Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed

Image: Night by Edward Robert Hughes

Night by Edward Robert Hughes

Some people trivialize depression (often unintentionally) by dropping a platitude on a depressed person as if that is the one thing they needed to hear. While some of these thoughts have been helpful to some people (for example, some find that praying is very helpful), the context in which they are often said mitigates any intended benefit to the hearer. Platitudes don’t cure depression.

Here is the list from contributors to a.s.d. (alt.support.depression):

0. “What’s *your* problem?”

1. “Will you stop that constant whining? What makes you think that anyone cares?”

2. “Have you gotten tired yet of all this me-me-me stuff?”

3. “You just need to give yourself a kick in the rear.”

4. “But it’s all in your mind.”

5. “I thought you were stronger than that.”

6. “No one ever said life was fair.”

7. “As you get stronger you won’t have to wallow in it as much.”

8. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

9. “Do you feel better now?”(Usually said following a five minute conversation in which the speaker has asked me “what’s wrong?” and “would you like to talk about it?” with the best of intentions, but absolutely no under-standing of depression as anything but an irrational sadness.)

10. “Why don’t you just grow up?”

11. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

12. “There are a lot of people worse off than you?”

13. “You have it so good, why aren’t you happy?”

14. “It’s a beautiful day!”

15. “You have so many things to be thankful for, why are you depressed!”

16. “What do you have to be depressed about”.

17. “Happiness is a choice”

18. “You think *you’ve* got problems…”

19. “Well at least it’s not that bad.”

20. “Maybe you should take vitamins for your stress.”

21. “There is always somebody worse off than you are.”

22. “Lighten up!”

23. “You should get off all those pills.”

24. “You are what you think.”

25. “Cheer up!”

26. “You’re always feeling sorry for yourself.”

27. “Why can’t you just be normal?”

28. “Things aren’t *that* bad, are they?”

29. “Have you been praying/reading the Bible?”

30. “You need to get out more.”

31. “We have to get together some time.” [Yeah, right!]

32. “Get a grip!”

33. “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

34. “Take a hot bath. That’s what I always do when I’m upset.”

35. “Well, everyone gets depressed sometimes!”

36. “Get a job!”

37. “Smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone.”

38. “You don’t *look* depressed!”

39. “You’re so selfish!”

40. “You never think of anyone but yourself.”

41. “You’re just looking for attention.”

42. “Have you got PMS?”

43. “You’ll be a better person because of it!”

44. “Everybody has a bad day now and then.”

45. “You should buy nicer clothes to wear.”

46. “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

47. “Why don’t you smile more?”

48. “A person your age should be having the time of your life.”

49. “The only one you’re hurting is yourself.”

50. “You can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it.”

51. “This is a place of BUSINESS, not a HOSPITAL”; after confiding to supervisor about my depression

52. “Depression is a symptom of your sin against God.”

53. “You brought it on yourself”

54. “You can make the choice for depression and its effects, or against depression, it’s all in YOUR hands.”

55. “Get off your rear and do something.” -or- “Just do it!”

56. “Why should I care?”

57. “Snap out of it, will you?”

58. “You *want* to feel this way.”

59. “You have no reason to feel this way.”

60. “Its your own fault.”

61. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

62. “You’re always worried about *your* problems.”

63. “Your problems aren’t that big.”

64. “What are you worried about? You should be fine.”

65. “Just don’t think about it.”

66. “Go Away.”

67. “You don’t have the ability to do it.”

68. “Just wait a few weeks, it’ll be over soon.”

69. “Go out and have some fun!”

70. “You’re making me depressed as well…”

71. “I just want to help you.”

72. “The world out there is not that bad…”

73. “Just try a little harder!”

74. “Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.”

75. “You need a boy/girl-friend.”

76. “You need a hobby.”

77. “Just pull yourself together”

78. “You’d feel better if you went to church”

79. “I think your depression is a way of punishing us.” —My mother

80. “Sh*t or get off the pot.”

81. “So, you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?”

82. “What you need is some real tragedy in your life to give you perspective.”

83. “You’re a writer, aren’t you? Just think of all the good material you’re getting out of this.”

84. This one is best executed with an evangelical-style handshake, i.e. one of my hands is imprisoned by two belonging to a beefy person who thinks he has a lot more charisma than I do: “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” This has actually happened to me. Bitten-back response: “Who are ‘our’? And don’t do me any favors, schmuck.”

85. “Have you tried camomile tea?”

