10 Things Not to Say to a Depressed Person

I was going to pop this one in my “Few good links” but as regular readers will know I’m quite a fan of Beyond Blue and wanted to share four of my faves from her list of 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.

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.

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.


3 Responses to “10 Things Not to Say to a Depressed Person”

  1. Tim Says:

    How about the people that say: “Throw your tablets away. You shouldn’t be taking them you should trust in God instead.” Of course those same people, if they broke an arm or a leg, would go straight to the hospital to have it fixed by the doctors wouldn’t they?

  2. webmaster Says:

    Absolutely right Tim.

  3. Richard Collins Says:

    I quite like: “Pull yourself together” – so helpful.

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