"People who need help often look like people who don't need help," said American author Glennon Doyle.
Everyone experiences sadness at times. But depression is something more than just being sad. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.
It affects how you feel, think, behave and can also lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. A lot of people are battling clinical depression nowadays. To help them, don’t just blurt out what seems like rational advice to someone with depression, try to take a moment to consider the depths of their despair and the effects of your speech because WORDS HAVE POWER.
- Don't Tell Them to Try Harder
Avoid using the sentences like- “Cheer up” or “Just try harder”
Let’s make a point here that having depression is different from having a bad day. Having someone telling you to try harder when they are already giving their best can be demoralizing and may make them feel hopeless. Instead, validate their feelings by saying "I know it might take time to feel better, but there is hope.”
- Don’t Oversimplify
Avoid using “This too shall pass”
When a person is in the midst of a mental crisis, they often cannot see a light at the end of the tunnel even after trying hard. By telling them their sadness will pass, you are diminishing the seriousness of the issue(s) they are experiencing. Instead, let them know that “no matter how long they are experiencing symptoms, you will be there for them”.
- Don't Express Disbelief
Avoid making statements like: "But you don't look depressed!", "You don't seem sad!", "I haven't been acting any different."
A person might have a terrific job, a nice home, a beautiful family, and many friends. Depression does not discriminate against a person on the basis of caste, creed, race, money, status, power. Just because things seem terrific on the surface of their life, it does not mean that they are not hurting. Open your mind to the possibility that everything is not as rosy as it seems. Instead, talk to them about their feeling and make them feel comfortable with you.
- Don't Dismiss Their Pain
Avoid comments like “it can’t be that bad”, “it could be worse”, “you think you have it bad” or "You're being so dramatic."
People with depression also lack the internal resources needed to cope with stress effectively and healthily. To you, an event or situation that constitutes a minor annoyance or inconvenience may feel like an insurmountable obstacle to your loved one with depression. Instead of judging their behavior, realize that mental illness is a ruthless and formidable opponent. Have compassion and avoid making comparisons or staging a "competition" for “who” feels the worst.
- Don't Blame
Avoid comments like "It's all in your head.", "You're imagining things."
The human mind is just as much a part of the human body like the heart or lungs. People who hear the phrase may also feel attacked, as though they are being accused of "making it up" or lying about how they feel. Instead, start listening and understanding their side of the story.
- Don't Shame
Avoiding making comments that shame them for how they are feeling such as: "You only think about yourself.", "Other people have problems, too.", "You're thinking about yourself too much."
Those with depression may seem like they are only focused on themselves. The truth is that depression can consume a person's thoughts and actions. When people are overtaken by feelings of hopelessness, it is difficult for them to see beyond their pain. By calling them selfish, you are adding to the guilt and shame that accompany feelings of worthlessness and isolation. Instead, suggest that they take care of themselves and offer to give them a break by babysitting for them maybe or bringing them groceries!
It’s tough to find helpful words for someone who is feeling depressed. Don't be afraid to say, "I am not sure what to say right now." Stay mindful that the words you know can make a big difference. If you think you've said something hurtful in the past, apologize! An apology can help someone begin feeling better if your words haven't been helpful in the past.To conclude, instead of pushing them to focus on the future or forget about the past, do your best to be present with them at the moment.