86. “So, you’re depressed. Aren’t you always?”

87. “You will be ok, just hang in there, it will pass.” “This too shall pass.” – Ann Landers

88. “Oh, perk up!”

89. “Try not being so depressed.”

90. “Quit whining. Go out and help people and you won’t have time to brood…”

91. “Go out and get some fresh air… that always makes me feel better.”

92. “You have to take up your bed and carry on.”

93. “Why don’t you give up going to these quacks (ie doctors) and throw out those pills, then you’ll feel better.”

94. “Well, we all have our cross to bear.”

95. “You should join band or chorus or something. That way you won’t be thinking about yourself so much.”

96. “You change your mind.”

97. “You’re useless.”

98. “Nobody is responsible for your depression.”

99. “You don’t like feeling that way? So, change it.”

Version 1.7 April 29, 1995

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338 thoughts on “Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed

  1. “it cant be as bad as you think it is” is that on here? my mom just
    said this to me. i am too depressed to read the whole thing

  2. “I’m the one that has to listen to all of this, all the time. What
    do you have to be upset about?” – a “friend” who prides herself on
    “being there” for me.

  3. “well I don’t have that problem” – a “friend” who claims to “care
    very deeply and will always be there”

  4. You’re more like your mother that way; your sister and I were always
    able to get over things and move on with life. Just don’t dwell on it.
    (spoken by my father)

  5. snap out of it man there are other people who are depressed to you
    know you just need to get a hobby or some thing and evry thing will be
    okay.
    i wanted to punch him then after he said that

  6. It is not my duty to be bothered by your illness. Do not poison me
    with your misery. (Last words from my ex-friend)

  7. “You’re looking too deep into this, stop putting yourself down even
    more. There are other ways to deal with depression then sit there and
    sulk. You’re not the girl that used to be my best friend. It’s like I
    don’t know you anymore.”

  8. “what do you want me to do? Slash my wrists?!” from my bf when we
    were arguing after I told him that I didn’t believe him about something
    and he wanted to know how he could “prove” to me he was serious.

    and “I don’t need this!!” I think he was referring
    to my depression.

  9. 11. “I’m tired of your b*llsh*t”, said by my ex before leaving me.
    All the others on the list, btw, I’ve heard from a ‘friend’, who wonders
    why I’m avoiding her. So go F-off yourself, to both of you, or go F
    each other, as I know you do now.

  10. “what’s wrong with YOU?” – Often, from
    randomw strangers in the supermarket etc, in response to my anxiety.

  11. My mum’s favorite thing to do is rip out the magazine inserts for
    new anti-depressants and bring them to me. “Look, Cymbalta! This sounds
    just like you!”

    • No shit.

      I think we just want someone to understand us and lsn to us (w/o judgement) and love us (unconditionally).

      I hope you find that person, Calvin, or whatever you’re seeking.

      <3

  12. It’s all in your mind.
    You just like having the excuse to be lazy. (after I was signed off work
    as had panic attack in front of a class)
    You don’t know what is you and what is the medication.
    Really you should just smile more.
    I’m sick of your stupid moping get out there and do something.
    All my mum! lol helpful woman she is!!

  13. “why dont you smile” someone that doesnt even know me.

    “why dont you talk much” the only words i heard this girl say in 2
    hours

    “little emo kid”

    “i wish she’d drop dead” a friend to a friend about me

    thnxx rhi sum friend u r

  14. “I know that you’re depressed. But it drags me down and makes me not
    want to be around you when you get like this.” Told to me by my bf,
    after trying to explain to him that I don’t choose to
    be depressed. Another thing he says to me, after crying about nothing
    (to him anyway), “Do you have something you need to tell me?” which is
    his code for ‘Have you been cheating on me’

    • Omg!!! I had the same thing happened to me too!! I know the feeling… And then you have my ex getting depressed because he thought I was cheating in him. Then his depression went away, and mine is still there. His last words were, “maybe if you had more friends, you wouldn’t be like this……”

  15. There’s a LOT of backstory behind this
    one, but suffice it to say I’m a former Christian, and deconverted in
    the last two years, but have suffered from undiagnosed (but disturbingly
    depressive) symptoms for far longer:

    “If being an atheist is so great, why are you so depressed/want to
    kill yourself?”

  16. “God never gives you more than you can handle”

    we are just dealt cards in life…I would hope God doesn’t playout
    that I deserve the LOT in this life….

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