What to say when someone says they are depressed

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

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English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Phrases worth saying to a depressed person

A depressed person or in a long-term depressed state requires a special attitude and a special way of communication from us. The form in which we address the sufferer plays a crucial role in this case. Coping with your condition is often impossible alone, and if you really want and are ready to help your loved one, use the hint, it's not so difficult!

1. Is there anything I can do to ease your condition? nine0006

Showing something is not the same as just saying something. Words are not all that can help a depressed person. As a rule, any offer that comes as a "lifeline" is more like a "magic kick". Organic apples? Yoga? All of them are perceived in approximately the same way: "You do something terrible in life, and it's your fault."

What will be much more comfortable to hear from a loved one or friend when you can’t live actively on your own, for example, an offer to help clean the house or an invitation to a cozy restaurant (specific name, date) for lunch or dinner. This may sound like a pampered, self-absorbed child, but don't be afraid to wish such suggestions for those who struggle with the hormones of sadness. Why not help a person in this difficult struggle? nine0003

2. What do you think might help you feel a little better?

In many ways adults remain like small children; If you tell your child to stop eating Skittles because they give you those nasty pimples on your cheeks, it probably won't stop him from stuffing another six in his mouth. This wording of the question leaves a person free to decide on his own. It’s as if you are turning to his “inner assistant”, who in fact always knows what is best. nine0003

3. Is there anything I can do for you?

Again, as in the first point, effective communication is not just said, but done. Even if the crying person just silently shakes his head in response to your question, I assure you: he will hear your offer, and it will already become some support in itself.

4. Can I give you a lift somewhere?

Few people know that depressed people are bad drivers. In fact, they are VERY bad drivers. Medical staff can confirm that driving style can be a good diagnostic of mood disorders. So, perhaps your help can be important not only for a depressed loved one, but also for other people on the road. nine0003

5. Where do you find the most support?

There is a big difference between "Why don't you join a psychotherapy group for depression?" and “You need support. Let's find out what it could be." Do not let your questions sound like an accusation of laziness.

6. You won't always feel this way.

This is the perfect phrase that I would like to hear fifty times a day when I was ready to get out of this world forever. These words do not blame, do not pressure, do not manipulate. What they do is give hope, which keeps a person alive and motivates him to wait for the next day. nine0003

7. What do you think contributed to your depression?

This is a very mild form of expression for the thought: "Your marriage is absolutely destructive to you, you fool!" or “Don’t you think that your witch colleague is too often in a bad mood and pushes you for nothing?” It is better that a person even by the method of "poke" come to some kind of his own conclusions. In addition, in the future, this will deprive him of a reason to lay responsibility for the negative consequences of some of his actions on you. nine0003

8. What time of the day is the hardest for you?

This is one of the best questions. Most often, depression is especially felt in the morning, upon awakening (“Oh, horror, I'm still alive”), and between about three and four in the afternoon, when the level of sugar in the body drops and the level of anxiety rises sharply. The person does not immerse you in the details of his blues, but simply indicates when he needs additional participation and support.

9. I'm here for you. nine0006

It's easy. It's warm. And this means at once everything that a person needs to hear from you: I care about you, I accept it; I can't fully understand your condition, but I love and support you.

10. Nothing.

This is perhaps the most difficult. Because we are used to filling silence, it frightens with a seeming emptiness. Frightened by emptiness, we begin to talk about anything, even the weather. It's also important to be able to listen. Listening to a person, you take what he gives you, and for a depressed person it is already a lot to give something to someone. Sometimes just listening carefully to what you are being told means more than understanding the content. Because full attention is a priceless thing that can work wonders. nine0003

Based on contributions from Teresa Borschard, who suffers from chronic depression and author of the project and book Beyond Blues: Escape Depression and Anxiety and Harness the Best of the Bad Genes. ( Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes )
( http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/beyondblue/ )

Every week, Takie Dela answers questions from readers. Today we will talk about depression, or rather, how to be a good friend for a person who finds himself in this state. nine0068


Approximately one in four has experienced depression at least once in their life. Although sometimes we, wringing our hands, call depression just an attack of bad mood. It is necessary to distinguish between blues, a mild depressive state (minor depression, subdepression) and a real clinical depression, which can drag on for several months.

Clinical depression is characterized by three main symptoms:

  • Bad mood. But not the kind that usually happens after a hard day or week. With depression, a person loses the ability to rejoice, does not enjoy the usual things - food, communication with friends, sex, music, films. This condition is called anhedonia. nine0085
  • Violation of thinking. It is difficult for a depressed person to think, it seems that thoughts are “like jelly”. Work is slower.
  • Motor retardation. Depression is always accompanied by a constant feeling of fatigue. Forcing yourself to go somewhere in this state is extremely difficult.

If these symptoms are observed for more than a month, then this is a reason to see a doctor, but you can cope with mild depression on your own, with the help of relatives and psychotherapy. But relatives should remember a few simple rules - what to do, and what should never be said. That's what psychologists recommend. nine0003

Let the person experience this state

Let's say your loved one experienced a failure, his expectations were not realized, his plans were not realized. He is very upset, he is not happy with what he usually loves. Don't rush him. Say phrases: “Yes, stop thinking about it!” or “We need to move forward!” - it is forbidden. The state of sadness is not so bad for a person. Sadness allows you to relax a little after the race that was before, to come to your senses, to rethink, so that after that you can smoothly get out of this state. nine0003

Be honest

“Yes, you didn’t reach your goal, but let’s take a break and try again if you want to, no, then you can try something else.”

Do not discount failure

Phrases: “Forget it”, “Stop it”, “Your failures mean nothing” will only make things worse. A person can and should learn from his failures a lesson. It just takes time.

Recognize the importance of this situation

“Yes, you tried, it didn't work, but it's important that you did it! The feelings you are experiencing right now are very important. Sadness, loss of strength - all this is natural, but I am there and will help you. nine0003

Be careful with jokes

Do not joke rudely, scoff, ironically over the situation. Of course, it’s hard when a person close to you is in a bad mood, you want him to smile, and not go gloomy. It may seem that if you joke and make fun of the situation, then he will immediately cheer up and everything will immediately go smoothly. But it will most likely only get worse. Any rude intrusion, criticism will prevent you from getting out of a depressive state.

Don't force

Forcibly dragging a person to parties and walks in a depressed state is strictly prohibited. The mistake is that when we see a depressed person, we want to give him the energy of life. We say: "Look how great it all is!" But a person is simply not physically able to appreciate it. When he sees how people enjoy life, this only worsens his condition, he begins to wonder: "Why can't I do that?"

No aggression

Seeing that a person closes even more, in no case should one speak aggressively: “Why are you still in anguish?”, “Why are you sitting and being sad?”, “Pull yourself together, rag!” Such phrases are forbidden even as a joke.

Be patient

Do not do anything excessive, be more restrained and calm. But if the condition of a person close to you does not improve within a month, this is a reason to contact a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. Perhaps we are talking about clinical depression, which must be treated with medication. nine0003

Help get rid of the fear of specialists

Many patients with clinical depression are afraid to go to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.

Learn more