Clinical depression is often misunderstood. It’s not just a case of episodic sadness. It persists and slowly takes over the life of the affected. Depending on the severity of the case, depression stems from biological, social and psychological causes. It can’t be treated easily by taking medication or shoving bleak sentiments into one corner.
People with healthy minds often view depression as exaggerated sadness. Counselling organisations, such as Bethesda Counselling & Family Therapy, say that this thinking cause people to give insensitive remarks that will only make things worse.
Below is a list of statements you shouldn’t say to someone suffering from depression:
Believe it or not, depressed people are desperate to find their way out of the labyrinth. But, lines like ‘Look at the bright side’ or ‘Cheer up!’ will not reinforce any positive perspective. It may even offend the person. While these lines are intended to encourage the affected, they may be actually perceived as something that trivialises the situation. If you can’t offer any sound advice, don’t leave the person’s side. Your presence may be enough to soothe them.
‘We Know How You Feel’
No, you don’t. And if you do, you only know it in theory. A person struggles differently from the other, and telling this to someone who has depression will only undermine the reality of his suffering. Admit that you don’t understand what the person is going through, but give him every assurance that he can count on you.
‘Someone’s Got it Worse’
This is the same as ‘We know how you feel’ and ‘You have so many things to be grateful for.’ Remind yourself that depression is not just about the feelings; it’s a disorder that you can’t simply compare with episodic sadness. Saying this to someone struggling with melancholia can be demoralising. You’re somewhat writing off their pain as something that is part of their entire existence.
‘We Don’t Know You Anymore’
This is perhaps the most painful thing a depressed person may hear. A depressed person occasionally thinks he’s going mad and believes he has turned into someone else. Hearing this statement will only validate a depressed person’s belief that there is no way out.
To avoid giving these remarks, understand that depression is not about a person’s lack of coping skills. It’s not a flaw or weakness in his personality. It’s a disorder that doesn’t only need treatment, but also compassion and understanding.