Repeating cliches when talking to a loved one about their depression can make them feel as if you’re dismissing their sentiments. From your perspective, the terms you use to communicate your feelings may appear clear and to the point. However, the person experiencing depression may feel insulted, misunderstood, or severely offended. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking to someone you know.
Don’t Tell Them to Try Harder
Depression can occur for a variety of causes, and a person cannot always control all of the risk factors. Depression can occur when the body does not produce enough of the substances it requires to function properly, similar to diabetes or hypothyroidism. For some people, this may involve taking medications to correct chemical imbalances that may be contributing to their illness.
Although there are numerous advantages to practising positive thinking, it is insufficient to heal depression. Your well-intentioned advice to “cheer up” or “smile” may seem pleasant and encouraging, but it oversimplifies the sadness that comes with depression. Someone who is depressed cannot “decide” to be happy just because they cannot force their brain to produce more serotonin.
Don’t Shame Them
People who are depressed still care about other people. Make statements like “You just think about yourself” or “Other people have difficulties too” that shame them for how they are feeling. People suffering from depression do not need to feel ashamed of their thoughts, all they need to know is that they are not alone.
A Word From Verywell
If you’re feeling down, don’t be afraid to say, “I’m not sure what to say right now.” Apologize if you believe you’ve spoken something harsh in the past. If your words haven’t been helpful in the past, an apology can help them feel better. Keep in mind that some people may find it difficult to understand or agree with you.
Don’t Ignore Them
It may be difficult for you to relate with someone who has experienced depression if you have never experienced it yourself. If you love someone who is depressed, the best thing you can do is be open and eager to learn. Don’t abandon a conversation by claiming, “I just don’t get it,” but instead begin by assuring your loved one that you care.