Best Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed

Image: Day by Edward Robert Hughes
Day by Edward Robert Hughes

It is most tempting, when you find out someone is depressed, to attempt to immediately fix the problem. However, until the depressed person has given you permission to be their therapist (as a friend or professional), the following responses are more likely to help.

The things that didn’t make me feel worse are words which 1) acknowledge my depression for what it is (No ‘it’s just a phase’) 2) give me permission to feel depressed (No ‘but why should you be sad?’)

Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d.:

1. “I love you!”

2. “I Care”

3. “You’re not alone in this”

4. “I’m not going to leave/abandon you”

5. “Do you want a hug?”

6. “I love you (if you mean it).”

7. “It will pass, we can ride it out together.”

8. “When all this is over, I’ll still be here (if you mean it) and so will you.”

9. “Don’t say anything, just hold my hand and listen while I cry.”

10. “All I want to do know is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on..”

11. “Hey, you’re not crazy!”

12. “May the strength of the past reflect in your future.”

13. “God does not play dice with the universe.” – A. Einstein

14. “A miracle is simply a do-it-yourself project.” – S. Leek

15. “We are not primarily on earth to see through one another, but to see one another through” – (from someone’s sig)

16. “If the human brain were simple enough to understand, we’d be too simple to understand it.” – a codeveloper of Prozac, quoted from “Listening to Prozac”

17. “You have so many extraordinary gifts–how can you expect to live an ordinary life?” – from the movie “Little Women” (Marmee to Jo)

18. “I understand your pain and I empathize”

19. “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself so you don’t need to worry that your pain might hurt me.”

20. “I listen to you talk about it, and I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. I just can’t imagine how hard it must be.”

21. “I can’t really fully understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.”

22. “You are important to me.”

23. “If you need a friend….. (and mean it)”

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68 Comments

  1. Here’s a question. Looking for help on this… My neighbor, who is 79 and weighs about 90lbs wet, has a daughter about 50 who is depressed all of the time. Her daughter sleeps and eats so much that her muscles no longer cooperate to even get her out of bed to go to the restroom or to stand herself up. If the daughter falls, EMS has to be called because her mom can’t lift her. I would love to talk to her daughter – however, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be delicate with my words to get her daughter to realize the burden she has place on her mother and not helping herself. Looking for any guidance… Her mom says she is on anti-depressant (not sure what kind), but it appears to me its not working. Just want a way to wake her daughter up and want to start helping herself. Welcome ANY ADVICE.

  2. I have a really great friend who is suffering from mega depression she is cutting herself and feels a need to die she sees no point on earth anymore and me and her other friend are the only things she’s living for and I’ve tried to starve myself so I know how it feels but yet I don’t know what to do to help her in her time of need. Can someone please help me and tell me what to do

  3. My partner has depression and I find when his sad he says comments to me as if he’s having ago at me when im trying to make him happy it feels like I’m the problem and it makes me feel down not sure what to say or do at the moment feeling down myself !!!

  4. my gf is in depression she often talk about suicide.
    she asks me to help her. she asks me to do something
    she says tht i dont know what to say u need to get tht things out of me what i need to say.
    she is frustrated n i m the only person bcoz of whom she is alive plz help

  5. i need a help!
    my bf is really depressed, depressed because of me :(. he loved me since 2011 but i didnt understood him, i kept on rejecting and ignoring him. but now when i love him he just keeps on remembering past and becomes sad.
    he is afraid that I’ll leave him again, he will lose me again.
    what should I do?
    what should I tell him to make him happy?
    please help me

    1. Hey…am touched by this and it really saddens..you should be there for him all time..that gives him assurity that you aint leaving him..don just tell him..that won’t help alot..actions speak louder..cuddle him..just be closer to him…that way I’d feel it…make it flow out of you..like don’t fake or false it..

  6. You know how in the winter, when it’s really, really cold, and you feel like you’ll never be hot again? And then summer comes around, and you’re really, really hot, that you feel like you’ll never be cold again? Well, that’s that same thing with emotions. When you’re really, really happy, you feel like you’ll never be sad again. And then, you get really, really sad, and you feel like you’ll never be happy again. That might be how you feel right now. But I’m telling you, that it gets better. There will be times when you’re unbelievably sad, or unbelievably happy, and you can’t do anything about it. But life is just like that. You’ll be sad. You’ll be happy. That’s just the way it goes. But I promise you, it’ll get better.

