If someone you know and care about has depression or is currently depressed, figuring out what to say to them can be hard. You want to tell them you’re there for them but you are probably worried about saying the wrong thing. There are a lot of suggestions out there on what not to say, but not so many on what you should say. Here are the best things to say to someone you know who has depression.
“You’re right, that is hard”
No matter what has caused someone to be depressed or have depression chances are they just want someone to sympathize with them. They don’t want solutions or someone to come in and try to fix their problems. That is up to them or their mental health professional. As a family member, partner or friend the best thing you can do for them is listen, have empathy and acknowledge what they’re feeling.
“I’m here if you need me”
Depression is incredibly isolating. It makes people feel like no one can understand what they’re going through. By simply telling them that you’re there for them you’re reminding them that they’re not alone and that they are loved. It also reminds them that people in their life do love them even if they can’t always see that.
“I believe in you”
If someone suffers from depression they might have given up hope about their future. They might not have any self-esteem left. By you reaffirming that you believe in them and by boosting their self-esteem, you can help them see hope. They might not always feel awesome, but having someone that cares about them reminding them that they are to you is immensely helpful.
“How can I help?”
Depression sucks away a person’s motivation to do things. By offering to help you’re not trying to fix their problems but you’re still helping them out. Maybe they need help with errands or dishes. You should only offer to help though if you’re willing to do what they ask of you.
“I’m here if you want to (talk, eat, yoga, shop etc.)”
A direct suggestion of something you know they’re interested in or like doing are more likely going to motivate them to go alone. A general suggestion will usually have them agreeing only to back out later. A direct suggestion of an activity is a great nudge to get them up, dressed and doing something.
“This is only temporary”
If someone has depression or is depressed it’s easy to lose perspective on the situation. They probably feel like it will never end. Depression feels like you’re lost in endless dark with no light at the end. Reminding them that nothing, including this, is permanent will help them feel hopeful again.