Depression is more and more common these days, and often as caregivers and friends we can think it is our fault or responsibility. But depression could have nothing to do with you. Children can be depressed even if they have a happy and healthy family situation at home. The causes of depression are so varied and diverse and are still not well understood by even the best scientists.
With that in mind, here are some tips for talking to friends, children, and other relatives or acquaintances with depression.
Depression is a mental disorder that adversely affects an individual’s behavior, thoughts, and emotions. In most cases, a patient suffering from depression will feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and lose interest in the activities they formerly delighted in doing.
Depression isn’t just about being sad and losing motivation in life but also pertains to how a person lives and deals with this mental illness daily.
According to the World Health Organization, there are about 280 million individuals in the world who are suffering from depression. It may be a significant figure, but most of the time, you won’t be able to tell who are the persons that are suffering from this illness. Despite the fact that depression doesn’t affect a person’s physical appearance, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a severe illness.
The people going through episodes of depression are most likely sensitive to the people around them. They might misinterpret or make a big deal out of anything because their mental illness also changes how they react to things.
Sometimes, we tend to overlook how our words affect the people around us. It’s best to be careful with what we say to avoid making them feel worse. To encourage healthy conversations and helpful advice, here are some things you should and should not tell someone suffering from depression.
Often, people who need help don’t look like they need help. Besides, no one can tell when a person is depressed just by looking at their appearance. The symptoms of depression don’t usually appear on a person’s body, but that doesn’t mean that it is not a serious illness.
Also, people who are depressed tend to alienate themselves from people they think might pity them because of their situation. They also don’t want to feel that almost every person around them is adjusting to their condition. They don’t like to think that they are being a burden to others. And because of this, they pretend to look happy and normal.
Depression has different effects on different people. Some can still be jolly, physically active, and can still interact with other people energetically and enthusiastically. Despite how they act and look, this doesn’t mean they are not experiencing a mental illness or going through a tough situation.
Instead, say these words: “You don’t have to pretend you’re alright. If you’re comfortable, you can tell me how you truly feel.”
Depression, for some people, is often caused by traumatic experiences, serious illnesses, and other complicated personal problems that a person can’t just forget in a snap. Some people need to realize that people going through mental illnesses won’t be automatically okay just by telling them to move on.
For children their depression could be caused by trauma that isn’t caused by their family – some researchers believe that simple things like falling and getting hurt can cause lasting trauma.
Telling them the phrases “Just move on!”, “Get over it!” and “Stop thinking about it!” only invalidates their emotions and what they are currently going through. Even though we think these phrases are encouraging and helpful, they could make them feel worse.
If we come to think of it, their lives would be easier if they could only choose not to deal with depression, but that’s not possible. Depression is no one’s personal choice. Hence, they could not control not to face it even if they wanted to.
We must understand and be aware that before they can experience relief, they need to undergo therapy sessions, counseling, and medications. This could take months or years, which is not easy to get over.
Instead, say these words: “I understand that what you’re going through is not easy. I’m here to listen, and let me know how I could help you.”
Depression isn’t simple, and you can’t instantly treat someone with your simple words of encouragement. The phrase “cheer up!” doesn’t reduce the pain and struggle that they are feeling. It is only and usually appropriate for people who have encountered a minor inconvenience throughout the day, which they can overcome the next day.
We must keep in mind that depression is not merely an aggravation that can be resolved easily. It is a severe mental disorder that alters the chemistry of the brain. It pertains to an individual’s mental and emotional health, which is treated for months or years.
Implying toxic positivity to a person’s serious illness could only make them feel ashamed and guilty of their condition. We must learn how to comfort them using words of comfort and compassion.
Instead, say these words: “Do you want to talk about how you feel?”
Being depressed does not equate to being dramatic. As a patient’s mental health is severely and seriously affected, their minds will be full of negative thoughts. A person going through depression will need someone who can listen to them without invalidating their feelings. They won’t open up to you again if you invalidate their feelings and place the blame on them.
Being non-judgemental, empathizing, and comforting is the best thing you could offer when a depressed person is trying to open up to you. It would be desirable if you could make them feel secure as they share their thoughts with you.
Instead, say these words: “Your feelings are valid, and I’m here for you. How can I support you as you go through your condition?”
Clinical depression can strike a diverse selection of people. No one is an exception. You can experience depression even if you are rich, successful, and famous. Even if a person’s life appears to be proceeding relatively smoothly on the surface, this does not mean they do not or will not experience mental anguish.
Being depressed doesn’t also mean that a person is ungrateful. When you tell a depressed person to show enough gratitude for everything they have, it will only make them feel that what they are experiencing isn’t a serious mental disorder. This would only lead to them not trying to ask for professional help.
Telling depressed individuals to be grateful for what they have is tantamount to blaming them and invalidating their emotions.
Instead, say these words: “I know you are in pain. I’m here if you need my help.”
Not everyone is depressed because of the same reasons. Every individual’s experience is unique and valid, which should be understood and respected. It’s good if you have overcome it and handled it well, but it doesn’t give you a pass to compare your experience to another.
Comparing and sharing your experience with someone currently going through depression will not be helpful for them as it could only make them feel invalidated. It’s great if you try to reach out to someone who’s depressed but avoid making the conversation about you. When talking to someone depressed, make sure you listen and understand rather than talk about your own experience.
Also, avoid giving advice that will discourage them from seeking professional help. A person suffering from depression should be supported by a mental health professional. Telling them that they no longer need medication or therapy sessions could confuse them about their condition. Moreover, it could negatively lead to severe symptoms of depression, such as suicidal thoughts.
Instead, say these words: “Are you having difficulty with your symptoms?” “Have you reached out to a professional?” “Let me know how I can help.”
Depression is a prominent mental health condition that impairs daily functioning. It is a mental illness that should be supervised by a medical professional.
To get treated, book an appointment with your provider, who can refer you to other medical practitioners such as therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists with expertise regarding your condition.
If you’re from the Quad Cities area, Essential Health can assist you in providing for the needs of your mental health condition.