  7. worst feeling is you cant make anyone understand how you feel exactly.. because you dont know how to express yourself

  8. What I meant to say was…

    I want to meet Skrillex. I’m 15 and he’s 28 but I have a crush on him. Seriously. I just wish he was my age again. He was born on January 15, 1988 and I was born on June 10, 2000. I am a 9th grader at East Junior High. I’m also a depressed person with autism, and I have to say, the reason why I’m depressed is because I live on 1722 Broxon Street, but me, my parents and sister are moving right out of the house and moving to a house that’s really close to my school.

  9. Another good thing to do/say is to remind them that they have a right to do what they want, but also are encouraged to love themselves. Let me repeat- don’t tell anyone that they MUST be happy, but remind let them know that they’re allowed to.

    Also, things like “You don’t have to be alone through this; I care,” are good, because people want to hear that what they want is valid.

    Again, please don’t ever tell someone “don’t be sad.” Make sure they understand that their feelings are valid and important and (if you mean it) that you WILL be with them through it all, no matter what. Hope this helps ~

  10. The most important things you can do.

    A: BE CONSTANT! Many people are depressed and have had loved one after loved one walk out on them because they can’t handle it. DON’T BE ANOTHER ONE ON THE LIST!

    B: SHUT UP ONCE IN A WHILE! Alow them a time to speak THEIR mind without your input or judgement.

    And C: TELL THEM YOU LOVE/CARE/ARE HERE FOR THEM OFTEN AND PROVE IT! Your words don’t mean shit unless you back them up with strong actions and prove to them that you’re there to stay. I say to tell them “often” because they do forget (not really that they forget, but more that they lose sight of the fact that you love and care about them). They figure you’re going to be like another one of the dozens of people in their life who turned their backs on them and never came back. So all you gotta do is prove them wrong and STAY.

  11. I’m realizing just now… at 25 years old,
    I am suffering from daily self-doubt, Depression. I think it may also involve some PTSD that I’ve suffered.

    I feel like when my mom approaches me and asks me something… I automatically explode…It sets me offtune. And I later feel terrible. She is an amazing woman. But because she sees me as a failure, I tend to rebel on her kindness… I’ve told her to please read on how to speak to people with depression…she tries, I think. but I don’t feel like its genuine. I think she feels like I need to ” just get over it” and that’s what hurts me the most 🙁

    I need to seek further councelling ~

  12. I’m at a loss with my daughter, proberly because it hurts so much to see her like that, I’m a depression survivor so I do know how dark it can be….
    But she asked with venom “how long do I have to put up with this s***” all I could tell her was “as long as it takes love” 🙁
    And now I’m on the receiving end of the anger and frustrations, and saying all the wrong things 🙁 but I will still be here for as long as it takes. Along with her wonderful, suffering girlfriend.

  13. My son has finally told us he had been feeling this way for years and has been keeping it all inside….worries about everything ….

  14. It was so cool.thank you four sympathy for others.My daughter is depressed and I found good and useful statements to help her.
    Regards

  15. I agree with a lot of these statements and they are uplifting in a lot of ways.

    Here are the ones that gave me anxiety and made me more depressed reading:

    13: as much as I love Albert Einstein God and his many quotes it just made me sadder. It’s like saying to someone you were meant to be depressed. If maybe you explained that maybe this will make you a stronger person that’d be better

    14: depressed people are overwhelmed. I wouldn’t say the words do it yourself project unless you were trying to invite them to a pottery class.

    18. It contradicts 20 and I like 20 way better.

    Other than that I agree with everything :). Reading other people’s comments I have a few other suggestions.
    -don’t talk about God even if the person is religious. Just don’t. It will cause confusion and anxiety to some
    -I love this person who said when they’re depressed they crash and nothing helps I GET YOU. It’s true. Sometimes just being there and waiting with them for the storm to pass can help to. Space can be important but not too much space.
    – That’s why if you want to say something be careful. If you can tell them they can call any time and listen and follow the list except for the ones I discluded and I feel like you’d be alright for a moderately depressed person.
    -if someone doesn’t accept a hug don’t take it personally.
    Will think of more later

