Consolation is the first thought that crosses your mind when you find out someone close to you is having depressive episodes. However, it is quite natural for the other person to not feel good about your advice that may even be something done with purely good intentions. What happens when you offer your advice or suggestion without having much knowledge about the nature of your friend’s mental illness.
Depression is a medical condition that requires treatment no matter what someone may say against it. The treatment may vary from therapy, medication, or both. Sometimes, your depressed friend can even think that you don’t really care if you talk to them in a way, they don’t find pleasing.
So here is a list of 5 things that you need to avoid saying when talking to a depressed woman:
1- “Try hard to get out of it”
A woman suffering from a mental illness is already on the verge of giving up, because even if you do not believe; she has been trying her hardest to make things work. Suggesting her that the key to her happiness is as simple as trying harder, is only going to make her feel more terrible. Try to refrain from saying such things.
To explain it in a scientific manner, depression occurs when the body is not functioning properly due to a lack of some chemicals. Just how a person becomes dull when she suffers from a physical illness, it is about time that depression starts getting treated in the same way.
2- “Be Happy”
Your empathizing approach with telling “Be happy” to a woman battling a mental illness may make you feel supportive, but that very same effort cannot just be done by hearing it. Your brain produces a chemical called serotonin, that chemical is responsible to make you feel better that eventually lead to you feeling happy. That chemical can’t just be produced by putting someone’s words into consideration. They need what the brain requires to produce. Pessimism takes a huge toll on you when any mental illness hits you. A person can’t be cured just by thinking in a positive way.
3- “But you don’t look depressed!”
You can’t tell whether a person is depressed or not just by looking at them. Chester Bennington is a big example of it. His family shared a photo of him smiling and looking so full of life just a day before he attempted suicide. You can’t judge what a person is going through by merely having a look at how they look. That is just judging a book by its cover. A woman can have her make up on, to conceal those dark circles or puffy eyes. She can be wearing nice clothes and looking good. Since, there is a lot of stigmas attached to mental illnesses, it becomes a requirement to look presentable in order to avoid bringing up the topic of depression. Everyone is not comfortable in talking about why they are hurting.
4- “It could be worse”
Comparing someone’s struggle when they are going through the hardest time of their life, in a way to make them feel better is probably the worst thing you can do. During that state of vulnerability, the person puts their entire trust in you. Can you imagine what a woman must go through when she ends up hearing that she may not have got it worse and things could be harder than they are for her at the moment? Those statements are enough to kill even the least of the hope she might have with life.
5- “It is just in your head”
Depression is invisible. However, that does not give anyone the right to tell a person that “it does not exist or that it is only happening in their head; so, you should not let it consume you.” These phrases make the person, on the other hand, feel attacked. They think they are being accused of lying about how they feel. Moreover, depression generally is not just in their heads. There are many physical symptoms of depression, as well. There are chronic pains that get triggered, which can’t be ignored. If you or a loved one is showing signs of depression, or struggling with depression, BetterHelp has therapists in your area that can help.
These were some of the many phrases that a woman suffering from depression gets to hear every now and then, which only adds to what she is already going through. Try not to become so intrusive with a woman who you know may be suffering from depression. Do not push her to focus on a brighter side, or she should just forget about what might be causing it. Just be with them at the moment and offer support. You do not have to contemplate what might be the correct words to say at the moment, just being there for her and listen to what she has to say may even be the best thing you can do to about the situation.