12 Things Not to Say to Depressed People

12 Things Not to Say to Depressed People


This video is part of a series for Everyday Feminism: a website dedicated to helping you stand up to and break down everyday oppression. Do you have a friend, family member, coworker,
or partner suffering from depression? If you’re a person living on this planet, then chances are
you do. You might even be one of the 121 million people across the globe living with depression
and are simply fed up with non-mentally ill people giving you less than helpful advice. That’s not to say these problematic comments
and generally unasked for pieces of advice come from a place of malice or bad intentions.
These comments are often made out of concern for the depressed individual or stem from
a lack of understanding. Even as a person who suffers from depression, I’m sure I’ve
unintentionally said a few of these things myself. Unfortunately, no matter what the intent of
the comment is, it can often end up doing much more harm than good. Which is why I turned
to Tumblr and asked fellow depressed people about the comments they’ve received from
acquaintances that they found particularly troublesome. I received over 200 messages
and replies, and as I went through them, it was fairly easy to spot trends in their responses. So without further ado, here are twelve things
not to say to people with depression (and why!) The first category of inappropriate comments
to say to a person with depression are remarks that minimize their mental illness. Common examples of this are phrases like:
‘But You Always Seem So Happy!’ Uh, not all symptoms of depression manifest
themselves as sadness. Also, plenty of people are capable of putting on
a happy face for others and internalizing their illness – because that’s just what mentally
ill people are forced to do to get through daily life. ‘Everyone Gets Depressed! We All Have Our
Bad Days!’ Yes, but it’s when bad days turn into bad
weeks and bad months and bad years that they become a problem. ‘Are You Sure It’s Not Just a Phase You’re
Going Through?’ If this eleven-year bout of depression and
anxiety is “just a phase,” then it sure has lasted longer than my high school trend
of falling for boys who think “bitch” is an acceptable word to use for women. And of course, the age-old… “There Are Starving Children in Africa – You
Have It So Easy’ Comments like this show a fundamental misunderstanding
of depression. It’s a paradox of sorts because these comments
simultaneously liken depression to something that is easy to get over and something that
only the most miserable and underprivileged people are allowed to experience. These comments minimize depression because
they suggest that you need an extreme life circumstance in order to truly be depressed,
when in reality, people from all walks of life and of all backgrounds struggle with
mental illness. These comments are also harmful because they
make depressed people feel incredibly guilty for not being mentally healthy. A common symptom of depression for many people
is feeling guilt because we don’t think they are allowed to feel this way. Many depressed
people recognize that their lives are more privileged than others’ and not having a
circumstantial reason to be depressed makes us feel even worse. One of my favorite types of comments to receive
are when people tell me fun and simple ways to “fix” my mental illness – as if it’s
easy to overcome, and I’m simply not trying hard enough. Comments like this include phrases like:
‘Try Not to Be So Negative – Just Focus on the Positive Stuff!’ and ‘Have You Tried Exercising/Eating Healthy/Socializing
More/Whatever?’ The problem with these types of comments is
that they treat symptoms of depression like they’re the main problem. It’s essentially like telling a person who has scraped their
knee, “Well, have you tried not bleeding?” The funny thing about depression is that it
makes it incredibly difficult to do the things we know we’re supposed to do, like exercising
or going out with friends. We understand these things might help us in the long run,
but when depression hits, it can make these things literally seem impossible. Comments like these may come from a good place,
but they are often more frustrating than they are helpful. Something that goes hand-in-hand with advice
for fixing mental illness is making unasked for comments about our disordered habits. Except instead of commenting on the things
you think we should be doing, you’re specifically pointing out the things we shouldn’t be
doing. These include comments like: ‘Your Room Is Such a Mess!’ ‘Why Do You Stay Up So Late/Sleep So Much?’ Your Grades Are Awful – At This Rate, You’re
Going to Fail Out of School.’ Most of the time, depressed people are already
hyper-aware of their disordered habits. For many people who suffer from depression, a
messy room or poor sleeping habits are a physical manifestation of the current state of their
mental health. I know, for me personally, when my depression
is bad, my sleep schedule is the first thing to suffer. Not only do I suffer from insomnia,
but I also tend to end up oversleeping the next day to make up for it. The poor sleep
habits in turn makes my depression worse, and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that
is incredibly difficult to break. However, I am probably more aware of this
than any of my friends or family members who feel the need to comment on it. I know that
these things are a problem, but by constantly bringing them up, it makes me feel like you’re
here to judge me rather than support me. Lastly, I think one of the most insidious and upsetting
type of comment that I receive are statements that blame depressed people for their mental
illness. These comments range anywhere from: ‘You’re Just Being Lazy’ to ‘You’re Using Your Depression as an Excuse
Not to Do Things’ and, of course, ‘Happiness Is a Choice – You’re Choosing
to Be This Way’ What makes these comments so harmful is that
a lot of depressed people already blame themselves for being depressed in the first place. In the United States, the idea that happiness
is something we choose is ingrained in us over and over again, everywhere from movies
to television to our Catholic middle school teachers. Looking at you, Mrs. Keith. When you say things like this, you’re basically
saying, “I know that you’ve told me you have a psychological disorder that you have little to no control
over, but I’m just gonna tell you to suck it up and get over it anyway!”
You wouldn’t tell a person with a disease of the body to “get over it,” so why would
you tell that to someone with a mental illness? Thank you for watching this video! If you enjoyed it then please give it a like and subscribe to this channel for more videos like this one. Also check out EverydayFeminism.com for more awesome articles, video, and comics that will help give you tools to learn more about social issues and to challenge everyday oppression. Last thing: this is completely voluntary but if you would like to help support this channel and Feminist Fridays then please consider donating to my Patreon page which will be linked below.

