Depression is a serious medical condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly at any point of time or for any reason. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize the seriousness of it and decide to advise the person suffering from it. This is when all hell breaks loose because what they say, though it may come from a place of concern, might not be helpful and might actually make things worse. So if you know someone going through this difficult time and want to impart your sagely wisdom onto them, please take a few minutes to read this before you do.
1. Don’t Ever Say “Just Snap Out Of It”
To a person who doesn’t completely comprehend what depression is, it might seem absurd to find a healthy looking individual in so much suffering. Out of their desperation and helplessness in solving the problem, they may ask the depressed person to “Just snap out of it”. It is unfortunate that they don’t realize that being depressed is not a conscious choice one makes. The person going through this difficult time would “snap out of it” if they could but it doesn’t work that way. Their actions and thoughts may be beyond their control and they may need extended therapy to show improvement. Most importantly, they need your support through this process.
2. Don’t Say “It’s Not A Big Deal. I’ve Been Depressed Too”
People tend to confuse the feeling of grief or sadness to that of feeling depressed. They therefore assume that they have been through the exact same experience, have managed to come out of it unscathed, and expect the same out of their loved one. But this is not the case. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.” But being sad is not the same as having depression.” It is essential that people realize the difference between sadness and depression so as to not underestimate the effects of the latter.
3. Definitely Don’t Ask “Aren’t You Too Old For This Whole Attention Seeking Thing?”
Many people, out of frustration arising out of an “unsolved problem”, might want to associate it with a cause that removes their responsibility from it. They might say that the person suffering from depression is “trying to get attention” or is “punishing their family”. They may unconsciously try to blame the victim when they feel like they can no longer be of any help. It is important to keep in mind that you can always help but perhaps not in the way you want to and you may not see the results as fast as you expect to see them.
4. For Pete’s Sake, Don’t Ask Them If They’ve Tried “Insert Thing”?
Suggesting “reading the bible”, “drinking chamomile tea”, and “trying meditation” are all understandably coming from a genuine place of concern for the other’s well-being but at the same time people have to realize that it isn’t always appropriate or helpful. It would be much better to ask the person suffering what you can do to help rather than telling them what they should do.
5. Never Say “You Brought This On Yourself”
People suffering from depression did not choose to do so. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Depression can affect anyone—even a person who appears to live in relatively ideal circumstances.” They can be caused due to several factors including biochemical, genetic, personality, and environmental factors. Therefore one must never assume that there is an element of choice in this condition. One should realize that they themselves could have been in their loved one’s place had the circumstances been different.