Why You Shouldn't Tell Someone With Depression To Just "Cheer Up"
Depression is a constant, dark overcast that follows you, your every breath, your every step, and your every move.
It's similar to a shadow, only it doesn't walk with your step; it moves against you.
Gripping you, sometimes breaking down your proverbial spine, it makes you feel as if you have no backbone to shake it off.
You can't “just shake it off,” because the chemical imbalance in your body does not work that way.
You could be in the middle of the most jubilant activity, surrounded by love, friends, and festivities, and it'll still loom, squeezing you to a manically somber pulp, so that the only thing left dripping is the energy you don't have to fight off these demons.
You handle it how you handle it, but people won't always understand how to handle you.
It's important to recognize that, if someone in your life has depression, you won't ever truly know the inner struggles they're going through.
But you can try to understand, and you can choose your words with care when you talk them through the difficult times.
Elite Daily spoke with a few experts to help you understand exactly what not to say to someone struggling with depression, and why you shouldn't say it.
Joshua Klapow, licensed clinical psychologist and associate professor of public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says there are many "wrong" things to say to someone who is depressed.
If I had to pick the one that I believe fosters the most shame among individuals with depression, [it would be], 'You are being selfish. If you cared about yourself, you would have a more positive attitude.' This is similar to the 'just cheer up' statement, but it puts the blame of depression on the person. It moves from a statement about them being weak (just cheer up) to them being intentionally depressed.
You should never makes someone feel like they are actually choosing to be depressed.
In the eyes of an individual with depression, who is already filtering everything from a negative perspective, the idea that they are purposefully and willfully doing this can be devastating.
So, what should you say instead?
According to Dr. Carol Lieberman, M.D., a Beverly Hills psychiatrist and author, the best thing to say to someone suffering from depression is to simply let them know that you hear them.
She tells Elite Daily,
The best thing to say to someone who is depressed is: 'I'm sorry to see you are so sad. I think it would be a good idea to go to therapy to get help figuring out your problems so that you can feel better. And, if it is true, you can add, 'when I was going through a tough time, I went to therapy and it really helped.'
Sometimes, all you have to do is show someone you truly care about them, and show them their feelings are valid.
Hearing someone out and providing solutions can go a very long way.
Karen Whitehead, licensed master social worker, tells Elite Daily,
The best thing to say to someone suffering from depression is something that validates how they are feeling and makes it about them, rather than about yourself.
She goes on to provide some helpful examples of exactly what you can say to a friend battling depression:
'I don't know how you're feeling (even if you think you do), but I'm here to listen.' 'That must be really challenging. What's the hardest part?' (Get curious.) 'You may not know right now, but if you think of a way I can help, please let me know.' 'Would it help if I just came over and visited instead of going out?'
Take it from these experts, and please, choose your words wisely.