It’s not your job to ‘fix’ someone’s depression so don’t say that

You might be tempted to tell them to "get over it" but there are things you should never say to someone who is depressed.

Seeing a friend or loved one having a hard time either due to a bad circumstance or depression can be a difficult time to go through. Someone who might always be happy and smiling but is finding life difficult you might want them to return to their happy selves, or you might just be looking for the “right words” to help.

Unfortunately, the right words are hard to come by, and people sometimes find themselves hurting the relationship with the person by saying something unintentionally hurtful. Here are some guidelines from mental health experts about what not to say to someone doing it tough.

Just Smile.
When smiling is the last thing that you feel like doing, it can be incredibly hard to force it. Plus, this is more for the people seeing the smile than the one smiling. If you can see that the person is “ok” it’s easier to return to your own problems. This is malicious, of course, but the need to “fix” the problem might mean you are looking for emotional shortcuts to get out of the situation. Maybe they just want you to hear them or just sit in silence. Hear them and their problems out and don’t try to “fix” it.

Maybe you just need to sleep on it.
Sleeping is another way of avoiding the problems and can lead to the situation getting worse. While sleep might work for a cranky grandchild or to cool off after an argument, it’s not going to help with sadness or depression. Sending someone off to bed just can make them feel like they should deal with the situation alone when they should really be seeking some help.

Life can be hard for everyone
While this one might feel like you are helping them put it in perspective, what this can do is make people feel like their feelings are invalid and that they don’t have the “right” to feel this way because there are others worse off. Depression can hit anyone no matter the lifestyle.

Could be worse
Chances are if they are suffering from depression they already feel worse. This is another attempt to put their pain in perspective, but it’s not going to do anything but possibly make them feel they are emotionally intruding on you and they could feel alienated. Situations could always be worse but point that out isn’t helpful.

If someone is reaching out to you most likely, they are not expecting you to fix it but be there for them. Offer them an ear, a shoulder, or take them to get help. They came to you because they wanted you, it’s important to be there for them.

If you or someone you know are suffering from depression, you should speak to your doctor or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

What are some other things you should never say to someone who is depressed? What advice do you give to those trying to help someone through a dark time?

  1. Phil  

    Just snap out of it ……..
    Depression worsens when you know you are affecting others

  2. Elizabeth Lewis  

    True depression is not something you can ‘just snap out of’ and those types of comments come from someone that has never suffered from depression. When someone is surrounded by blackness and there seems no way towards the light having someone say something like that makes that person feel more worthless than they already do. Also, generally who make comments like that are projecting something from within themselves, ie if they have felt down or slightly depressed then someone told them to ‘just snap out of it….’ they have inner resentment that they are then passing on to the person who really is suffering.

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