8 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Depression

8 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Depression

8 Things NOT To Say To Someone With Depression

After an overwhelmingly positive response to my post, 8 Things People Have Said To Me About My OCD, I’ve wanted to write one about depression for ages! So here it is, with the usual dose of honesty, thought-provoking sincerity and heavy sarcasm!

It’s all in your head.

Yes, that’s where the brain is located. A* in biology for you! It’s the same as telling someone with asthma, “It’s all in your lungs!” Yeah, thanks for that Captain Obvious!

I do not understand why any other part of the human anatomy can get sick and society is perfectly accepting of it. People are usually so kind!

Got a headache? “Do you want me to go to the shop and buy your some Paracetamol?”

Stomach bug? “Oh, you poor thing!  Take as much time off work as you need!”

Broken leg? “Have you got a sharpie so I can sign your cast?”

However, when the organ that controls all parts of the body doesn’t work as it should, it’s so commonly dismissed.

“Why do you need to take antidepressants for?”

“You can’t take a sick day because you’re just in a bad mood!”

“Let me know when you’ve cheered up!”

I will never understand that bloody stupid logic.

You don’t look depressed!

Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot to bring my literal black cloud to hang over my head with me today. Perhaps I should get a big flashing neon sign that screams “I’M DEPRESSED” just so it’s a tad more obvious to you.

Depression doesn’t have a ‘look.’ Yes, just like any other mental illness, there are consistent stereotypes. For example, the teenage girl crying underneath her duvet, listening to sad “emo” songs and hating the world. But ANYONE can suffer from the illness, no matter their age, gender, nationality, sexuality, occupation or lifestyle. Remember, Robin Williams, one of the greatest comedic actors and stand-ups, shocked the world when suicide took his life. This seemingly happy, hilarious guy was the opposite of what some may imagine a depressed person to look like. Pain does not need to be seen to be felt. Pain does not need to be seen to exist.

Just do some exercise!

I’ve heard it all, from “Go for a run to get those endorphins flowing!” or “Have you tried yoga? That will totally chill you out!”

Trust me, if I could yoga the depression away, or literally run away from it, I’d be the fastest, bendiest bitch on this side of the equator.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware of the benefits exercise can have on your mental health and all the science that backs it up. But, it doesn’t cure a mental illness. It’s difference from person to person. Exhaustion and lack of energy are common side effects of depression, which can make it extremely difficult to even get out of bed some days, let alone get all hot and sweaty behind an exercise bike. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple fix.

It’s just a phase

When you finally find the courage to speak out about your struggle with depression and then someone pipes up with “It’s just a phase! You’ll be fine tomorrow.” Actually hun, it’s a major disorder of the brain, but thanks for your input.

I used to get this all the time as a teenager. I was 15 when I was diagnosed with clinical depression, so it was easy for others to blame it on my hormones or simply being a ‘moody teenager.’ I don’t think it was until I started taking antidepressants the year after did I begin to be taken a little more seriously, especially by my parents. Of all the things I’m sure they imagined for their teenage daughter, severe and psychotic depression was not on the wish list.

Other people have it so much worse! What do you have to be depressed about?

Repeat after me. Depression is NOT a choice.

Depression is an unconditional illness that can come and go as it pleases. It doesn’t give a crap if my life is going well, positive things are happening or people love me. It’s a dirty trickster who loves nothing more than to cause destruction and doubt. Telling me other people have worse problems does not make my big black cloud float away. Mental illness doesn’t have to stem from some childhood trauma or devastating event for it to be justified. Brain scans have shown there are significant physical differences between a health brain and a mentally sick brain.

Plus, its common for people with depression to suffer a major side of guilt about feeling the way we do, possibly because of its impact on our loved ones or because in reality, on the outside looking in, our lives are pretty good. So, this ignorance is not helpful!

Snap out of it!


Depression doesn’t have an on and off switch (which is probably a good things as my OCD will make me touch it 10 times.) Nor is there a magic spell that enables me to wave a wand and suddenly everything is fan-bloody-tastic. I don’t choose to be depressed just for the hell of it – literally and metaphorically speaking. There are many theories. A chemical imbalance in the brain, a different brain structure or because of something from your childhood. What these theories have in common is that none are/were my choice.  So please don’t tell me to just ‘snap out of it’ and expect me to transform in the blink of an eye, you absolute moron.

You’re being selfish

This is what someone in my past called me when I told them I self harmed. I was only thinking of myself apparently, and I didn’t give a damn about how anyone else would feel about it.

