It can be difficult for a family member or friend to understand the effects of depression. And while we generally have the best intentions of helping, we may not always express them in the best way.
If you know a loved one or friend suffering from depression, you have to be careful about the language you use. Comments, while they may seem innocent in your mind, may inflict internal harm on someone suffering from a form of depression.
If you're speaking with someone who is suffering from depression, try to avoid making the following four comments:
No. 1: "I understand. I was depressed one time"
Battling depression is not relatable to going through periods of grief. According to Prevention magazine, grief is isolated, and depression is chronic.
"You can't say you understand how someone else feels."
You might think this phrase is harmless, but it can come off as patronizing. Unless you've gone through a period of clinical depression, you can't honestly say you understand how someone else feels.
Instead, trying saying something like, "I can't totally understand what you're feeling, but I can do my best to offer compassion."
No. 2: "Everyone has issues"
This comment gives the impression that chronic depression is the same as dealing with issues at home, work or school. Life problems can often be overcome through a combination of hard work and dedication, but these two factors alone aren't enough to help an individual with depression.
As the Mayo Clinic explained, chronic depression is actually the result of chemical and hormonal imbalances in the brain — a far cry from simply having too much homework. Along that path toward a healthier life, you need to show support. You can do this be saying something such as, "You're not alone," which indicates compassion
No. 3: "Stop being so negative"
Individuals experiencing chronic depression already feel highly critical of themselves and lonely. Telling someone to stop being negative only reinforces those feelings because you're essentially criticizing someone for suffering from depression.
Psychology Today explained that those remarks make depression worse, and as a result, the individual wants to further isolate himself or herself. You might feel uncomfortable being around someone with depressive thoughts, but you need to be supportive instead of judgmental. Avoid condescending remarks while listening to someone vent. A sympathetic ear is more powerful than an ill-timed comment.
No. 4: "It's your fault"
No one decides to feel depressed. Genetics, grief, changes in brain hormones and medical conditions all contribute to feelings of depression. By telling someone it's his or her fault for being depressed, you aren't being supportive, and you're also ignoring the causes of depression.
Furthermore, this comment comes off as an accusation and may only make someone feel more isolated. You need to acknowledge that overcoming depression is a struggle, and recognize the extraordinary amount of courage needed to keep fighting. Tell your loved one or friend that you'll always be there to provide support.
If you know someone who is dealing with depression, contact Fairwinds Treatment Center. Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of depression by using a Dual Diagnosis approach. In using this tactic, Dr. El-Yousef and his staff of full-time psychiatrists, nursing professionals and licensed therapists work to first diagnose the underlying reason behind a person's disorder. Upon understanding the cause, they can then treat the condition and its symptoms.