million questions about their sessions. Respect their right to not see a therapist if they so choose
- Good things to say: 'I'm sorry', 'that sounds really rough', 'it must be very hard for you right now', 'take time to feel what you're feeling', 'I'm here', 'Im thinking of you'

Please share your suggestions

Kittymalinky Mon 10-Mar-14 15:57:25


Say 'I felt low once then decided not to be depressed'

'Cheer up'

'Just think positively'

Understand that even if a person is cheerful (or even very cheerful) it doesn't mean they're not feeling unbelievably crap inside.

Lottapianos Mon 10-Mar-14 16:03:22

'Understand that even if a person is cheerful (or even very cheerful) it doesn't mean they're not feeling unbelievably crap inside'

So true. I feel like I'm acting all day long at the moment when I'm at work because I really don't care about any of it sad

Forgot to include:
do not tell the person that 'we all get the blues' or similar minimising crap

Do not say 'oh my gosh, if you knew all the things I've got going on, that would really make you feel depressed'. Piss. Off.

Do not say 'why is a lovely young girl like you depressed?' That was a GP to 19 year old me. I still hate her guts for that comment.

WhereOWhere Mon 10-Mar-14 16:05:21

'Get yourself glammed up; you'll feel great after a night out with us'.

'You've got to make an effort'.

'Its not all about you'.

'I wish I had time to be depressed'.

'I'm not surprised - all that junk you eat.'

CakeWillDo Mon 10-Mar-14 16:07:12

I think my worst was 'just smile and carry on'angry

Trooperslane Mon 10-Mar-14 16:10:14

I have a bitchy resting face and I've had cheer up all my life.

Did my box in when I wasn't depressed. I could get the total red mist at that any day of the week no matter how I felt.

Second the text - here for you, space, fancy a coffee/wine no pressure type texts. That would have helped me no end.

aw11 Mon 10-Mar-14 16:35:47

If (the depressed) is just a little quiet today, just accept it!

RiaOverTheRainbow Mon 10-Mar-14 16:43:47

Loads of 'confidence building tips' and self-help books are not bloody welcome.

Lottapianos Mon 10-Mar-14 16:48:09

As are suggestions to 'do some exercise' smile

ShoeWhore Mon 10-Mar-14 16:51:02

Don't respond to the news that the GP has prescribed anti-ds by throwing your hands up in horror and saying "Oh NO!!!"

Don't tetchily say "well you'll have to explain it to me because I just don't understand it"

Don't say, "you're very self-absorbed at the moment"

ShoeWhore Mon 10-Mar-14 16:51:13

Thanks Mum.

apermanentheadache Mon 10-Mar-14 16:57:26

Oh dear, there are some corkers on here.

I have never forgotten the GP who said "why not do something you enjoy? Have sex with your husband more, get out more" Oh yes thank you, what a stellar idea. Now let me just park the suicidal ideation for a while while we have a bit of hanky panky..... hmm

TrinityRhino Mon 10-Mar-14 16:58:54

'I don't have time to be depressed'

that is the sentence which make me want to hit people

TrinityRhino Mon 10-Mar-14 16:59:22

Oh Shoewhore, that is just awful

apermanentheadache Mon 10-Mar-14 17:00:13

Yes shoewhore. Very bad - feel for you.

Lottapianos Mon 10-Mar-14 17:02:17

Terrible Shoewhore, how very hurtful for you. I have had similar responses from my own mother and it is just so painful.

fromparistoberlin73 Mon 10-Mar-14 17:02:54

go see a therapist
consider anti depressants
see your GP and ask for help
get fresh air and exercise (well it does work)

Lozislovely Mon 10-Mar-14 17:03:37

'What have you got to be depressed about'

'You'll feel fine after a good nights sleep'

'Treat yourself to a new hairdo or something, works for me every time'

'Pull yourself together'

The text idea is spot on, me and my bestie use that method when one of us just CBA to muster up the energy to talk to each other.

Dwerf Mon 10-Mar-14 17:04:37

"Why don't you just get some happy pills?"

"Cheer up, it might never happen!"

"You're really anti-social these days."

ScarletStar Mon 10-Mar-14 17:05:23

My least favourite is 'What have you got to be depressed about?' (person then lists all the stuff they like about your life, making you feel more shit.)

50KnockingonabiT Mon 10-Mar-14 17:07:03

do not suggest to anyone (especially me) that one is choosing to be depressed/moany/whiney/unhappy, and to suggest 'cheer up' well if it were that simple we'd all be doing it!

MirandaWest Mon 10-Mar-14 17:07:53

"What can I do to make you feel better?"

It's been said with the best of intentions but never helped me as I felt bad I wasn't feeling better, and I had to try and think of something for someone else to do, when I was struggling with just being alive.

Lottapianos Mon 10-Mar-14 17:08:41

From Paris, exercise definitely does help and I'm currently using it in my own approach to managing my depression. However, when someone is suffering so much that they can barely put one foot in front of the other, that suggestion can just make the person feel even more shit about themselves.

Phalenopsis Mon 10-Mar-14 17:40:27

One of the best things to say as long as you don't expect a concrete answer: "What can I do to help?"
If the person shrugs and can't give an answer, don't take this as an insult or laziness, they're just feeling so down and hopeless that they can't think.

"I'm here for you if you ever want to talk"

As for not asking them questions - I liked to be asked questions because it gave me the chance to rant/emote/express my feelings. I couldn't have done that if I hadn't been prompted.

Negative things to say which give me the rage:

"There are people with worse problems than you, you know!"

"You have to fake it till you make it."

"Look at me! I've been through [insert illness/crisis] and I'm still here." Give yourself a pat on the back. hmm

"It's all in your head." Well, yes it is but not in the way you're meaning.

"There's an anti-depressant for everyone." No there isn't. Some are so sensitive to drugs that even the smallesy dose make them insensate.

"What did the therapist say/what did you talk about?" None of your business!

Phalenopsis Mon 10-Mar-14 17:41:34

And exercise doesn't help everyone.

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