Worst Things to Say to Someone Who’s Depressed 339

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

Best Things to Say to Someone Who is Depressed

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

  • Gertrude

    There should be a column here for comments on what TO say; what could be said to not make you feel worse, as being on the other end of it and not knowing what to say, it doesn’t make me feel good at all. And some of these things I have said, as I don’t even know WHAT to say anymore. People often respond with (stupid) things, because they don’t know what is the (right) thing to say.

  • :(

    Found this after googling whilst feeling like utter c**p after my fiancee told me to stop complaining. I have depression (diagnosed) and am going through a particularly rough patch. So unhappy.

  • Paula

    “Here’s some holy water – I want you to drink this every time you’ll feel depressed.” – My mother

    “You just need to find your purpose in life.”

    “I don’t think you should go to a doctor, because you’re not depressed. You’re just overwhelmed with all the stress you’re dealing with.” -My father

  • Xx

    So the point is, what should we say to a person that is depressed? Is it really better for that person to take pity on him and make him think he has reasons to be depressed?

  • Lost

    My mom: it’s all in your mind if you let it overpower you you’ll keep feeling this way.you’re beign dramatic and want attention.everyone gets depressed you just decide to stay like that.

    Others:you’re so young what are you depressed about?you haven’t lived life long enough for you to know what suffering is.

    Just because I’m young or I dinterrupt tell you what I have been through does not mean I haven’t been through shit. It really annoys me when people think you have control of when to feel depressed or how long if I knew how to cure it is wouldn’t have to talk about it and it wouldn’t be affecting people.

  • Unknown

    “I was depressed in college! I had it way worse than you! You aren’t depressed, you are using it as an excuse to be lazy! You wouldn’t be laughing at what your sister said a moment ago! You leave the house sometimes, get over it!!” -mom
    Well mom, the thing is, if I DON’T leave the house, then you will YELL at me, saying I’m being LAZY and the reason to why I don’t/can’t keep friends, this making me feel more like shit. Everytime I leave the damn house to go to work I always cry on the way, crying on how I just want to go back home, I just want to be in bed and be alone, to feel safe by myself. My anxiety can only take so much to the point of having panic attacks in social situations, especially work. Yes, sometimes I DO laugh, sometimes I find things FUNNY, but that doesn’t mean I’m okay. I’m just having a good moment, a RARE moment, maybe even a FAKE moment. Just like that, the switch turns on and I’m back to being depressed or anxious.

  • pippa

    i have to strongly disagree with points 17, 30, 33, 50, 54, 71, 73, 76, 87 and 99.
    my partner has seen a doctor and he wants him to try and get better firsrly without medication. a few of the things he has suggested is going out more,exercising, practising his favourite hobby (music, he’s a musician), and trying to change his thoughts by thinking about one positive thing daily. it also helps when you give hope to the depressed that it is temporary, it WILL pass – the most important is not to push or pressure the depressed, they need to do all this in their own time – it’s important to stress to your loved one that you will stand by them no matter what, offer you support and unconditional love.

  • cipher

    “Stop pretending, it isn’t funny!”;you think I find it funny…?
    I was grounded and had my phone taken because I was ‘acting crazy’ and my parents think that ‘depression’ is a thing that only rich people say they have as an excuse to waste money on psychologists…
    I’ve cut myself. My parents said that if i want to cut, i shouldnt use the sissors, might aswell use a knife. They literally put a knif e in front of me…thinking that im such as faker…

  • Leah

    So many of these comments I can relate to. Being hurt by my father the most when I’ve always been there for him and I did what was right and protected my family, now I’m told “I’m on my own” “all I do is cause trouble for everyone around me”. I wonder why I feel like giving up on everything.

  • FML

    My wife a few months ago saying “You need to start thinking happy thoughts.” My reply, “I hear voices telling me to kill myself and I have been hearing them for more than 30 years. Happy thoughts are not going to fix that.”

    #41: Your just looking for attention. Yes, yes I am looking for attention because I need help! It’s exactly the same as a drowning person at the beach yelling to get the lifeguard’s attention.

  • Anna

    “Get a job and you would’t be depressed”
    ” Fall in love”
    ” Stop acting as a child you are adult now”
    ” You are ruining my life”
    ” You are always grumpy, i will start calling you Grumpy cat”
    ” You are just lazy”
    ” Get out more. Enjoy your youth” ( yeah right; i can barely go to the grocery)
    ” Think positive and positive things will happen”
    and this is my favorite: “People are generally unhappy but they are fighting unlike you”

  • Tony

    One of comments was removed about “choices you make” Depression is not a choice. So, since the comment was removed, should have well email me a gun with a bullet coupon.

  • Tony

    “Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and ONLY you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period”

    This quote really bites me, makes me very angry who ever thought of this, made this up. Psychiatrists are known to throw this at people who suffer with depression. Been suffering with depression for over 20 years. And this quotes contributes to the blaming, a crutch for excuses. My depression was not brought on me by my own. And it is not a one day thing. Watched a sitcom today, and they were mocking depression.

  • Amy

    “Stop being so grouchy. Chill out.” -my husband

    I’ve been struggling with severe depression for months now and have finally seen a new psychiatrist and am trying different meds. My husband is fully aware that I live, eat, and breathe suicidal thoughts – constantly. Ugh.

  • Sara

    Iam 46 years old and decided to get married last year to what I thought was the love of my life six mths after the wedding he decided he didnt want to be married any more moved away met someone else and constantly rubbed my face in it being regretful and sorry one min and vile and evil the next I was left devastated and financially broke and completely in shock the shame telling my family and friends have left me suicidal

  • -

    “It’s all in your head” or “ignore it” or “shut up!”. The words that have been said one to many times by my own mother. I’ve even told her about my suicidal tendencies and she doesn’t believe me she says “why don’t you think before you speak?!”. I need help.