What Not to Say or Do When Someone You Love is Depressed

I have had clinical depression for five years. The following are a result of personal experiences; some good, and some bad. It all starts with confusion about what depression really IS. Depression and sadness are not the same thing. Everyone gets "the blues." Many people refer to that as depression. It's really a misnomer. Depression is a medical condition caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. When it is seen in its true light, the following ideas are much easier to understand. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with depression, or if you know someone who exhibits the symptoms of depression, please keep these tips in mind. You can't "fix" depression, but you can help someone get through it and find the help they need.

1. Don't say "it'll be okay."  To an individual with depression, it will NOT be okay. Not ever. The fact that you say it will be okay when we know it won't totally destroys your credibility. It also minimizes our pain.
2. Don't say "I understand." Even if you've been diagnosed with depression yourself, you can't possibly "understand" another persons pain unless you've lived their entire life to that point. When I'm in a depressed state, I'll quickly point out the ways your life is different from mine, and I can get pretty angry. I might just shut down totally. On the flip side, I've been in a depressed state at times when my life is totally perfect and problem free. If you've never been depressed, you can't possibly understand the feeling of wanting to die when your life is, for all intents and purposes, wonderful.
3. Don't hesitate to ask if a depressed loved one has been taking their medication. If things get really bad, you might be the one to talk to the doctor. You'll need to know what has and has not been taken. Don't get angry if they say no. Offer to go get them their medication and a nice glass of water. Don't lecture. We know we're supposed to take it. Reminding us that we're to blame for our situation because we chose not to swallow the pill every morning does not help. Read more...

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