How to Talk to Someone With Depression: 13 Ideas For What to Say
How do you talk to someone with depression? If you have never had depression or something similar, you probably won’t understand how it feels. Depression is more than just having a bad day or going through a rough patch, it’s something much more serious. Depression is a common mood disorder that affects our society and social, work, and family environments.
Many times, we try to encourage our loved ones by belittling their situation with phrases like “Come on, it’s not a big deal, or “If you work on yourself you’ll be alright”. When, in reality, these ideas only strengthen their negative thoughts. This is why we need to try to understand what they are going through before talking to them. We have to try to put ourselves in their situation and make an effort to be empathetic.
This video from the World Health Organization (WHO) tells the story of a black dog, a metaphorical figure that describes what it’s like to have depression and how to talk to someone who has it.
If you want to know what it feels like for someone who has depression, take a look at this video. We can all learn a lot from this black dog.
How to talk to someone who has depression? 13 things you can say
1. It’s important to tell the person that you are there to help them. Don’t try to console by telling them that there are people who have it worse.
2. Remind the person that they are special and important to you, instead of saying “this happens to everyone”.
3. Ask them if they want to talk or if they want a hug. Avoid dismissing their feelings.
4. Remind them that depression is just a mood that may just be a passing feeling. Don’t tell them that they’ve lost their mind or that they’ve always just been a “sad person”.
5. Suggest that they exercise. Exercise releases endorphins and raises serotonin levels in our brain which makes us feel happy.
6. Tell them that the best thing they can do is to get out and do things that help them escape from their negative feelings. Someone with depression tends to obsess about their problems. This is why it’s best to get them out of the house: take a walk, go to the movies, go skating, or just be with them to break them of their bad habits.
7. Let them know that going through a depressive state will help them learn how to cope and ultimately make them stronger.
8. Even though you can’t fully understand how they feel, try putting yourself in their position. Normalize the situation by saying things like “If I were in your position, I would feel the same way”. This one phrase can help the person from feeling misunderstood and alone.
9. Make sure they know that their depression won’t push you away. Let them know that you won’t abandon them and that you are there to help.
10. Remind them that you love them and give them attention. Don’t tell them that you’re sick of them being the center of attention.
11. Be interested. Help them express themselves and feel understood. Talking about their problem isn’t a bad thing, as long as it’s not a recurring topic.
12. Sometimes you don’t need to say anything. We may ask ourself how to talk to someone with depression and we forget that just being there can be a big help.
13. They may feel like no one understands what they’re going through. Encourage them to seek professional help and offer to go to therapy and support them however you can.