  16. i have a girlfriend that i have been dating for 7 months now.. she has been dealing with depression and i really dont know what to say.. yesterday we are talking and she was opening up to me on how she was feeling, she was telling me she hasnt been feeling like she should be living anymore she thinks noone loves her or care for her. i love her i try to show her my affection by bringing her lunch when she asks asking her how she feels, asking her why she feels this way i ask her what should i do to help her or what does she want to hear from me.. like i love you or how beautiful she looks today. ive myself been depressed but i always found a way to leave that feeling behind i tried to tell her to do something she likes most to stop thinking about the negative in her life and start thinking about ALL the positive she has done, i dont know if these are the rigth words but im hoping they are if anyone can please respond to me so i can make sure im being the support system she does need or if i am wording my words the wrong way.. thank you for this page the words on here are the ones im going to try and use for her for now on so she feels the love i have for her or feels that she can come to me ANYTIME with no embarrasment.. even though sometimes shes so hostile with me and she gets so so so so so so so upset with me when my words arent the ones she wants to hear but i try not to take it personal.. thank you again !

  17. These are actually wrong, if any of these phrases cheer you up, you’re sad, not depressed, depression can’t be treated with affirmations, and treating them like they’re sick or vulnerable will only push them away or cause them to commit suicide, if they are truly in depression the best thing you can do is treat them normal and try to take them out.

  18. If u have a girlfriend or wife who is depressed you should tell them this “Every time I look at you I feel like my heart is fixed I feel wanted just like I want you I love you with ally heart and will always my life may not be worth living but if I could give up my life to make you happy I will no matter what I will always whant you to be happy I love you that’s all you need from me is my love that’s it you don’t need money fancy jewelry or cloths to make you happy you need you to make you happy I’m here to help you o make you happy

  19. With my boyfriend and I both fighting depression, we usually know what to do. Though I still look up ways to make him feel better. I know when I’m depressed he wont leave me alone. He stays by my side and constantly tells me he loves me and cares for me. Every time I say that I’m sorry for being a burden on him he reasures me I’m not and that when agreeing to date me, these little sad moments and rough moments was part of the “contract”. When I’m crying he says, “Precious, Precious, Precious, please don’t cry. I’m here for you. Look, see. Please don’t cry, my love.”
    And this is all over Skype. Yep, we don’t get to see each other in person. Just over camera. It shows that even over camera, ooVoo, or Skype you can still be there to help your love with his struggles with sadness.

  20. The best thing that helped me overcome my depression was my best friend. Whenever I was on the verge of a mental breakdown she’s immediately notice and start to comfort me by hugging and telling me that everything was going to be okay and for that long time in her warm, familiar embrace….it did.

  21. Thank you for writing such true and powerful words. I’ve been fighting depression for about 25 years, I’ve tried the pills, talks, mindfulness, meditation, numerous things. I even have strong suicidal thoughts. I’ve searched the internet, read countless books, but nothing helped. I read this and it is just that simple, a hug or kind word. I’ve been telling my wife and doctors this for years. when I read your log I was bought to tears, because it really is that simple. I love it when my wife hugs me or even just a gentle touch. When my 13 year old Daughter says are you OK daddy, it fills my heart to the point of exploding with joy. My two sons when they play their musical instruments, or pass a milestone in their lives, just fills me. A hug from a good friend or even a stranger gets the job done. Thank you again for these words, it’s nice to know there is at least one other person on this planet that makes this connection. I hope this sight is still active.

  22. Just looking at this list may be cry remembering when the first person I told said these things to me. I am really grateful that someone was there for me who cared as much as they did.

  23. I can’t, and won’t speak for anyone else… But when I crash, saying anything to me is wrong… I see words as empty, hollow things used to fake and emulate feelings. Show me you care, in my darkest hours what I need is physical contact, a hug, a touch, simple physical reassurances that I am not alone.

  24. Well I think it’s not depression but failure that turns us into such
    state. We have to think daily about what is it that makes us happy and
    creative and enjoy our lives:)

  25. Suicide is a long term-solution to a short-term problem. And
    besides, if you kill yourself, your (fill in the blank – baby, child,
    daughter, son, wife, husband) won’t have you to kiss in the morning.

    1. Logically, I understand it, but it also sounds minimizing, minimizing their depression to a short-term problem, like it’s a phase.

      And some of us already have enough problems w/ blaming ourselves and guilt trips. More guilt doesn’t help.

      So, it might be okay for some, but not okay for others.