100 comments

  1. I see the point of your video but I would rather see a video that is structured with what your supposed to say and how your supposed to deal with these situations than just a one sided rant about everything people are doing wrong. Its perfectly normal for people to not understand what people are going through as no body can read minds or feel exactly how they feel, they can only go with what they see and what they know. I think its important to not completely blame people for not understanding what its like for depressed people but only help point out those areas like you stated then at the same time reinforce your advice with a more preferred direction to reduce the chances of any misunderstanding or harm and give them something to actually work with like how to be
    supportive etc. This video basicly tells anyone who genuinly wants to help those who they have concerns for to simply say nothing, don't give any advice and don't complain. So they will simply say what do we do then?

  2. I’m not diagnosed with depression but I do know that I always feel extremely down and upset and anxious and tense 24/7. I also know that I put on a happy exterior act in front of everyone because I don’t think anyone cares about me and my dumb problems. I don’t even know why I’m like this. I just want a hug every now and then but no one even knows because I’ve never told anyone. They all think I’m just annoying and clingy and need people but the reality is I just really want someone to talk to who won’t go prescribe me medicine or say “why don’t you go see a therapist”. It can’t be solved just like that. I just want someone to listen to me and cry with me and give me a hug and say it’s going to be ok… I just need someone to

  3. My “friend” always tries to one up me with my depression. Whenever I talk to her about what’s going on she goes “well I cut today so I wouldn’t be complaining” when she just doesn’t get it and she’s doing it for the attention because she openly tells people like strangers like “I self harm so don’t fuck with me”

  4. I always stay up late because when I try to fall asleep I start feeling terrible. But My parents get mad at me like I am doing it for no reason…

  5. I have got mild depression and I had it all of my life.I was born that way.I hate when others say those dumb things to me.I have been told by others in the past.

  6. My mom once told me that I should find what's making me sad and then "just change it"… It made me feel like crap

  7. Can you follow this up with ideas for how to effectively approach our fellow humans suffering, as opposed to what not to do? Is there anything you do want to hear? My default is "I'm sorry that your suffering, let me know what I can do/say." But I imagine that's fairly useless as well. If one knew the answer to that, they wouldn't be suffering. And, I know it's not my fault, so why am I apologizing? I have a spouse that has bouts. I gotta say, it's painful to watch someone I love in pain, just as it would be with any other disease. I also wish we had vocabulary that could separate depression from situational depression. Nice job on this topic. Thanks.

  8. I hate how my mother says you dont have a reason to be depressed BIHH DEPRESSION IS A SICKNESS NOT AN EMOTIONS

  9. Boy the school always assumes that I am depressed even though I am not. I appreciate how my school cares about me, but IT’S ANNOYING

  10. Bravo !! Suffering from severe depresión since more than a year i found this video wonderful and well spoken.. I will follow you more now Regards from Peru !

