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How to Talk to Someone With Depression

Talking about personal issues with family or friends isn’t always easy. It’s a lot harder when it’s something serious, like addiction or depression. Depression is a tough fight, and one that necessitates all the help you can give. If someone you love is struggling with depression, there are some do’s and don’ts involved in talking about it. What may feel natural or best to say isn’t always right. Here are some common phrases that aren’t great to say to someone with depression, and some that might work better instead.

Instead of saying “what’s wrong with you?” say “I’ve noticed you’ve been having a tough time lately, and I’d like to help.”

Depression, like addiction, isn’t someone’s fault. It’s the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. Nothing is “wrong” with someone who has depression, and saying that can come across as hurtful and only further stigmatize them. They won’t want to open up, and you’ll only solidify their personal belief that they have something wrong with them.

Instead of saying “stop being so depressed” say “what can I do to make you feel better?”

Depression isn’t something you can just “snap out of.” It’s a complex mental health issue, and you’re not going to solve it with a just a series of words. Instead, it’s long, arduous process, but not an impossible one. Showing your loved one you’re along for the ride, for better or worse, shows them that they have an ally in a very difficult fight. Make it clear you’re there to support them. It’ll make a very big difference.

Instead of saying “I know how you feel” say “I can’t understand what you’re going through, but I want to try.”

Empathy is rare for those struggling with depression. It’s not for lack of trying, though. Many view depression as just intense sadness, when really it’s so much more. Many think they understand depression, as they’ve had periods of intense sadness. In reality, depression robs you of your energy, desires, passions, emotions, and sometimes the will to live. Odds are, you don’t understand depression, and that’s okay. Make an effort to listen; they’ll appreciate it.

Depression isn’t an easy fight, but it can be made easier with the help of a loved one. Be that person for the ones you love. Listen and support, and you’ll join them on a fruitful and rewarding journey to recovery.