  26. Sometimes the thing I want most is just somebody to LISTEN. Not say anything at all. People get so
    flustered by the best things to say but really all I want is someone to
    hold my hand and just let me talk. I also like hugs. Sometimes my friend
    in work will just come and hug me, out of the blue and without a word –
    that always makes me feel loved, and that’s important when you have
    depression, as it can so often make you feel alone and uncared for.

  27. The best one I can remember was “are you okay?”
    This was probably made a lot more meaningful by the fact that the girl
    in question asked it every week, despite facing all the rudeness I could
    muster* Another one, though possibly not for everybody was
    “You can feel free to cry. I won’t be upset.”
    I never could cry when I was depressed, but the general meaning, that I
    could trust them not to break if I quit pretending, was very
    encouraging.

  28. What can I do for you?
    Name anything and I’ll do it for you.
    Talk to me
    I’m here for you and I’m not leaving you
    Rest, as long as you need to
    Peace, my peace I give to you.
    Rest in peace.

  29. I can’t really think of a best thing to say to someone, but I know
    the best thing to do. I love it whenever someone gives me a hug. My best
    friend had been in a depression herself and she knows how it feels, and
    she knows that I have it also. Whenever she sees me, she runs at me and
    gives me a huge hug. It’s the best thing in the world.

    I’d rather people just shut up and hug you. They usually don’t
    understand but their compassion is enough.

  30. Why is it the list of best things is one page… but the list of worse
    things to say is pages long… the people around me say they cant say
    anything to me anymore, and the list of worst things to say REALLY are the worse things to say, I got tons
    floating in my head….

    But this list of best things… simply asking someone for a hug means
    your needy and who want that around!

  31. A phonecall at middle of nightfrom a depressed friend: what is
    better mood elevator than to

    “change reasons to be pissed of”!

    Both give each other time to tell her/his day(s). At the end we can
    only laugh: though it is that “black humour” – you laugh at things which
    are really far from being laughable..

  32. Hey qt, just sending you some happy thoughts to help you along. Hope
    you get them – a txt from my husband when he knew i was having a bad
    day

  33. im depressed and telling myself “you were given this life because
    you are strong enough to live it” helps me

  34. I think the person named Carey above has a dream husband. It’s sad
    how many people just jump right in with what they think is best. The
    best think anyone can do is ask “What can I do for you right now?”.

    1. You can’t just ask what can I do for you, because they most likely won’t know what you can do for them, my girlfriend says I don’t know when I ask

  35. “I’m not going to abandon you or break up with you because you’re
    going through depression. When you love someone you don’t abandon them.
    You don’t abandon the ones that you love”.-boyfriend

  36. If I’m out in public and having a hard time containing myself, I
    call my mom and ask her to, “Tell me something nice.”

    She goes straight into telling me something cool that happened
    recently to her or to me (“You took amazing photos this morning!” for
    example), or tells me what my pets are doing that exact moment.

    That willingness to distract me, without questions, is very
    comforting.

    Random affection is really nice as well. I want to be held whenever,
    not just because I’m crying.

  37. God loves you even when the rest of the world thinks you’re a
    looser, and even when you think you’re a looser. He loves and accepts
    you anyway.

  38. here is something for you ! to helop me help you when you need my
    help. i am here for you i know i have told you this before but please
    believe me I am here ok love you janet

  39. “I know you are depressed right now. Lets go lay down and I’ll give
    you a hug.” – From my husband

    My favorite phrase from my husband when he knows I’m depressed- “Do
    you want me to talk to you or should I shut up and hold your hand?” When
    I ask him to talk to me he goes on and on about a tv show he saw or a
    dream he had or something else just to distract me. When I tell him to
    shut up, he holds my hand and stays with me.

    1. That’s amazing. I was told the opposite, like “you’d better fix it!”. She didn’t want to deal w/ it. Strange thing, she didn’t want someone depressed because she was afraid I wouldn’t be able to offer emotional support when *she* needed it.

    2. Sometimes, my girlfriend will end up getting really pissed off at me no matter what I say or do. She can’t explain why she does it but it hurts so much

      1. Does she maybe have borderline personality disorder? That’s what my girlfriend has and she does the same thing. It does hurt, but hang in there, she really does love you.

