Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions globally, with over 270 million adults living with depression. Source
It is often characterized by poor concentration, excessive guilt or low self-worth, hopelessness about the future, suicidal thoughts, changes in appetite or weight, and feeling especially tired or low in energy.
Knowing how to speak and what to say to a depressed person can go a long way to helping them feel better about themselves. It may feel awkward at first, but don’t be too emotional or dramatic; only try to communicate from a place of understanding and acceptance.
So, what do you say to someone suffering from depression?
What to say to someone who is depressed
1. “Do you need to talk about your depression? I’m here when you’re ready.”
Although you cannot force the person to speak, they may feel more open to talking if they know you’re there for them.
If you haven’t spoken to that person in a long time or haven’t told you about their mental state, you can say that you heard they are going through a difficult time and that you are available if they need to talk.
2. “What can I do to help today?”
Depression often causes fatigue, sleep disorders, and lack of motivation. Sometimes, just getting out of bed can be a challenge.
Inquiring about what to do for depressed individuals can go a long way to helping them function at their best.
If they are not feeding well, you can offer to get them food, or they may need you to call them in the morning to make sure they get to work on time. At other times, you have to listen.
The help does not imply that you have to make a drastic and tiring effort, and it could be as simple as picking up the phone, sharing a meal, sending helpful mental health quotes, or taking them to a meeting.
Sometimes, your friend or family member may be reluctant to accept your help for fear of becoming a burden to you. Be sure to clarify that it is not a bother and that you want to help the same way you know they would.
Additionally, in a case where the individual is extremely discouraged and does not know what to ask of you, you can make suggestions like:
- Do you need help with the house?
- Do you want me to do some shopping?
- Would you like me to keep you company for a while?
- Do you need me to take you to see the psychologist?
3. “You are important to me.”
It is always great to know that people love and value you. However, if a person is depressed, he always feels the opposite. So it is necessary to affirm your love for them and tell them they mean much to you.
You can be more specific and mention what you admire the most about them or how much you appreciate them for something they did.
4. “How are you dealing with depression? It sounds like a very difficult thing.”
The purpose of this question is so that the individual recognizes that you know how challenging the condition is. Acknowledging how severe depression can be and its symptoms can help them feel visible.
Therefore, it is good to remind them that you are aware of their struggles and you are there to help them cope.
5. “Can I help you find help?”
While we cannot control or heal someone going through a depressive episode, we can encourage them to seek help.
Achieving this can be difficult as depression drains all energy and motivation. Thus, making an appointment or finding a psychologist can seem daunting to the depressed patient.
6. “How are you coping with your depression?”
This phrase can give you a clue about how the individual is handling the situation or if they need help getting professional assistance.
Asking how the individual is faring with treatments can also encourage them to stick with it. Additionally, commend them on their improvements when you notice any changes; this can help validate their efforts, even if they often don’t feel that way.
Note: Depression is a medical condition; it has nothing to do with a defect or a weakness.
If you know someone depressed, encourage them to see a professional if they haven’t yet done so. Remind them that seeking help is a sign of courage, not weakness.
7. “You are not alone. Maybe I can’t understand exactly how you feel, but I’m with you.”
Depression often makes people feel lonely and misunderstood, so they isolate themselves. Through your actions, show that they are not alone. Show commitment to them, even if you’ve never had a similar personal experience.
If you’ve battled depression first-hand, you can share that you know what they are going through; this can help strengthen the bond between you.
Keep the focus on that person: remember that the most important thing is to LISTEN.
Some symptoms of depression to watch out for
If left untreated, depression can escalate dramatically, leading to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Therefore, you must recognize some signs of depression to help depressed victims.
The most common symptoms of depression are;
- Drastic changes in mood or personality.
- Talk about death or the possibility of dying.
- Increase substance use/abuse.
- Risky behaviors.
- Getting rid of belongings or giving away prized possessions.
- Talking about feeling trapped or needing to find an escape route.
- Pushing people away and wanting to be alone.
- Saying goodbye to people using more sentimental words.
Depression can be overwhelming and lead to terrible outcomes. You can help depressed patients by constantly listening and interacting with them.
If you think the person is considering self-harm or suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline 800-273-8255.