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What to say and not say to a person with depression

Discussion in 'Depression Disorders' started by s1mp13m4n, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. s1mp13m4n

    s1mp13m4n Newbie

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    10 Things Not to Say to a Depressed Person 1. It’s all in your head. You need to think positive.
    Upon hearing this, I wanted to throw a life-size figure of Tony Robbins at them. Because, while optimism is certainly important in training the brain, studies have shown that people who are severely depressed or acutely anxious only activate their amydalas (fear center of the brain) by forcing positive thinking
    2. You need to get out of yourself and give back to the community.
    This is one that certainly made bad things worse. Because now, in addition to feeling severely depressed, a person also feels guilty and self-absorbed. Yes, giving back is important, but only when a person is healthy enough to hold a ladle at a soup kitchen.
    3. Why don’t you try and exercise?
    This is good advice. Exercise has strong antidepressant effects. However telling someone that they need to exercise is a little like telling someone their butt looks fat in those jeans. You need to hint at it, but not put it directly on the table, or else the person may very well take up kick-boxing and practice with you.
    4. Shop at Whole Foods and you will feel better.
    Why does this get me? Because 1) I don’t have the money to shop at Whole Foods, and 2) although I know that my diet affects my mood, and the more organic the better, I resent your telling me that my Frosted Flakes is what’s causing power outage in the left frontal lobe of my brain.
    5. Meditation and yoga are all you need.
    Correction: meditation and yoga may be all that people experiencing mild and moderate depression need. Both are important tools to reduce depression. However, acute anxiety and severe depression are different animals altogether. In fact, my suicidal thoughts worsened with yoga.
    6. Get a new job.
    Maybe the job is making your loved one depressed. Stress is never a good thing for our health, and especially our emotional health. It pours toxins into our bloodstream. But don’t encourage a major decision while the person is depressed. A balanced perspective is needed.
    7. Are you happy in your relationship?
    Again, relationship problems might certainly be triggering the depression, but I’ve talked to too many people who almost left their husbands and wives when they were clinically depressed, thinking that something around them must be the problem. Since a spouse is the closest thing, he or she gets blamed for the mood dips.
    8. You have everything you need to get better.
    This, of course, implies that all pharmaceutics are toxins that do nothing more than dull your emotions. Guess what? Some forms of modern medicine actually aid recovery!! Seriously! Kind of like chemotherapy for cancer patients, and insulin for diabetes. Would you tell a woman with breast cancer she has everything she needs to get better? No. I didn’t think so.
    9. Do you WANT to feel better?
    This was my very favorite. Because it suggests that we can will ourselves to be as happy as we want. Want to be a little more giddy? Let me just adjust the optimism lever a tad. There we go … happy again! Again, I do think you do to watch your thoughts, retrain them and retrain them, applying tools for optimism. But I don’t think we can pull ourselves up by our bootstraps without any help every time. Please don’t make the person feel like a failure in addition to depressed.
    10. Everyone has problems.
    CBS covered this one, but it’s important to note again because it comes up so often. Forget about Congo and Bangladesh when talking to a depressed loved one. Some people absolutely do have it worse. But that doesn’t make her pain any less real or profound. Chances are if you do bring it up, she will also feel weak and pathetic … like she has no right to feel the way she’s feeling, which will, of course, make her feel worse.


    What You Should Tell a Depressed Person!​
    1. I'm here for you

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: You're not alone in this.
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]
    [/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]2. You matter[/FONT]
    [FONT=&quot]What to say: You are important to me. [/FONT]
    3. Let me help

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: Do you want a hug? [/FONT]
    4. Depression is real

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: You are not going crazy. [/FONT]
    5. There is hope

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through. [/FONT]
    6. You can survive this

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: When all this is over, I'll still be here and so will you. [/FONT]
    7. I'll do my best to understand

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: I can't really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion. [/FONT]
    8. You won't drive me away

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: I'm not going to leave you or abandon you. [/FONT]
    9. I care about you

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.) [/FONT]
    10. We'll get through this together

    [FONT=&quot]What to say: I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don't need to worry that your pain might hurt me. [/FONT]
     
    Hisbygrace likes this.
  2. healingrainbow

    healingrainbow Regular Member

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    This is good guidance, thanks. This should be a sticky post so that people can read it right away :)
     
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  3. wraithintheshadow

    wraithintheshadow Newbie

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    For people suffering from suicidal thoughts the Army has brought out the ACE card.
    It is a highly useful tool when you are at a loss.

    first step in A.C.E. is:
    Ask- it may even just be are you feeling depressed? Do you need to talk? But it could be even more important: Are you feeling like you want to hurt your self.

    Care- Talk to the person show them that you care about them. remove them from a dangerous environment and get them some place safer if need be.

    Escort- Simple take the person to someone trained in the matter of combating suicidal thoughts. try your local church, the hospital, or a behavioral health clinic.

    The most important thing is to follow basically what s1mp13m4n said and show that you care and not that you want to belittle their problems.
    It helped save me twice now.
     
    Hisbygrace likes this.
  4. IndigoG

    IndigoG Newbie

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    thanks for that post. My husband struggles with depression and I have found it difficult to find anything about how I should respond.

    those responses a good, but I find it hard to keep saying 'We'll get through this' when I can't do anything about it. It is hard to keep hearing about his struggles when I can't fix it for him and I don't know how long this will continue.
     
  5. Received

    Received Shucks

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    The first list does a great job of collecting the superficial comments people may make, and the second does a good job of getting to the initial point anyone should have in mind when relating to someone with depression: support. However, it clinically and psychologically has been proven that depression is treated best with cognitive methods, which don't aim at magically forcing yourself to think positively, but rather to rationally analyze and dispute your automatic thoughts -- which may have been out of your awareness your entire life. The pursuit of meaning has also been shown to be negatively correlated with psychological difficulties, depression primarily among them. Both of these attempted solutions should only be given within the context of the spirit offered in the second list of the OP: support and trust.
     
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