This is something I always struggled to understand, as my mental health tells me I’m being selfish and self-centred. But according to that logic, I wouldn’t have thought about my parents when I ended up in hospital because of my depression. Nor would I have cared about my friends when I constantly cancelled plans because I just couldn’t go out. But actually, it’s the opposite. Depression tells me these people are better off without me; they’d be happier. I’m doing people a favour by hiding myself away. Why would they want to be around a misery like me?

It’s a warped logic, and one that deep down under the depression, I know none of it is true. So, acts that may seem selfish on the outside are the ones I can convince myself are completely selfless.

Just be happy!

HA! This is my absolutely fave. I mean, be happy?! Why didn’t I think of that? How very silly of me.

It’s like texting happiness, ‘Where you at?’ and it leaving you on read.

You wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg to just ‘walk it off’ would you? So please don’t think it is that simple just because my illness is cognitive.

THINK before you speak.


Do you have any to add?

As always, thank you for reading.







  1. Amanda
    25/11/2017 / 03:40

    I told my bff of 20 plus yrs I felt suicidal she told me not her problem and walked away. That was 3 mo ago not a day goes by I don’t cry about that. I have 5 doctors trying to get me of a drug called cymbalta. And yet I hurt more from what she said then any pill could make me. Needless to say we are no longer friends. And that makes me sad on top of the other crap 😢☹️

  2. Sue
    24/07/2017 / 09:17

    My husband has experienced depression on and off for years and is presently taking medication to help him. I don’t say any of these things because I can see how hard it is for him. I do feel powerless to help except for being there and understanding that sometimes he just can’t do things. So I suppose my question is looking from the opposite side of this; what (if anything!) IS helpful to say or do because if I’m missing out on something I can do to help then I want to know!

  3. 18/07/2017 / 13:43

    “Get over it” and “We’re all depressed, that’s just life” – two of the careless things people have said to me over the years. The mind truly boggles.

    Thanks for this list; you are a great writer!

  4. 16/07/2017 / 19:47

    I hated when I used to get these comments. They don’t help a situation. They make it so much worse for the person and are definitely not supportive. This is a great post! 🙂

  5. 13/07/2017 / 22:19

    There is a lot of ignorance about depression and people do think it’s just a bit of sadness. I lived with someone who suffered depression long term and it was really tough for both of us and medication had side effects. Later on, I went through a depression after a family death and partner break up. The light at the end of the tunnel is just not there anymore. You lose hope.

  6. Kristine Nicole Alessandra
    12/07/2017 / 20:52

    These are indeed the worse things you can say to someone with Depression. Maybe these people think depression is just “being sad about something” or just “craving for attention.” No, it is more than that. They need support and understanding, and of course, professional advice. Thank you for this post. I hope more people will be sensitive to what other people are going through.

  7. 12/07/2017 / 17:18

    Luckily, I think society is getting better awareness on this issue. Hopefully the stigma surrounding mental health issues will continue to improve!

  8. Helen
    11/07/2017 / 22:32

    Pull yourself together is my favourite one I’ve been told. Grr!
    It’s sad that after all these years and the recent push in mental health awareness people still don’t understand it or learn how to speak to people with it.

  9. 11/07/2017 / 17:13

    Amen to that. The amount of times someone has told me I can’t be depressed as I look happy or that it is me being dramatic is unreal. I try to stay positive but at the same time if I am not feeling ok then I will be honest about it x

  10. 11/07/2017 / 14:32

    I always think that people that have never really experienced depression before just see it as something you can ‘snap out of’ but until you’ve experienced it yourself you are in no position to give any real advice. I’ve often felt like I have felt depression but I know people who really have it and what I’ve felt is nothing like what they go through.

  11. This is a post I really love and can understand. I just love the direct (and sometimes humorous way) you have bluntly put across some hard-hitting truths so people who don’t have a clue about mental illness can ‘snap out of it’. When I hear people saying ridiculous things in pure ignorance, this is a post I need to send them to so they can get some appreciation of how silly they sound. The more people that can get the points you have outlines above, the better. Great post.

  12. Anonymous
    10/07/2017 / 23:24

    As always fantastic stuff. Boom. Good to read something new

    But woah don’t be slagging my yoga off! Haha but you’re totally right of course. I always feel better after a yoga session but I’ve gotta get there and do it first. Use it as a aid.

    Just today even I’ve tried to speak to a very good mate about how I’m feeling – who’s been great with me from the very beginning. And a lot of phrase like these were getting said. I just gave up in the end. All the best, take care and keep on keeping on ! ??

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