        1. Irritability is a huge symptom of depression. Whatever you do, DO NOT take what she says personally. Make sure she knows you’re there for her, make her your best friend and SHUT UP WHEN APPROPRIATE! One thing I’ve done, with my girlfriend who suffers from EXTREME depression, I wait until she’s asleep and whether I’m laying right next to her or whatever, I text her a long ass paragraph about how I’m going to be here when the world turns its back on her and I’m still going to be there. Etc. And I mean a PARAGRAPH. Huge. Then screenshot the paragraph. When she wakes up, she will love reading it, and when she is feeling depressed in the future, send (or show) her the screenshots to remind her that you’re by her side. She says that things like that mean everything. But yeah. Just don’t take her irritability too seriously. That is NOT your girlfriend talking, it is just the depression and everything else she’s feeling telling her to isolate herself. Keep your head up and see her through the hard times.

          1. Wow you really have mastered the art of little things. Little things thathat women enjoyment you will go very far in life. And be happy with it

          2. So, my daughter has suffered from escalating depression since a teen. I do understand and appreciate what is happening to her – enough that I knew intuitively not to make judgements about the way she feels about some things, no matter how unreasonable they seem to me, enough not to try and convince her she is wrong in how she perceives the world. However, am I supposed to just sit, quietly, without leaving,taking continuous verbal abuse (where everything I say in agreement and/or assurance is twisted and thrown back at me, and, I mean everything). I truly try to “hear” what she says, as well as listen. I have never considered platitudes appropriate. I have never suggested there is a “fix” for this (although I’ve encouraged her to keep exploring other medications when she said nothing would help). I’m in trouble if I check in and don’t ask about the depression, in trouble if I do. I am castigated for not doing things I didn’t know we’re needed or wanted, castigated for the way I do things she has asked of me. She rages at me no matter the discussion or situation, and I bite my tongue to keep my mouth shut over the contradictions and distortions…then find myself lost when she demands some response. I accept that I have not handled everything correctly in her life (I was sick for many years), but I have always strived to care and provide for her, have always done everything I could to show my love. Our relationship is deteriorating, I am deteriorating under the almost constant judgement and yelling about how wrong I am, even when I try to correct my actions or speech, even when I try to apologize and assure her I accept the accusations (no matter how misguided). What am I supposed to do?

        2. How do you make it work I’m going through the same thing with my girlfriend and somehow I’m trying to hold on even when she acts mean I just try and push it off me

      2. I am in the same boat. My girlfriend and I live on opposite ends of the earth. She’s in Australia and I’m in the States. We hadn’t dated very long before I had to come back to the States. But I am finding it so hard to find ways to comfort her when we cannot see one another. All we have for communication is the phone/FaceTime. She gets very irritated with me because I do not know what to do or say to comfort her in her times of need. She does have borderline personality disorder as well. I’m in need of some guidance. I want to be here for her whenever she is feeling really down, but I can’t seem to find the words to say. Can anyone give me suggestions?

    3. Hi,
      I am currently struggling and looking for strength to hang in. My partner is depressed and she stopped taking her meds months ago. Lately it has gotten very bad, everything annoys her… I feel that even get the blame for bad weather, or its my fault it’s hot but if I turn the AC I also cop it. Everything gets questioned but other days are fantastic!!
      What I want to ask you is, should I also say what your husband said for you?? I want to but am afraid to sometimes.

  40. what would help me would be if HE would just hug me..hold my hand
    and let me cry..and then tell me that I’m okay..that everything is going
    to be okay.. but that never happens

    1. Knowing your own darknesses can help you help others .people do understand if they have been in similar situations as you ,just trust that they will help you in the best way and be there for you even after recovery .

    2. Some people actually do understand what a person is going through. Sometimes, no, they don’t know what you are going through, but they just want to say that so you can have someone that will understand you and be with you through it. My friend’s parents are getting divorced, well were, and I didn’t really know what that was like. I was still there for them and said I understand what they were going through even though I never went through it. It is just a way to console another person. I knew how they felt though cause I can understand and learn quickly when it comes to something between parents or family members.

      1. Beautifully spoken man/woman. You may want to help people but you may not always know what they are going through. That doesn’t give anyone a reason to abandon their friend in a time of need because you’re just going to end up making the situation worse for them. The best thing to do is just be there for them, try to understand what they’re going through and just continue to talk to them even if they say they don’t need it. Chances are they’re just to scared to admit that they need help or they have so much pride that they think they can handle it all on their own. I went through that growing up and looking back I wish I had someone that could’ve been there for me because all those years really messed me up inside and now the only way I can really feel happy is by making others happy when they need it because I never had that help when I was growing up but I know that I would’ve wanted it.

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