The worst thing you can say to someone with depression

Serena Ryder and CAMH work to educate people on the worst things someone who’s depressed can hear.

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Woman with her head in her hands
“Defeat Denial,” the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health‘s latest awareness campaign, focuses on the useless things we say to people with depression: “Snap out of it.” “Just get over it.” During her own bout, Serena Ryder heard them all. The worst one for her was “You’re so lucky.”

Hearing those words just caused her more pain: “It made me feel even worse about myself. How dare I? I’m not allowed to feel anything but grateful for what I’m doing. I get to follow my passion as a career. Get over it. Suck it up.” To be fair, she says, she herself didn’t understand what severe depression was before she had it, let alone what would help and what would hurt someone suffering with it. “I understand why most people have the ideas that they do — we don’t talk about it.”

Serena wants people to open up to each other about their experiences with depression — and for their loved ones to listen. “It’s something that people need to be a lot more gentle with. It’s not something with definitive answers. Everyone has their own path to healing. Often just accepting how a person feels in that moment is the best thing you can do to help.”

5 comments on “The worst thing you can say to someone with depression

  1. I empathize with people who are depressed. I truly do. But what about the people around them? No one ever writes articles about how you get up every morning when your signifigant other just complains all the time and cannot be happy or find joy in anything. No one ever talks about how exhausting it is for the people who have to tip toe around those who are suffering. I’m sorry. I know that depression is a painful place to be.

    Reply

    • Apparently you do not understand that depression is a painful place to be. Why are you even with your significant other if their depression pisses you off so much? If you read the article above, you know that they cannot just “get over it.,” unless, I suppose, you want them to kill themselves. Ordinarily I’d advise you to just leave them now and get it over with, but that could worsen their depression. I suggest you find some form of therapy for yourself, someone who can explain to you exactly what your partner is going through and help you to find ways to support them and to cope yourself, otherwise you’re both going to be miserable.

      Reply

    • I have personally written many articles on How to Support a Loved One. My husband has unconditionally and with full support, stayed by my side since 2004 when I was hospitalized for major depression and anxiety. He continues to be a rock of love, kindness and compassion as I deal with bouts of depression. I hope you find this link helpful – it has a FREE PDF download to educate people like yourself, and links to popular blog posts about mental illness. http://simpleeserene.com/free-tools

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    • I get it, burbani. I’ve been on both sides. My mother has suffered from anxiety and depression since before I was born. It made her unreliable and inconsistent at times, so I grew up not trusting her. My father subtley influenced me against her as well, because he was frustrated with her and tired of Mom’s behaviour. Depression takes its toll in many ways, but often the partners, the caregivers, the ones who have chosen to stay and be with these people even when common sense says that maybe it’s a lost cause, they can fall prey to the illness too. As someone who lives with a depressed partner, you will find yourself angry, frustrated, irritated with them. (I used to think my mom would have gotten better if she’d just tried hard enough.) You have to find ways to cope, and that involves understanding this illness. You also have to understand yourself. Get help for yourself.

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  2. I believe some people don’t open up a conversation because they are afraid of saying the wrong thing. I agree that telling someone to get over it does more harm than good, but there are positive things you can do and say that are better than nothing at all. Instead of focusing on the words, focus on listening and find ways to let someone know you are listening.

    @burbani – I agree it is possible to care about someone who is depressed while also needing to take care of yourself. I think that article would be amazing and very helpful.

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