Things That You Should Not Tell A Person Suffering From Depression


Anjana is a final year Medical student at KMC, Manipal who strongly believes that words alone have an inexplicable power to bring about the change that we wish to see in the society. She is a blogging intern at Safecity who writes poetry, mostly on mental health and sexual abuse, in the hope that it might give her readers even the slightest bit of strength to keep fighting.         


Things That You Should Not Tell A Person Suffering From Depression


Various external factors could affect the mental state of a depressed person, especially the way a person talks to them and the way people behave around them. One of the most relieving factors is to have a strong social support system. But many times, either due to the social stigma attached to this disorder or the lack of knowledge about how to help a depressed person, people often are bound to make mistakes. Here are the few things I’ve heard and aren’t exactly the right things to say to a person suffering from depression.


It’s all a drama. All you’re seeking is attention.

No, no one will willingly drown themselves into a vicious cycle of self-hatred, worthlessness and suicidal thoughts just to gain attention. This is one of the worst things you could say to a depressed person. Depression is an established severe mental disorder and requires immediate attention. Stating such a thing would make the person go deeper into this cycle and will intensify their symptoms.


What do you have to be so sad about? You’re so privileged.

Do not belittle anyone’s battle. Each one will have their own tolerance threshold and every fight is a fight however small it might seem to you. Depression has nothing to do about privileges. You cannot snatch away a person’s right to feel just because there exists other people who are doing worse.


It’s all in your head.

Depression is as real as any other physical disease. Just because you cannot see as well as you could see an illness like the flu, it does not mean that it is not there. Oh, it is very much there and isn’t a figment of their imagination.


Change the way you think, stop withdrawing yourself, and be happy. You’ll be just fine.

If a depressed person could change the way he or she thought and started inducing positive thoughts and emotions according to will, then it would not in the first place be called depression. A depressed person cannot just be happy. Trust me, we try. It isn’t just possible. No one withdraws themselves for joy. It is one of the symptoms of depression and it isn’t in our hands. In many instances of anxiety disorders, it is a response that depressed people develop in order to shield themselves from the way they might feel in certain situations. Understand that and stop pushing people to go and face their fears. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. If one knows for a fact that being in certain situations will trigger their anxiety to such an unbearable extent, they would rather not put themselves iin those situations in the first place unless they’re sure that they can handle it. And this ability to deal with such stressful situations comes with getting help from certified professionals and takes time. A lot more time than you would expect. This isn’t a fever that would miraculously go away after popping a few pills. Please understand that and help them to seek professional help before pushing them to face stressful situations.


Committing suicide is a cowardly act.

Suicide is the last resort; a response to what depressed people think is inevitable. When all fails and there is no ray of sunshine left when worthlessness and guilt take complete control over our minds, that is when the mind begins to think about suicide. So when a person tells you that he or she wants to take away his or her life, do not laugh it away like it’s nothing but a joke. Understand that they might be hanging by just a thread. Take it extremely seriously and gain their trust to make them confide in you. Listen out, every small detail, however insignificant it might sound to you, and assure them that you shall be with them no matter what.  Help them seek professional help. Telling them that suicide is a cowardly thing to do will in fact drive them away from you.


You don’t need medications to help you.

Depression cannot be prayed away. Pharmacotherapy is an established and very important component of treatment for severe depression along with psychotherapy. Brain chemistry contributes majorly to depression and these medications help in modifying the chemistry and elevating their mood. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers and aren’t habit-forming. Psychotherapy alone isn’t 100% effective in treating moderate to severe cases of depression.

Sometimes, all they need is some space. Be sure to give them their space but know when not to as well. You might be thinking it’s better to stay away than making situations worse by unknowingly saying something that ought not to be said. Or other times, you might not know how to make a depressed person feel better so you might want to safely maintain your distance in order to prevent yourself from making them feel worse. Let me tell you this, this does not help them. If you do not have any idea as to how to help a depressed friend, read about it rather than staying away. As a person who has suffered from depression, I have personally lost many friends and have been excluded from groups in the name of being given some space. This worsened my condition and I eventually began to feel left out, unwanted, and not loved. I began to distance myself from people whom I used to be close with and started to make new associations that helped me get better. I sought someone who listened to me, who loved me, and instead of letting their lack of knowledge about the disorder act as an excuse to exclude me, they started to read up in-depth about depression and visited my psychiatrists to understand the same. 


So the next time when you see a loved one or even an acquaintance showing signs of depression, please read up in detail about depression, how it works, and how you could be of help. You could save one life by doing so.


The views expressed are that of the writer.


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