How to Talk to Someone with Depression

Depression is something that has always been around and most people will experience it at some point in their lives, often without even realising it. If you are lucky enough to have never experienced it then it’s can be difficult to understand how it feels.

Much more than just having a bad day, or going through a ‘rough patch’, depression is very serious and can have far-reaching consequences if left unchecked. Depression is a common mood disorder that can affect everything from social interactions and family life to the workplace.

There are ways of speaking to those suffering from depression that avoid belittling them or making them feel worse, as there is still an unacceptable stigma associated with the disorder. Equally, there are ways of speaking that should be avoided. In their guide to depression, Psychology Tools explain that some of the most unhelpful things to say are things like “come on, it’s not that bad” or telling someone they need to “get over it”. As well as being disrespectful, this approach can only serve to reinforce the negative thoughts they are already having about themselves and their situation. This is why understanding is important when speaking to somebody suffering from depression.

How Should We Talk To Someone With Depression?

It is important to let the person know that you are there for them, and want to help them. It’s tempting to want to try and console them but this should be avoided, despite your positive intentions this is actually dismissive of how they feel and can make them feel worse.

Equally important is to let them know how unique they are and how special they are to you. This kind of thing is much more meaningful and beneficial than saying something like “this happens to everybody at some point”. Again, this is dismissive and unhelpful.

As powerful as positive words can be, sometimes a hug can be just as important. Depending on your relationship with them, simply grabbing them may not be entirely appropriate, but there’s certainly no harm in asking. Offering a hug is another way to show you understand how they are feeling and care about them, which can help reduce their feelings of negativity or low self-worth.

It can also be beneficial to remind them that depression is a mood and may pass. It might be difficult or even impossible for them to remember a time when they didn’t feel depressed, so reminding them that it will pass, even if it means with help, can give them a much-needed boost.

Helpful suggestions are welcome also. Offering to go on a walk or helping them make a list of the things they want to achieve that day. These small suggestions can help a person feel as though they’re not alone and reminds them that they don’t have to face depression by themselves. Whichever approach you take, remember that empathy is welcome, pity is not. Depression can be life-altering and should always be treated with care and understanding, try to imagine what it must feel like to have your feelings dismissed and try to avoid doing the same.


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