Depression is perhaps one of the most difficult mental illnesses to deal with, and to talk about. This is why depression is too often misunderstood and not dealt with in the right way, leading to a serious impact on someone's mental health.
Having researched the subject by talking to various friends who suffer from depression while also drawing on my own personal experience, here is what not to say to someone who is depressed.
1. Are you attention seeking?
Sometimes, a little sympathy goes a long way - and sometimes, people with depression simply need to be treated the same as anyone else.
2. You don’t have anything to be sad about.
Ultimately, as is often misinterpreted, depression doesn't necessarily need a cause. Someone may have many things to be happy about, but their mind won’t be affected by external situations.
3. How are you?
This may seem odd, however, the first way to talk to someone who is depressed is to change the way you word things slightly. Instead of asking someone 'how are you?' it'd be better to ask them how their day was, as that's more likely to get a more positive response.
4. Are you depressed because you think it's cool?
It is true that self harm and sadness have been glorified on the internet. But not only will this remark decrease the self confidence of someone suffering from depression, but they may also feel anger at themselves for giving into something that some people might see as ‘cool’.
5. Get over it.
Mental illness is often misunderstood as something that can be controlled by the person suffering from it. In the same way that you shouldn’t walk on a broken foot, a depressed person doesn’t need to be told that their mental illness is their fault.
6. But you don’t seem like you’re depressed...
It’s not always obvious that someone is suffering from depression. In addition, that person might be on antidepressants or may be trying incredibly hard to overcome their feelings.
7. Are you sure you want to join in?
A more important way to treat a depressed person is to treat them pretty much the same as you would in ignorance. If they feel like they're getting special treatment they're likely to feel left out, or it's more likely to reinforce the belief that they're different and aren't going to recover.
8. It’s all in your head.
The idea of telling someone that they’re imagining their mental illness may lead them to avoid seeking a GP or getting other help because they’re afraid they’ll be judged.