5 things to never say to a depressed friend

Supporting a friend with depression shows that you care for them, but unintentionally saying the wrong things can trigger your friend or make them feel worse. While there’s really no right or wrong way to be supportive (you just have to let your friend know you’re here for them), there are a few things that you can avoid saying altogether. Here are 5.

“Stop being sad”

Depression is a mental illness that can be triggered by a lot of factors. This means that someone suffering from this illness can’t really control the feelings of sadness and hopelessness that it brings on, so telling them to stop being sad is very insensitive.

Allow your friend to express themselves and let them know that their feelings are valid and that there is professional help available for them, should they want to reach out.

“Be more positive”

While thinking positive thoughts can help someone feel better, it doesn’t help someone who suffers from depression. In fact, this can make them feel even more disheartened and frustrated with themselves and their condition.

Rather ask your friend if there’s anything you can do to help them and educate yourself on the condition so that you can offer proper support.

“You don’t look depressed”

When a friend tells you about their depression, try not to say that they don’t look or act depressed. There are already so many misconceptions about depression, and your friend doesn’t need to be pressured to play a certain role in order to validate their condition in other people’s eyes.

Remember, disclosing about a mental illness is a huge step for many and it’s important for us to offer an ear, be kind and steer loved ones towards places where they can get help before we make our own judgements.

“Some people have it worse than you”

While there are people in the world living through some dire circumstances, it’s not our place to point this out or make someone feel guilty for experiencing depression. It doesn’t matter how ‘easy’ you think your friend’s life is, if they are struggling with a mental illness, then they need help, support and reassurance that they are not alone.

“You’re imagining things”

Telling someone that it’s all in their head and they can get over it can only make them feel worse about their condition and isolate them further. Try listening to your friend and getting more information on the subject if you don’t understand it.

The most important thing you can do for a friend who is struggling with depression is to be supportive and offering an ear without judgement. Let them take the lead when they’re around you and allow yourself to be their safe space. It’s important to remember that depression can be treated and if you are not a mental health practitioner, you will need to advise them to either see a doctor or contact SADAG for help with their condition.

Remember if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).