20 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Is Depressed

Depression is unfortunately a prevalent mental health issue, so you’re likely to encounter several people struggling with depression throughout your life. While there are several helpful things you can say to people battling this issue, there are also many that can be harmful. Here are 20 things you should never say to someone who is depressed.

“Just Snap Out of It”

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As noted by Verywell Mind, this phrase implies that being depressed is a choice and can be easily overcome. Naturally, this will only make someone struggling with depression feel worse, misunderstood, and like their struggles are being minimized. In reality, depression is a serious mental health issue that can be very challenging to treat.

“Others Have It Worse Than You”

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While this comment may come from a good place of wanting the person to feel better about what they do have, it’s more likely to have the opposite effect. It invalidates the depressed individual’s pain and experience and could make them feel guilty about feeling the way they do.

“You Have Everything Going for You”

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Like the last comment, this one can be well-intentioned, but it stems from the false belief that people doing well materially cannot struggle with mental health issues. It is likely to make the individual feel misunderstood, ungrateful, or guilty about their struggles.

“You’re Just Being Lazy”

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There’s no real excuse for this comment. Telling someone who is depressed that they’re being lazy completely invalidates their serious mental health issue and mistakes their unwanted lack of motivation and energy for a choice to be lazy.

“It’s All in Your Head”

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Yes, depression does involve mental components, but that does not make it any easier to overcome. This statement also fails to acknowledge the fact that there can also be biological, psychological, and environmental factors that can contribute to depression.

“Cheer Up”

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Like other phrases on this list, telling a depressed person to cheer up is completely counterproductive and is based on the false premise that you can simply choose to stop being depressed. Because of this, it will only make the person feel misunderstood and potentially exacerbate their depression.

“You Don’t Look Depressed”

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As pointed out by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression can affect anyone and manifest itself in various ways. Therefore, expecting a depressed person to look and act a certain way is misguided and wrong. You should never tell someone they don’t look depressed, as it invalidates their own personal experience with depression and may make them feel like you don’t believe them.

“This Too Shall Pass”

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While this phrase usually comes from a good place, it can still have a negative impact. It can feel like a minimization of the person’s present pain and struggles, and they may also be in a place where they feel like their depression will be a lifelong battle.

“Have You Tried Being More Positive?”

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People who are struggling with depression are not choosing to be negative. Therefore, telling them to try being more positive is unhelpful and invalidating. It fails to recognize the chemical imbalance that often underlies depression and will usually make them feel worse.

“You Should Go Out More”

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When you have depression, going out or even doing daily chores and tasks can feel impossible. As such, telling them they should go out more can feel like a big invalidation and misunderstanding of their experience. It also works off the false assumption that simply going outside or socializing will improve one’s depression.

“Depression Isn’t Real”

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As you can imagine, there’s no chance this comment will do anything positive for a depressed person. Depression is a real, serious, and often debilitating mental health issue, and telling someone that it is not real will make them feel completely unheard, misunderstood, and invalidated.

“You Just Need to Get Over It”

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Nobody can “just get over” depression. As stated by Medical News Today, it is not a choice and is often caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain. Depression often takes many hours of therapy, different types of medication, and a lot of support from others to resolve.

“Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes”

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Depression is not the same thing as sadness. While people usually experience sadness for short periods of time and because of a specific situation, people with depression can feel depressed for days, weeks, or months, and sometimes without any known trigger.

“Try Not to Think About It”

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This suggestion may be well-intentioned, but it implies that ignoring depression could be a solution, which is untrue and potentially harmful. It is important to acknowledge one’s own depression to recognize the problem and find appropriate solutions.

“But You Seem Fine”

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No matter how happy and functional someone appears on the outside, you don’t know what could be going on beneath the surface. Telling them that they “seem fine” will only make them feel like you do not understand or believe the severity of their mental health condition.

“Happiness Is a Choice”

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Unfortunately, happiness is not a choice for depressed people. No one would choose to be depressed, so suggesting otherwise will make someone struggling with depression feel misunderstood and potentially responsible for their own suffering.

“You’re Just Looking for Attention”

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: depression is not a choice. Implying that someone’s depression is an act designed to get attention can be extremely invalidating and damaging to their mental health. It may also discourage them from attempting to seek support in the future.

“Things Could Be Worse”

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You may be tempted to say this in an attempt to put things into perspective and help someone feel better, but it usually has the opposite effect. Depression is often not dependent on one’s circumstances, so no matter how well their life seems to be going, they could still be immensely struggling on the inside.

“You Don’t Need Therapy/Medication”

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It’s never a good idea to tell someone how they should cope with or treat their depression. While suggestions are okay, everyone’s experience with depression is different, so it’s important to allow them to try a range of options until they find ones that work for them.

“Just Exercise More/Eat Better”

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While exercise and dietary changes can improve symptoms of depression in some cases, this is definitely not always the case. Furthermore, telling someone to simply exercise more or eat better is likely to make them feel like you don’t understand the psychological factors contributing to their depression.

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