  11. I actually have alot a reasons to be depressed but my family doesnt believe they make me sad. Not to mention that I just have depression.

  12. Thank you. I've heard these things so much that I often tell them to myself and end up feeling worse. Right now it''s two weeks left in the semester and I've told myself dozens of times that I'm just using depression as an excuse, even though I'm sitting in my office completely paralyzed to do the things I need to do. It's amazing how we internalize these crappy things that people say to us. I appreciate you breaking them into categories so that I can recognize them when I'm thinking them or I hear other people say them.

  13. Every time I went to appointments with my psychiatrist, he always, like ALWAYS tells me the phrase 5 & 6. My dad even yelled at me for being like this. My mom keeps telling me to ask for helps from god. My sister keeps telling me to clean up my room.

  14. I've been fucking depress for 7 years until now, I opened up this year but not to my parents but my guidance counselor… I only opened up since I was getting worst, I was already hallucinating. I was scared at that time and very numb, I had a grudge on my whole family since I was little until now it only gets worst since they either never took my condition seriously or they just think it's normal and I'll get over it soon.

    Honestly, I'm tired of hearing things like "be happy, stay positive" or "don't let it consume you or you'll never be a winner" and I'm like jfc you have no idea what I've been through cut the bullshit and shut up, I always say that in my head… I admit it's hard for them to understand me since they don't know why I'm like this since I didn't tell them but I don't want to since I'll be the center of attention and get all the stupid remarks and 'concern' shit, I attempted suicide a lot of times but I didn't have the balls to do it until last time, I started to cut myself not because I wanted to die but I wanted myself to suffer and feel something since I was so numb at that time that I had to quit my dream…. It frustrates me so much…. Until now. I feel like I can't trust my family and I just wanna go…

  15. U know what I hate. Ppl always say I should talk to someone about my depression but me is like Naw ain't no one gonna understand. Well it's not bad if u don't talk to know one.

  16. And these are exactly the reasons, why I hide my depression from my parents.
    I went to therapy once, had a better episode, my mom thought I was ‚cured‘, it got worse again and now she just seems to have forgotten that I had and still have depression. She just comments on my sleep schedule telling me to sleep less, talks down on me when I have breakdowns etc. I don’t think she’s ever going to take me seriously. The worst thing is that she thinks she can just diagnose me, because she studies medicine. I think she maybe doesn’t notice i‘m depressed, because I don’t look like her patients with depression. I don’t know what to do):

  17. The problem is that people always have something to blame us for being depressed. And they are Always blaming us for some attitudes lack. Depression don't need any reason especially to get into our lives. Depression just invade our minds suddenly dishearten us.. and take away our desire to live..

  18. Been suffering from depression for years, finally got the courage to seek for professional help.
    Doc diagnosed that I am suffering from moderate depression, prescribed me with meds. She encouraged me to open up and start sharing with trusted friend(s).

    I did… and all I got was the exact 12comments that was mentioned in your video.
    I felt even worse, the only person that I chose to trust and share with gave me such response.
    I regret sharing with her and decided to continue shutting myself up.
    People don’t understand how much effort it takes for people suffering from depression to put on a fake smile or a fake laugh. How tiring it actually is, having to put on a mask that covers your emotion.
    How lost people could be not knowing why oneself should still be living ..
    How exhausted it is not able to control your own sleeping habits.

    Thank you for your video, to let me know that I’m not alone.
    Knowing it’s ok to be not ok.

  19. My boss once said "now, John here also has depression and anxiety, he still makes it to work everyday, why can't you?" he doesn't understand it doesn't affect everyone the same way.

  20. Omg my parents are always like just go out with "friends" think of happy things, stop staying in your room all day, my dad even told me I'm not depressed.

  21. Please help, I have a daughter who is depressed, I’m going to see the councillor she doesn’t want too… that’s ok, I just really want to help her. I do tell her I know you are feeling horrible right now but if you hang in their it will get better, I know it doesn’t feel that way now but it will. So any helpful advice anyone of you can give me would be wonderful, and I would be so grateful!!!! I just want to see the day that when she looks in the mirror she see the beautiful amazing smart girl I see.

