When someone around you is depressed, offering advice or wisdom may seem like the best thing to do. Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you may end up hurting the person even more. It is important to remember that mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and others may need to be treated with medication, therapy, or sometimes both.

Whatever advice you give out, always make sure that the person with depression who is on the receiving end does not feel misunderstood, or worse, attacked.

1. Don’t tell them to try harder

In case you haven’t already realised it, the person is already trying the hardest that he or she can to cope with things like others. It just takes them a lot more effort and energy than those who aren’t suffering from depression or similar illness related to their mental health.

Like diabetes or hypothyroidism, depression can happen because the body is not making enough of the substances it needs to function properly. Similar to how people with diabetes might need treatment with insulin, people who have depression need medical intervention and support.

2. Don’t oversimplify

Cheer up! Smile! Stop! The whole point is that the person cannot cheer up here. Although this may feel friendly or supportive from your end, the person dealing with depression could feel like their illness is less important.

Just as someone who is depressed can’t force their brain to make more serotonin, they also can’t just decide to be happy themselves.

3. Don’t belittle their grief

A person who needs help may not always look like a person in need of help. This is true of many mental illnesses, but also chronic illnesses and conditions that are sometimes deemed invisible.

Avoid saying things like “…but you don’t look depressed”, or “you haven’t been acting any different” as it may hurt the person who is finding it hard to cope with the mental illness.

People often try to hide their feelings by shrouding them behind a smile either due to guilt, shame, or sheer embarrassment of admitting that they are suffering from a mental illness.

4. Don’t say ‘It’s all in your head’

It’s not all in their head and they’re certainly not imagining things. People who hear such phrases feel attached and feel like they are blamed for ‘making stuff up’.

Furthermore, depression very often is not just in someone’s head but in their body as well. There are many physical symptoms of depression, including chronic pain, which are very real. Depression is a medical condition that can’t be expected to improve without treatment.

5. Don’t shame them

This is often seen among parents and peers dealing with someone who has anxiety or depression in their family or friend circle. Often frustrated by their behavior, people blame them for acting selfish, saying other people have problems too.

A person with depression very well cares about the feelings of other people and this is often why they are so hesitant about opening up to people in the first place. So, if someone has opened up to you, lend them your shoulder with minimum advice.

Also read: Mental health: Why some find it harder to bounce back after lockdown

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  1. A reminder that you shouldn’t belittle a person’s grief since some chronic illnesses and conditions are invisible and cannot be seen the way we expect it to show is important to hear. I’m looking for a psychiatric practice directory to help my best friend with depression find a new professional she feels comfortable talking and discussing how she feels with. This list of things you shouldn’t tell someone with mental health issues is very much appreciated since tons of people needs to hear it.

  2. So True, people with mental health issues are often told how to easy it is to be normal. heartitout.in helps people feel safe talking about their problems.

  3. It’s vital to hear that you shouldn’t minimize someone else’s suffering since certain chronic diseases and disorders are unseen and cannot manifest as we would expect them to. I’m seeking a mental health solution so I can help my closest friend who is depressed locate a new doctor she can talk to and share her feelings with. Many people need to hear this list of things you shouldn’t say to someone who has mental health concerns, therefore it is really appreciated.

  4. I agree with these tips. We should always be careful with our words especially that we are not aware on how mental health sufferers are feeling. It is a challenging condition and our support can go a long way.

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