6 Awful Things You Should Never Say To Someone Who Is Depressed

It's not always easy to say the right thing.

depressed man hikrcn / Shutterstock

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide. That's a lot of people. This means that if YOU are not depressed, chances are you know someone who is.

The terrible misconception that people have regarding depression is that it's just "the blues." Luckily, you have me to tell you that the blues are FAR different than depression.

RELATED: How You Act When You're Feeling Depressed, According To Your Zodiac Sign


As someone who is diagnosed with clinical depression, here are just some of the symptoms and signs of depression that I endure during an episode:

  • Exhaustion: It doesn't matter if I slept for 18 hours the night before, my whole body goes into sleep mode; not because I'm tired, but because I feel I need to escape the world and sleeping is the only safe way to do so.
  • Feelings of worthlessness: Ever get a bad job performance review and feel really bad? But then you go out for drinks with your pals and you realize you'll just work harder and do better next time? In my head, when I feel I've gotten a bad review, it's based on my depression and the thoughts that manifest as a result. Except it's not just my job performance, but every aspect of my life.
  • Muscle aches and nausea: Some people don't realize that a mental illness can produce physical symptoms. I get full body aches as if I have the flu. It sucks. The vomiting does, too. 
  • Headaches: Anyone who has dealt with true depression knows "brain fog." Basically, it feels like everything in your head is in black and white, nothing feels clear, and it literally feels like a fog.
  • Pressure in the chest: Ever have to carry a ton of bricks without any help? That's what it feels like, but on my chest. It makes breathing difficult, for sure.

If you're ever in a situation where you need to comfort a loved one suffering from depression, here are a few things you should never say to them, and what help you can offer instead:

1. "It's all in your head."

There's a reason it's called mental illness. And by someone telling us it's in our head, it just perpetuates the stigma that our pain is not real.


Instead, say: "I'll give you the time you need but know that I'm here if you want to vent."

It helps a lot to know that we have someone to unload our feelings on that won't be judgmental. People with mental illness already feel crazy, and if we confide in the wrong person, it only makes the condition worse.

2. "You're not the only one with problems."

This is the WORST possible thing to say. Chances are, we're feeling pretty crappy as it is. By telling us that our illness is nothing compared to others only makes us feel that more worthless.

Instead, say: "If you're ready to chat, we can go through some stuff you're depressed about and break them down so they don't seem so scary."


RELATED: Signs Your Depression Is Getting More Serious (And It's Time To Reach Out)

All too often, the spiraling that occurs during depression can feel overwhelming. Having someone to talk to and break down each strand of concern can help clear your loved one's mind. But don't push it if they're not ready to speak. It's hard to talk some days.

3. "You need to exercise."

Though it has been scientifically proven that exercise helps your mood, sometimes it's impossible to even get out of bed, let alone hop on a treadmill.

Instead, say: Nothing.

Seriously, if all you have to offer is a suggestion to do what feels impossible during a depressive episode, it's best to stay quiet.


4. "Be positive!"

My usual sarcastic response that I always wanted to say is, "Wow, thanks for that! I had no idea all I had to do was think happy thoughts to cure my depression. What would I have done without you?" But I usually just go with a nod, because why even bother?

Instead, say: "I care about you."

Because if you truly do care about your loved one, letting them know can make a world of difference.

5. "I was sad when I did XYZ, but I got over it and you will, too!"

People get sad from time to time, it's human nature. But depression is a completely different beast, so don't even pretend to know what I'm feeling.

Instead, say: "I may not know what you're going through, but I will be by your side through it all if you want me to be."


It's all about boundaries, people! There are some episodes when you need loved ones close by to feel secure. Then there are the other times when you need to hide in a pillow fort in your bed for a day because your body needs a CNTRL-ALT-DLT on life.

6. "I'm sick of your whining."

If you say that to someone who is experiencing signs of depression, then you need to re-evaluate how you feel about that person. Part of loving someone is accepting that they will go through hard times and if you're sick of their whining, maybe they don't need you as a friend.

Instead, say: NOTHING! Give them a big old hug.


Sometimes the best comfort is silence. And seriously, for all that is holy in this world, do NOT complain how annoying they are.

RELATED: Anxiety And Depression Are Symptoms, Not Diseases

Liza Walters is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture, and relationship topics. She has been featured in Today, BUST Magazine, Ravishly, and more. You can follow her on Twitter.