  22. Depression Can Strike Anyone I Knew Someone With Depression His Brother Was A Clinical Phychologist With A PHD And All The Bastard Did Was Criticized And Bellitle Him And Depressed Him More AND Made Him Feel Like A Worthless Piece Of Shit

  23. Thank you…. great explination of the things that people say and don't understand the reality behind depression…

  24. Ive been depressed since I can remember and idk how to fix it. I isolate myself from the world, I don't socialize with anyone, I love being alone, and I freak out when I have to go outside my house. It wasn't too bad at first, but after my 2nd time in prison it just got so bad, I can barely maintain. I did 4 years in a 22 hour lockdown facility and I guess it might have messed with my mind. Maybe I got a little too comfortable with being alone and locked up that im doing it out here too. It sucks, and im thinking about suicide on a daily basis. Please, someone out there pray for me. Thank you…

  25. I really appreciate your videos, they are eye-opening and inclusive. Thank you for opening these dialogues on difficult topics.

  26. When they say happines is a choice i feel something snapping in my mind.Like yes, bravo.U figured it out.I am being suicidal and sad and feeling useless on my own will, of course.

  27. This really hit home. There are some encounters I had like that. I have been suffering for… a while? I don't even know when i started. Many people in my life are supportive and I really appreciate that. But some encounters stuck with me.
    One friend I'm not super close to who I told, I was going to see a therapist. He asked me how I was and I was too tired to lie, so I was kinda honest.

    Him, starting to interogate me: Okay so, have you been sleeping well? Do you exercise? Have you eaten healthy? When do you wake up in the morning?

    Like woah…

    Another time I was honest to two friends that were pretty close. I told them what I was going through and that I really hate myself, although I know I shouldn't. And one friend, who has been severly depressed and at one time anorexic in her life told me that maybe I just didn't know how other people perceive me. She said that maybe I just have to do something with my talents and achieve my goals in order to be happy.

    That dissapointed me a bit, since I thought she should know better. It's not it…

    The ones that hurt me the most is, when it comes from people I think would know better. When it comes from people who have been through things too. When they still make me feel not enough, even if they don't mean it. It's sad.

  28. I have a friend I feel like i can trust, but my feelings are fucked up, and I kinda want to tell them about my depression but idk…

  29. As a therapist, I appreciate your view. I also see the other side of depression. For example neurodevelopment and how important it is to work towards changing key chemicals in the brain and body to achieve a mindful and calm state. Striving for happiness will ultimately leave a person feeling anxious and depressed, but aiming for joy (the little choices to be okay moment by moment) can lead to hope. I have also battled Depression and suicide most of my life. I never thought I'd make it to 30… I'm learning to realize we are never meant to live on the mountain top, we find resilience and sustenance in the journey. Hang in there. You aren't alone.

  30. This is the shit I get put a paper brown bag over your sad , her face is sad , lol what's wrong with her face

  31. People called me stupid , retarded , idiot and dumb and say she hates school . My mum always gave out about my messy room . I mean my mum called me a nuisance

  32. I felt like a burden to my family and friends , I taught they be better off without me and I taught if I died girls would laugh or most of my school wouldn't care

  33. I lost interest in everything , my appretate , confidence , I cried alot , homework took up all of my time . I thought I was going to be that way forever

  34. I am afraid that people will judge me and give me commitments that will hurt me and think of me as a attention seeker so I never tell about my problem.

  35. How to deal with a depression boyfriend while his mother and sister dead in Feb 2019.. how to deal please share with something.

  36. Omg I have such an awful time in therapy sometimes when they would ask me how I feel and I was like I literally don't know how I feel right now. I'm not trying to be difficult, I just really don't know how to put it into words. I have to be feeling something really intensely so that it overpowers other thoughts for words to come to mind. Or someone else saying something has to trigger the thoughts and therefore the words kind of like a fishing line running through tubes in my head and the hook catching on something, the right thing… or it's like I have a bunch of diskettes filed away and it takes a long time to find the relevant information to give a response. Even just being asked BASIC information about myself like how old I am I have to "reach into a drawer and put a disk in". It's just not on my mind. I'm always doing something else in my head and I'm like uhhhhh like a floppy disk is spinning up before I can respond.

