20 Phrases No One Should Ever Say to a Depressed Person

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems worldwide. It’s not discussed enough, and it has a stigma in society. However, it’s time we learn more about this mental illness that’s crippling millions of people worldwide. As a first step, check out the top 20 things you should never say to a depressed person below.

“Just Be Happy.”

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The National Institute of Mental Health notes that someone with depression could be persistently sad and anxious, have feelings of hopelessness and irritability, or have an “empty” mood. It’s a state of mind that alters one’s perception of the world, and simply advising them to be happy is, in a way, disrespecting what they are going through. No one who is depressed wants to be depressed; they can’t simply switch their feelings on and off.

“Snap Out of It.”

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Saying “snap out of it” to someone going through depression is like a punch in the gut. Again, depression is a mental illness that someone can’t simply switch on and off. In the same way, getting out of depression is a long and arduous journey wherein one has to be committed to conquer. Be more mindful of what you say because words like this might push them toward a downward spiral again.

“It’s Your Fault.”

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Depressed people already think that whatever negative thing that’s happening is their fault. So, saying something like this feels like rubbing salt on a fresh wound. Instead, you need to offer support and encouragement and try to make them consider treatment.

“Cheer Up.”

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Remember, people going through depression are stuck in a negative state of mind. So, trying to suddenly shift their thoughts to something positive won’t work. Yeraz Markarian, the Director of Psychology at Hackensack Medical Center, notes that this kind of advice would make them feel like they don’t have the right to feel unhappy.

“Harden up and Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself.”

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According to Mike King of The Key To Life Charitable Trust, telling someone who’s struggling with depression to “harden up” would only make them feel a thousand times worse. After all, if you think about it, feeling sorry for oneself and suffering from depression are two completely different things. If someone’s already suffering from this bleak mindset, suddenly telling them to shift their perspective is hard—it could even be detrimental to whatever progress they already have.

“Just Try Harder!”

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People with depression are already trying their best to overcome what they are feeling. However, depression is debilitating, and people suffering from it may feel like things will never get better. Instead of saying, “Just try harder,” maybe you can encourage them and say you’ll work with them to overcome whatever they are going through.

“What Do You Have to Be Depressed About?”

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One of the most common misconceptions about depression is that something terrible has to happen for someone to become depressed. But that’s not true at all. Sometimes, depression just happens. Even so, this doesn’t mean someone’s depression isn’t something to be taken seriously.

“You’ll Get Over It.”

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With time, care, and proper treatment, people suffering from depression will be able to overcome this mental illness. Sadly, hope may be bleak and far off in their current state of mind. Don’t be insensitive, and don’t rush things by dismissing what they are currently feeling. They need time and understanding, not a disregard for what they are going through.

“You’re Being So Dramatic.”

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Saying that depression is just an overreaction will never help a person suffering from this mental illness. Instead, they’ll feel guilty and even more down, thinking they are doing this to themselves. Be more mindful and careful of what you say because words are weapons, and you can make or break their progress.

“Other People Have Problems, Too.”

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Depression is never someone’s fault. So, saying something like this to them might induce guilt toward others, effectively worsening their depression and halting their progress in treatment. Aside from this, Daba Afzal, the Residency Program Director of Ocean Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry, said, “This dismissal of their feelings may make them feel like they shouldn’t open up to anyone again.”

“It’s All in Your Head.”

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While it’s true that depression is a mental illness, keep in mind that depression often hurts physically as well. In Lawrence Shaphiro’s book titled Overcoming Depression, he says that the biochemicals that influence our mood also affect how our body interprets and feels pain. So, saying this would be insensitive and dismissive of other people’s feelings.

“You’re Imagining Things.”

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Yes, people with depression may seem like they are just imagining everything they’re going through. However, depression is an illness; you can’t fault them for getting stuck in this mindset. This is why you should never force them to suddenly start thinking differently.

“You Don’t Look Depressed.”

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Depression is a common mental health problem that many people go through. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, about 280 million have depression worldwide. Depression, however, can manifest itself in many different ways—not just through a person looking disheveled or distraught. It can also manifest in sadness and numbness or losing interest and enjoyment in things.

“You Have No Reason to Be Depressed.”

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Though some people are more vulnerable or susceptible to depression than others, one thing remains true: they never choose to be depressed. Depression happens in the blink of an eye and can be caused by many reasons, like grief, financial instability, relationship problems, and more. However, sometimes, there is no obvious reason at all; this doesn’t mean you can blame them for it, though.

“Who Cares?”

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Well, the answer to this question is simple: you should care, and if you cared enough, you wouldn’t be asking someone going through depression this question. It’s insensitive and dismissive, and you’re only causing someone to have more dark, bleak, and gloomy thoughts. If you genuinely cared about someone, you’d instead ask them about how they are doing and how you can help.

“It Could Be Worse.”

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It could be worse; that’s true. But for a person suffering from depression, the worst has already happened. They are constantly stuck in a negative cycle that’s draining all the joy in their body. So, instead of saying this, try to find other ways to spark joy in their lives.

“Life Isn’t Fair.”

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Yes, life isn’t fair. However, saying something like this to a depressed person is another way of downplaying the hurt and pain they are experiencing. Always remember that depression is an illness, and simply trying to make people believe that “life isn’t fair” wouldn’t help them at all.

“I Know How You Feel.”

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As humans, we never go through precisely the same thing. So, saying you know how a depressed person feels may just backfire with anger and more hurt. More than that, depression is different from having a bad mood or a bad day. Be cautious when saying something even remotely close to this sentence when trying to comfort a depressed person.

“Be Grateful for What You Have.”

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Being grateful for what you have is a great way to develop positive thinking. However, when you’re in the thick of depression, it can be hard to find the good in, well, everything. This statement may be perceived as something that undermines what a person is actually going through.

“You Think You Have It Bad.”

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We should never compare our feelings with that of others. In the same way, we shouldn’t make people suffering from depression feel guilty because someone, in some way, may appear that they are struggling more than them. In reality, we don’t know how deep the hurt and pain the depressed person is going through. So, to avoid being hurtful, don’t say anything remotely close to this statement.

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.