Major Depressive Disorder is frequently misunderstood. Even well meaning friends and family trying to support their loved ones with depression sometimes say things that are hurtful. The last thing most people want to do is hurt the people they love, whether advertently or inadvertently. While they may seem innocent enough, avoid the following phrases when interacting with someone who has depression.
Cheer up, it could always be worse.
People living with depression are not choosing to take a pessimistic outlook on life. They are dealing with an illness that is frequently misunderstood and looked down upon. Pointing out that other people have bigger problems only serves to make them feel more isolated and misunderstood. It also makes them feel as if their emotions are not being validated. Instead, try to listen to their concerns with compassion and empathy for what they are going through.
I’ve heard that treatment is ineffective. You should try ____ instead.
No matter how much research you do to try to support a loved one going through depression, you are still not their medical professional. Their doctor knows the ins and outs of their specific case and has likely customized a treatment plan that will be most effective for them specifically. Just because you have never heard of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) doesn’t mean that it is ineffective. Likewise, just because WebMD lists side effects for antidepressants doesn’t mean that certain patients can not benefit from them. Try to leave the diagnosis and treatment to the medical professionals, and instead be there for emotional support.
Why are you so selfish? Life doesn’t revolve around you.
Major Depressive Disorder is an illness, not a giant pity party. This is not a situation where tough love is likely to help. When someone is depressed they are not trying to be selfish. Nor are they selfish when they take the time to seek treatment. You wouldn’t tell a cancer patient that they are selfish for treating their disease. Don’t treat a loved one dealing with depression that way.
I thought you were stronger than that.
Living with depression is not a sign of weakness. However, the stigma that only weak people suffer from depression is what leads some people to try to hide their illness. It takes courage to get up every morning and face mental illness. Acknowledge the strength of your loved one and encourage them as they continue to fight depression.Everyone gets depressed sometimes.
While everyone does deal with low moments and periods of sadness, not everyone lives with depression. Depression is different from the normal blues that everyone experiences from time to time. Depression is far more severe, and lingers for days or weeks rather than being a fleeting sadness that passes in an hour or a day.
Avoid Phrases that Invalidate
Sometimes the most well meaning people can say things that are hurtful or insensitive. Try to avoid phrases that invalidate or trivialize the experience of a loved one dealing with depression. Instead be a listening ear, and try to speak with compassion and empathy.
For more information about the latest innovations in treating depression, contact Strive TMS:
801-494-1922 (Utah Residents)
702-291-2967 (Nevada Residents)