Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top 10 Tuesday - Ten Things Not To Say To A Depressed Friend

You want to help. You just don't really know how. So you decide to throw some words out there and think it's going to make magic. Most likely, it's not.
I've been battling anxiety and panic for years with little spurts of depression popping in here and there, though it has been less often than the anxiety part of it. When I was down under that cloud I really couldn't hear what anyone was saying clearly, to be honest. I heard a totally different translation of what people said that was usually formed by my own mind. So, really, regardless of people's good intentions, sometimes it made things worse.

Here's a list of ten things you shouldn't say to a depressed friend or loved one. 
(In my humble opinion, anyways.)

  1. You need to get out of the house and do something. While that can be momentarily helpful, a person who is severely depressed knows that once they return home the cloud is still there. It might even follow them while they are out making even the most exciting adventures seem pointless and uninteresting.
  2. Count your blessings! You have so much to be happy about. Sure. We all do, even in the worst of circumstances. Often, the fog is just too deep to see that through, however.
  3. Find a hobby or something you enjoy. Maybe it worked for you. It's worked for me in the past. It's not going to work for everyone, though. I can almost promise that offering this 'advice' to someone isn't going to encourage them to pick up a paintbrush and splash their way to sunny just because you tell them it will help.
  4. You don't need to take those pills. I don't like the numbers I see about how many people are taking anti-depressants or benzodiazepenes on a daily basis for long periods of time, myself. I think they are over prescribed, wrongly used and often abused. I do think there are people who need them for a time to stabilize chemical imbalances or just make it through until they are able to carefully and under proper medical observation wean off. We all have our opinions on that issue but forcing them on someone already in the midst of despair is capable of being dangerous to their health.
  5. You need to try taking _____ pills. Same concept as above. If you are well educated in pharmaceuticals or medicine, just let them know if they have questions about their medicines they can ask but please do not try to play the role of someone's doctor unless you are their doctor. If you think they should look into something, just casually mention that you've heard good things about it.
  6. There are so many people that have it worse than you. Is that supposed to be comforting? It just makes me feel worse!
  7. You just need to come hang out with me/go out with me/let me cheer you up. Your depressed loved one needs to know that you are there. They need to know you want them in your life and will not be giving up on them. Push through to them! Love on them. Please, please, please do not pressure them to do things they don't feel like doing or make them feel guilty for not wanting to hang out, though.
  8. You can't be sad all the time. Yes, you can. It's not a fun way to live but it happens. Maybe you've never experienced it but your friend is experiencing it and it's very constant probably.
  9. You're such a party pooper, just snap out of it! Are you serious?! Yes. Serious. It's been said to me before, it's been said around me to someone else before. Not in a joking manner. Purely out of disregard. And it's SO NOT COOL, YO. Just don't even go there. If you are actually saying this to your friend that is severely depressed or in an anxious or panicked state, chances are, you aren't really their friend. 
  10. It's all in your head. No, really? I thought it was in my foot.

So, there. You might disagree with me. *shrugs* 
If, however, this was helpful to you, I've done my job and I'd like to know so let me know in the comments what your experience with depression has been and if anyone has ever said these things to you or if you've been guilty of saying them. I can be totally real right now and admit that I've said some of these things both before knowing better and even after knowing better because, well, cliches happen.

Update: I've now posted a "part two" to this post, suggesting ten ways to help a depressed friend.

Disclaimer - I'm NOT a medical professional, I'm just a girl who has been there. ;)


  1. Hi there. I'm curious what you'd say to a friend who is extremely negative and always in a depressed mood. It's my coworker and about two years ago lost her husband to cancer but I hear (I'm friends with her daughter in law pre-working together) she has always been like this. Some days her negativity is unbearable and I'm a pretty happy go lucky person. Any advice you have to deal with those days is much appreciated!

  2. Hi Beverly, thanks for stopping by and commenting.
    I'm in the process of planning a follow-up post to this for next Tuesday that will possibly be helpful so be sure to check back for that next week,
    In the meantime, I might be able to offer advice based on my own experiences (I'm not a professional- just a chick who's been through it). How closely do you work with her? If you work closely enough with her that her depression is negatively affecting you I want to encourage you to hang on to your sunny disposition. Sometimes it might not seem like it but there is a chance that just your cheerfulness might help her. It might be the only smile she gets, the only hope she sees on a given day. Be a light for her. :)