14 Things People Who Suffer from Depression Wish You Would Stop Saying to Them

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Unless you live with it, you couldn’t possibly understand. I’m talking about people who suffer from depression, you know.

This is my pitiful attempt at introducing depression. Depression is paralyzing. It can transform a perfectly sunny day into a dark pit of despair. For those who suffer, it can seem almost impossible to escape this pit, and we need all the support we can get. I fight this battle as well.

People fail to look outside their own perceptions. Unfortunately, what works for some people in certain situations, doesn’t always work for others. Those who do not suffer from depression, just cannot understand how it feels.

When you know someone is suffering from depression and you want to help, you sometimes blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. I bet you’re wondering if you’re guilty of saying insensitive things to people who suffer from depression, aren’t you?

Let me just go ahead and tell you what not to say. I’m warning you, I am going to be blunt and to the point, and tell you how I feel about some choice phrases.

Please, dear God, never say these things to people who suffer from depression. You’re better off being silent.

1. “Just stop talking about it.”

I’m sharing a secret with you. I was told, not too long ago, that I should stop talking about my illness and it would go away. What makes it so hard is that the one who told me this is my spiritual leader. First off, I’m not trying to come down on spiritual leaders but I’ve tried talking the darkness into light and it worked momentarily, but it did not stay away.

The point is, depression is a real thing, whether I wish to talk about it or not, no one else should have the audacity to tell me to ignore the problem and it will go away. How mature is that, anyway? Don’t do this, plain and simple.

2. “You look better when you smile.”

Yeah, we all look like Mary Poppins when we have a huge grin plastered across our faces. I guess the smile will dig down deep and wash away the horrors of bleakness-not. I may look better when smiling, but it’s going to take some entertaining to coax that smile.

Instead of pining for a smile, why don’t you fall in love with the truth of me, scars and all? Maybe you could smile, it’s better than criticism.

3. “Look at all the things you have to be happy about. Why are you sad?”

I could have every material object my heart desired and still be unhappy, or depressed rather. As a matter of fact, I have a husband, children and a home. I have plenty of food to eat and many books to read. I have pets, both cats and dogs and the location where I live is peaceful with almost perfect weather.

There you have it. I have everything I need, but guess what, sometimes I still want to end it all, and sometimes I have no idea why. Depression is not sadness. It’s something much worse than that.

4. “I miss the old you.”

I mean, come on, this one is ridiculous. If you miss the old me, and you love me and know me for who I really am, then you already know about my illness. That’s one way to look at it.

Another idea is this: If you love the old me (happy me), then instead of reminding me that I have failed you, why not sit and watch television with me, or grab a book and read to me. I may not want to do these things, but you can spend your breath asking me to do something instead of telling me that I’m not the best company.

5. “You need to seek help.”

Chances are, I have already sought help on many occasions. I may be currently seeking help. This doesn’t mean that I should be cured of my illness. In fact, illnesses, such as bipolar depression, cannot be cured, it can only be maintained. So, been there, done that. Any more suggestions?

6. “Happiness is a choice.”

You know, I’m not even going to harp on this one. If I could be happy, I would be happy. What do you think I am, a glutton for punishment?

7. “Maybe you should take meds.” Or “Are you taking your meds?”

Not everyone who suffers from depression takes their meds, but I do. I still have ‘wanna-be’ psychiatrist loved ones telling me that I should take my meds. Sometimes when it’s bad, and I mean excruciating, my loved ones ask if I’m off my meds. Well, the truth is, the medicines can only do so much and the depression leaks right through.

I wish I could tell you that I was off my meds or whatever, but sometimes, they just aren’t strong enough for some levels of darkness.

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About the Author:

Sherrie is a freelance writer and artist with over 10 years of experience. She spends most of her time giving life to the renegade thoughts. As the words erupt and form new life, she knows that she is yet again free from the nagging persistence of her muse. She is a mother of three and a lifetime fan of the thought-provoking and questionable aspects of the universe.


  1. Sayers June 26, 2016 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    You have an incredible ability to put your quick wit into words. Thanks, you made me smile even on a dark day.

  2. Stephen Rafferty June 26, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

    All very valid except 13 – it is important when someone is depressed as opposed to down that suicide is discussed. Many people contemplate or even plan suicide and it MUST be addressed – not every time you meet the person but it needs discussing and contradicts #1.

    Other than that spot on imho.

    • AnotherLover July 7, 2016 at 4:52 am - Reply

      Well, if you want a child to walk around the pool, and not to run, here are two ways you could proceed. Tell the child “Don’t run near the pool,” or tell the child “Only walk near the pool.” The problem with the first is simple: you’ve suggested to the child’s subconscious that they “run near the pool.” You didn’t mean that and the child clearly understood you. You’ve still created the problem by creating the suggestion with the words “run near the pool.” You made the idea in the first place.

      I wouldn’t communicate to a person that I expect them to take their life. I wouldn’t communicate to a person that their friends expect them to take their own life. However, I would do that and more if I saw something that made me feel that this person was going to commit suicide. At that point I say full steam ahead.

      I can imagine only in rare cases would talk of suicide help — like at the point a person is on their way to do it, or had decided to. But in all cases, by talking about it, I see the suggestion that they do it being made. It’s made unintentionally, but that doesn’t help the carpenter who’s cut a board too short, either.