  37. Had all these said to me. All of them are so annoying. Also I hate it when I get told I need to tidy my room. I know I need to tidy my room. It goes through my mind every minute of the day and keeps me up at night cause I'm constantly stressing cause I know it needs doing but I just cant seem to do it! No matter how much I try. But nobody ever seems to understand ?

  38. Heh, wish I could send my parents this video. Unfortunately, I still live under their roof, and will until I get old enough to move out…maybe I’ll just text the link as I leave…?

  39. I still remember last year when i have to do a speech infront of my class for the score credit, my topic is about depression. After i was done with my speech, my teacher asked me is there anyone in my class who is having a depression ? I was hesitated to answer it bcs the fucking answer is me but then my classmate pointing out someone who they thought that they having a depression. What i don't like is they make it like a joke and laugh. Although i don't show my anger bcs i'm afraid that they gonna laugh on me so i just laugh a lil to their not-so-called a joke. That time yes i'm having the worst episode of depression but everyone just don't have any idea about it bcs i was always show to them that i'm okay. Now my life is getting better but still i'm not that okay yet. Hoping you guys having a great day ?

  40. I just tried to tell my friends about my depression today .. It did NOT go well they just said that I was probably lying and that I’m “ too happy and cheerful to be depressed “ . I tried to explain to them that even though I seem happy I am not always like that and they just said that I’m doing it for attention and just pretended like what they said probably didn’t matter to me but it really did and now I have NO IDEA what to do .

  41. Very interesting, I have a love one in my life suffering from depression. And I would like to know what would be some of the safest things to say or ask if we want to help this person.

  42. I need to say this but I don't know if it matters

    One time when I was depressed it was sports day at school and the way I felt was just nothing. I felt like had no control, no emotions, no one who loved me, no one cared for me, it was like all of that (and more) was draining my hope, happiness and energy from me. Instead it was just giving me negative thoughts and worries and all this feelings. And when we lost a match, I felt like everything's was my fault. To this day I still think about it and remember how I felt. If someone has read this far, thank you for being so patient to read someone's nonsense for a few seconds, minutes, I don't know but thank you 🙂

  43. I had a total mental breakdown and finally went to my mom, and the next day it was like nothing ever happened

  44. I do not understand how they turn on you when you have always been there for them. They tend to act mad around you, then say "you depress me" why ? "Oh you spend wisely, always so careful, how whatever happens you just pick up and carry on" Well, yes I do, always have…….there see…….you depress me Jeepers ! !

  45. The ones I hate are "so many have it worse than you" and, "This is partly your fault" Yeah, thanks, that puts it in perspective, let me just stop crying and suck it up because I brought this upon my self and I am so selfish. Aughhh!

  46. 2:39 I've had some rough experiences but people say that it has to be worse in order to have your pain validated. Like sexual abuse for eight years wasn't enough to make me depressed, traumatized, and anxious. Let alone suicidal… ??

  47. Can someone please tell me what would you like to hear or what would you like from other person to do when you're sad or depressed? I personally think that the best thing is just to hug/hold that person, but I really want to hear what someone who suffers from that has to say❤

    • sry if I wrote something wrong, I'm not from English-speaking zone

  48. I’ve had depression since fourth grade I was in science class when medicine came up while working I said I take fish oil and vitamin c then one of the kids said but there’s the sun you don’t need pills I told her do you have depression no so please tell how and why my mental state is broken she was silent

  49. As a depressed kid i can definitely tell you i have heard these one thing i have heard alot "people have it so much worse than you" and it makes me think that they think my life is amazing and i dont "get" to be depressed its very annoying because you dont know whats going on in my mind you dont know me like i know myself its just so dumb especially if their life was worse than mine that makes them think i have it easy

    Yes i have great parents and great siblings but i still have problems that make me depressed i feel like this is one of the most common things we hear and its annoying

  50. I wish this was around when i was a kid i had (and still do) depresion no one would believe me when i told them "i have depresion and want to die" until one of my friends came to my house randomly and saw me about to slit my neck

  51. Omg fr I always feel horrible for being depressed cuse ppl r like this!!! I dont wanna call it depression tho… but yh I do get told these things and have these symptoms especially the sleep, I just never sleep tho.

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