13 things not to say to someone with depression

things not to say to someone with depression

Choice of language when communicating with someone with depression ‘can have a big impact on how someone feels about their mental health condition or recovery process’.[1] 

Carers and supporters should educate themselves about what not to say and adjust their use of language to accommodate the needs of the person they are supporting. Try to use language that makes the sufferer feel empowered to seek support and brings with it hope that things will get better.[2] Empowerment can come from acknowledging someone’s depression for what it is (not a phase) and giving them tacit permission to feel depressed (not ‘but why should you be sad?’).[3]

In my next video, I offer a summary of 24 sample phrases to say to someone with depression as a means of providing them with hope and support. In this second video of the series, I outline things to avoid saying.

A more comprehensive table of some of the most common language to avoid, and the reasons for it, are detailed in my book, Surviving the Darkness: Lessons learned from a battle with depression and anxiety, to assist carers and supporters develop a general understanding of how these words are likely to be perceived by someone suffering from anxiety or depression. 

Sometimes, just being there can be all that is required to provide meaningful support.



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[1] Beyond Blue Ltd. What not to say to someone with depression. Retrieved on 6 May 2020 from https://www.beyondblue.org.au/personal-best/pillar/supporting-others/what-not-to-say-to-someone-with-depression.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Psych Central, Best things to say to someone who’s depressed, 19 June 2019. Retrieved on 6 May 2020 from https://psychcentral.com/lib/best-things-to-say-to-someone-whos-depressed/.


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