      Look — there’s a certain point where a person’s life is their own, period. Frankly, counseling someone on the issue is potentially overstepping your boundaries. It’s also potentially disastrous. By suggesting to the person the world expects them to kill themselves (but check out this great bucket list of reasons to live???), I see far more likelihood of causing harm than helping. I would reason caution in assuming too much responsibility for another person. Turning away from a cry for help is one thing, but insisting on talking about suicide is likely a horrible mistake. Far more chance of doing harm than good. Not only that, the harm of the suggestion is done via the incredibly powerful subconscious mind, which is susceptible to such influence. The potential good accomplished by talking about it can only be realized through the reasoning faculties, whose strength pales in comparison to that of the subconscious. Reason won’t defeat feeling, so it’s best not to generate the feeling with good-meaning but ultimately harmful words to begin with. That’s my take.

    • Rabbitnexus July 7, 2016 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Assuming you’re the best one to talk about it, or to judge when the time is right? Just don’t say it. You have been asked politely enough!

  3. Thea Dunlap June 27, 2016 at 5:45 am - Reply

    This are good things to know. I wish my 16 year old self read this. I didn’t have suicidal tendencies but it was a dark time in my teenage years. the depression.

  4. Oshadi Devi June 27, 2016 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    It is important for you to know that not all people who believe that you are “celebrating” your condition are haters.

    I grew up in a traditional family of five, three diagnosed with clinical depression, 2 highly medicated for a bi-polar condition. The struggle to not be drawn into the tar-pit of self-pity and narcissism continues to this day. Talk about a fifty year downer…

    Do not judge those who do not agree with you as un-wise or “haters.” Depression, and staying in the condition whether medicated or not is a choice, especially as an adult. There are services and support groups. Forgive me if like others who agree with me, it is a better choice to walk away, keep your mouth shut, pity and participate not, and not feed the dragon.

    Yes, have compassion. However, always choose to spend time with those whose energy matches yours, or even better yet…with those that you want to be like….Happy, Healthy, Positive, Hopeful. Choose to raise your frequency, or at least try.

  5. Sherrie Hurd July 2, 2016 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Thank you all for your comments. I think that Stephen makes a valid point about suicide. Suicide is serious, but you have to be able to discern some things for yourself when dealing with those suffering from mental illness.And Oshadi, I understand where you are coming from. My spiritual leaders are optimistic and hopeful, but they tend to push this upon me at times. The goal is to feel better and be drawn toward the light, I am aware of this. As for dealing with entire families with mental illness, I have done that. My mother was hospitalized for anxiety and depression, while my father lived with bipolar disorder. As a child, I had no idea that they were sick. I lived as if the way there were was normal. I was a victim of abuse which triggered my genetic predisposition for mental illness. It was a whirlwind of emotions at home, now that I can see it from an adult perspective. My brother deals with issues as well.

    It’s not that we want to feel this way. It’s just that we have such a devil of a time keeping hold of the light. Making a decision to change is not as easy as you think, especially if everyone around you, as you were growing to adulthood, was inflicted with ‘madness’. I was pulled down by them, but friends of the family, who tried to infect their happiness by telling me to ‘just make the decision to be happy’ only made me feel like a failure. It’s a tricky thing, and you have to be fully committed to victims of mental illness to be able to help them. I’m sorry, it’s not so cut and dry and black and white as you would like it to be. I am sorry for your suffering with your family. My heart goes out to you.

    • Rabbitnexus July 7, 2016 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Simple and blunt advice. Pot smoking/eating/vaporising whatever alleviates the depression and has some other positive benefits as well. If you’ve not tried it, I suggest you do. What have yo8u got to lose? I forget I have the black dog on my heels for years at a time with only those occassions I run dry serving as a reminder. It also virtually guarantees you won’t see alzheimers or senility set in. Pot does take away the highs, regular use means you’ll neither feel the lows of depression or the ecstatic highs of Bipolar disorder (two of my three grown kids are bipolar) but for myself, being free of the unaccountable yet crippling depression which is the alternative is sufficient.

  6. L Garou July 6, 2016 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Heeey, that’s the stuff people are always saying to me!
    Plus at least 10 more..

  7. Khadija July 7, 2016 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Please tell us, what should we say? How can we help our friends and loved ones who suffer from depression?

  8. Choose your Reality July 17, 2016 at 1:35 am - Reply

    If it is a result of a traumatic event. Seek talk therapy and various meditative tools.
    If this is due to low and deficiency in minerals and feelgoid hormone seek a naturopath or a Chinese medicine doctor. The physical requires certain levels. I believe any depression is a spiritual depression being closer to or connecting to an expansive path to something greater within yourself lifts the darkness.

  9. DAG January 24, 2017 at 4:54 pm - Reply

    These are the things we should not say… What are the things that we SHOULD say ? Thanks

    • Ipsita Basu February 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Maybe just be there…
      Most of the time, that’s enough…

  10. Sasd January 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm - Reply

    It is weak. Stop pushing those ‘depressed’ people

  11. Ipsita Basu February 17, 2017 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Thank you Sherrie…
    I’ve been told so many of these things, so many times…
    Sometimes I wish somebody somewhere understood, you know…
    I’ve never met you, but reading your post, for the first time in ages, makes me feel like someone understands, like at least I’m not alone…
    And I can’t tell you just how much that means to me…
    Thank you so so much…

  12. Jay June 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    Hello I lived with depression for 30 years of my life and it was not till the last 4 years that I have become happy and I did that by taking responsibility for my depression and learning about the mind and meditation number 6 is just wrong you have to take responsibility for your happiness you are the only person who can make your self happy do not ignore your depression and depression is just a symptom you have to find out why you are depressed do not treat the symptoms meds do not work the best thing you can do is exercise and eat healthy and meditation lastly study phycology that is what worked for me

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