Hey there, my name’s Danny Baker – I’m the author of I Will Not Kill Myself, Olivia and I’m on a crusade to help take depression from something that the average person has “heard about, but doesn’t really get” to something that is understood by the masses.
To further this objective, I wrote the following list of the 10 best and worst things you can say to someone with depression, and the reasons why you should or shouldn’t say them.
1. Depression isn’t real. At the end of the day, this is just plain ignorant. Depression is a serious illness that can affect every aspect of a person’s life. To belittle it in this way can be extremely offensive.
2. Just get over it. People don’t enjoy being depressed. If they could just “get over it,” then they would.
3. You have a mental illness? Then you must be crazy! Again, this is extremely ignorant. Mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses – you treat them and get better. Having depression does not make someone crazy.
4. I know how you feel. This is OK if you have suffered from depression and you actually do know how the person feels. But if you haven’t, it can be really annoying.
5. We all have bad days now and then. Depression is far more than just a “bad day”. It is a serious illness that can be life-threatening.
6. You can’t be depressed – there are so many people in the world who are worse off than you. This is equivalent to saying “you can’t be happy, because there are so many people in the world who are better off than you!” Everyone is entitled to their happiness, in the same way that everyone is entitled to their pain.
7. It’s all in your head. This just isn’t helpful, and can come across as very dismissive.
8. Look how lucky you are. Again, depression is an illness. “Lucky” people can suffer too. It is entirely possible to be very conscious of how “lucky” you are but at the same time feel miserably suicidal.
9. Just think positive. Even the most positive people in the world can fall victim to depression. This point goes back to that whole “depression is an illness” thing. Anyone can fall victim – positive people included.