We all either know someone that is struggling with or we are someone that is struggling with depression. Personally, I know my mom struggles with depression. I’ve had moments in my life where I struggled with depression and found myself in a hole so deep, that I didn’t know what to do. There are more than things that can be added to this list, but these are some of the biggest things that we need to stop saying to those struggling with depression. I know that I’ve said this to people, I’ve even said it to myself. It didn’t help me when I said it to myself, and I know it didn’t help those I said it to. Depression is something that can either be medical, emotional, or even spiritual. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause we need to treat those that deal with depression with understanding and love.
There are more than 6 things we should never say to a depressed person by here are 6 things I suggest we should never say to someone who is depressed.
Snap out of It
Really, this is no help at all. I would rather ask them “What’s going on? Is there something I can do or do you just need someone to listen?” To suggest that they can simply snap out of it is to assume what they are going through can be overcome with the snap of your fingers and this is not likely possible. It also sends the wrong message to someone that what they’re feeling is not that bad or it’s something that they can just their turn around in their mind immediately and this is hardly ever the case.
You’re Just Feeling Sorry for Yourself
This may or may not be true but stating it like that is a very cold thing to say. It puts the problem onto them and may even make their situation worse. Then they may start to blame themselves for the way they’re feeling and it might actually be a medical condition that can be treated. One of the greatest strengths my friends have are that they don’t judge me too quickly and they are very good listeners. Sometimes people who are depressed just need someone that will listen to them and take their feelings seriously and not blame them for the way that they are feeling.
Quote Romans 8:28
This Bible verse, like all Bible verses, is true and it says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” and even though we know that this is true, Paul was not writing this to someone who is undergoing depression. He was writing this to the church at Rome because many there were being persecuted, imprisoned, and had their property confiscated by the state. We know that everything in life does work out for our best, including the bad things, but to quote this verse is to take it out of context and in a sense, accuse someone of not believing this verse. At least that’s the way I’ve seen it used before.
It Could be Worse
Yes, it could be worse but by telling them that, you might actually make it worse. It could be better too but when you tell someone that it could be worse you are basically saying that “You think it’s bad now…it could be a lot worse” and that’s the last thing they really need to hear, isn’t it? For them, at this moment, it is worse for them and they don’t need to hear that it could be worse and to state what they are feeling now could be a lot worse doesn’t help them in the present situation that they find themselves in so I would certainly avoid saying this.
You Think You’ve Got it Bad?
When we say “You think you’ve got it bad…listen to what happened to me” this makes them feel that what you went through or are going through is nothing compared to what they are feeling right now and we just don’t know that. It’s like people comparing scars…“You think that’s a bad scar, look at mine.” It becomes a contest between your feelings and theirs and you obviously win and this makes them feel that they’re in competition with you or that what you’ve been through is nothing compared to what they are going through or what they went through at one time. This very well might make them feel that what they are going through is not justified and besides, we really don’t know what they are going through because only God can see into the human heart (1st Sam 16:7). Only they know exactly what they’re going feeling and that’s a very good reason to ask them “Do you want to talk about it?” If not, just sit with them and be still. Focus on them and not on you.
I Know How you Feel
Part of this subject was covered in the previous paragraph but I wanted to mention it specifically because we don’t ever know what another person is feeling or thinking. At least precisely we don’t. All we know is that they are depressed and for whatever reason that is, we cannot know with exactness of it. I would never tell someone that I know how they feel because honestly, I don’t. I might make an educated guess but every one of us reacts differently to situations that come into our life. Some people are more sensitive, some are oversensitive, and others might have more baggage in their life and we don’t know their life story.
I think we all suffer from depression from time to time and we have seasons of melancholy but when this season goes on for extended periods of time, it might be time to tell the person who’s depressed that maybe they should go and see a doctor. Even offer to go with them. Many times this is simply a medical condition that can be treated. Medications can address certain brain chemical imbalances and this doesn’t mean that someone has a character flaw or that there’s something inherently wrong with them. The Bible says we’re frail, feeble, and made of dust (Psalm 103:14) and we all need help at times. We need to show compassion and care for someone who’s going through a “dark night of the soul” because we might be the one to go through this sort of depression next time and we wouldn’t want someone to tell us to snap out of it, stop feeling sorry for yourself, quote a Bible verse, tell them it could be worse, or “You think you’ve got it bad,” or I know how you feel. Focus on them, listen to them, be their friend; even if you have to sit in silence.
Article by Jack Wellman