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How to Support Friends With Depression: What to say and what to avoid

Things Not To Say To Someone Who Is Depressed


When someone you love is hurting, your first instinct is to help. Offering words of comfort to a loved one who's expressed their pain can be a powerful way to show your care.

However, it's crucial to be mindful of your words, especially when dealing with depression, a medical condition that requires sensitive handling.

While your intentions may be loving, the wrong words can unintentionally convey the wrong message, potentially worsening their emotional state.


What Not to Say to Someone with Depression

Below, we'll explore the top three responses that people with depression often find unhelpful and even hurtful:

1. Do Not Simplify Their Feelings

Telling someone to "smile" or saying, "You're too beautiful to be depressed," oversimplifies their complex emotions. Depression is a medical condition with no quick fixes.

When you offer such simplistic advice, it can come across as dismissive, as if you're saying, "It's not that deep, just smile." Understand that depression requires support and patience, not oversimplification.

2. Do Not Become Dismissive

Saying, "It could be worse," dismisses the pain they are expressing. It's essential to recognize that everyone's experiences and pain are valid, regardless of how others may be faring.

Your aim should be to make them feel heard and understood, not to minimize their feelings by making comparisons.

3. Do Not Blame Someone for Depression

Avoid statements like, "You're selfish," or, "What about the people who care about you?" Blaming someone for their depression is not only untrue but can also be deeply hurtful.

Depression is not a choice, and implying otherwise can exacerbate their feelings of guilt and sadness.



To provide effective support, consider these do's:

  • Ask How You Can Help: Offer your assistance and ask how you can support them or help them find the assistance they need. This shows your willingness to be there for them.
  • Be Empathetic: Express empathy and understanding. Let them know that you are there to listen and that their feelings are valid.
  • Reassure Them of Your Love: Remind them that they are loved by you and that you care about their well-being. This can provide comfort and reassurance during difficult times.


To avoid inadvertently causing harm, remember these don'ts:

  • Dismiss Their Feelings: Never downplay their emotions or tell them to simply get over it.
  • Compare Their Situation: Avoid making comparisons with others' experiences, as it can invalidate their pain.


By following these do's and avoiding the don'ts, you can provide the support and care that your loved one needs during their journey with depression.

Your words and actions can play a significant role in helping them on the path to self-care, improved mental health, and overall well-being.

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