7 Effective Ways to Talk to Someone with Depression

One should understand that talking to someone with depression is a creative process. As a caregiver, friend or ally, we can understand that it feels like walking on eggshells around someone living with depression.

You can be constantly worried that something you say could sound patronizing in nature and upset them. You may feel helpless about this—instead of reducing their emotional distress, your words may add more despair to their misery.

While conveying concerns to someone living with depression can be challenging, this article contains some essential tips about the way to communicate concern and love.

What to talk to someone with depression?

Statistics show that nearly 1.7 million Americans experience depression annually. Some of the symptoms appear relatively minor, while some are debilitated. Though no quick method exists to heal depression, comfort and being there for your loved ones can ease the symptoms.

How do you start recognizing depression symptoms in a loved one?

Family and friends help in many cases in combatting depression. So, understanding how depression occurs and its causes is crucial in determining the symptoms. You might have noticed emotional distress before someone has gone down, and your influence and concern might be able to encourage someone to get help.

If you observe your person is having difficulty in maintaining relationships, hasn’t been able to enjoy work, sports, hobbies, or not partaking in fun activities, is often moody, uncharacteristically angry, and short-tempered and describes a sense of helplessness or hopelessness; you can realize that these are some of the common diagnosable symptoms of depression1.

talk to someone with depression
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How do you help someone with depression?

Depression is a serious but treatable disease; it harms millions of individuals and their families. It gets into everyday activities that can cause tremendous pain.

When a loved one is depressed, it is possible to feel anger or helplessness. When someone is suffering from depression, it can be hard. Ignoring oneself could make your health overwhelming. Your support may help recover someone you love.

Helping others suffering from depression is challenging. When people are depressed, they may feel helpless or unsure of their situation. Learn ways to provide support in dealing with depression; help and support from friends and family members can help in suicide prevention.2 

How do you talk to someone with depression?

It’s hard to explain something or to know how to talk to someone with depression about depression itself. You may fear if you mention your fears, they may feel insulted or dismissive. You might have questions or need help with the way things are going. What are some suggestions for getting started on your journey?

Remember that compassionate listening is more valuable than advice. You can’t simply “fix” someone. In many cases, speaking face-to-face can help people with severe depression.

Depression has often led to suicide; it’s hard for people to believe that someone who loved them is contemplating suicide, but they likely don’t have another option. Depressive symptoms cloud judgment and disseminate thought, allowing the rational mind to think death can end their suffering.

Here’s a short list of what we may often be saying to someone living with depression and what’s a stronger alternative to that.

1. Avoid trivializing a person’s distress 

“That’s nothing; you ought to hear what happened to me.”; Don’t use phrases and language that downplay how the opposite person feels. Avoid comparing their situation to somebody else’s or perhaps your own. Every person’s experience of a situation is exclusive, and to create a comparison wouldn’t be fair or accurate.

Saying, “Everyone faces this problem,” doesn’t change the fact that the distress experienced is real. Communication like this might make an individual feel as if their emotions don’t seem valid or that you don’t seem to be there for them at a time after they need you around.

Instead, acknowledge that they’re facing challenges, and you can say, “I’m sorry you’re researching a rough time.” or “I can see how painful this can be for you.”

2. Don’t force them to manage their emotions and not express their feelings by saying, “Stop crying.”

“Don’t feel bad; cheer up!”

Being tearful and feeling emotional are natural symptoms of depression. Don’t urge someone to suppress emotions that are only natural at a time like this. Forcing them to cover how they feel can make them want to say they’re doing something wrong or that they’re doing something shameful.

Instead, offer a secure space for them to be ready to express themselves freely, without censure. “It’s okay to feel bad.” or “Crying isn’t an indication of weakness; it would facilitate you feel a touch better.”

 3. Don’t urge someone to beat their distress quickly

“Go out and meet some people!” or “You just have to get out of bed and exercise!”

Depression affects a person’s motivation and energy levels. If they were feeling good, they might move out and meet people or exercise, but they’re not within the space to try to do so at the instant.

Allow them the liberty and space to process their pain at their own pace; be a good listener, and let them know that you’re around if they need you for something—like making them a simple meal, helping out with cleaning their living area, or running an errand for them.

Understanding depression or knowing how to talk to someone with depression is tough. Sometimes it comes with an emotional crisis, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, major depressive disorders and immediate risk of suicide warning signs.3

You can say to your loved one, “I can come across and spend your time with you if you wish; we don’t should talk, I can just keep you company.” or “Do you wish me to try to to something for you? Anyway, I will be of help right now.”

talk to someone with depression
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4. Avoid tough love

“Do you even want to urge better? Just snap out of it!” or “If you don’t stop being like this, I won’t be able to refer to you anymore.”

Recovery takes time, and they need your support and patience. Don’t give them ultimatums or coerce them to reclaim quickly.

Instead, know how to talk to someone with depression, like sharing that their distress worries you in an exceedingly helpful way by saying, “I am worried about you. Is there anything I can do to help?” or “I understand that you simply are struggling. Would you like some company? We don’t need to talk.”

5. Replace condescending/patronizing remarks with genuine encouragement

“Oh, look who’s up early!” or “Wow, someone finally cleaned their room, eh?”

Someone living with depression may find it hard to finish activities of daily living—like waking up on time, keeping their living area clean, cooking their meals, and running errands.

They can sometimes accomplish these things with some effort. On these occasions, rather than being condescending or sarcastic, it’s constructive to encourage or compliment them; this also lets them know that you are tuned in to the trouble they’re making.

You can say, “Hey, nice to see you awoken from sleep early. Would you like to induce breakfast?” or “Your room looks very nice. It must have taken you a while to try it!”

6. Don’t force them to speak with you

“Why aren’t you speaking to me?” or “If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, how can I help you?”

People living with depression may come in non-communicative spells once they find it hard to articulate their thoughts or discuss their feelings; they will also be unable to discuss what’s bothering them. In these situations, don’t force them to speak to you. Instead, let them know you are there to pay attention after they can talk and offer your company in silence.

You can instead say, “I understand you don’t want to talk. Are we able to just spend it slow in silence if you’d like?” or “You don’t seem to require speaking about it. That’s okay, but know that after you are ready, I’m here for you.”

7. Understand that compliments could backfire

“You are stronger than this.” or “I know you’ll beat this soon.”

You may desire to offer a compliment and reassuring your dear that they’ll get out of this soon could be a nice gesture, but they’ll already be battling thoughts of feeling unloved or worthless, and therefore the gesture could lead them to believe that they’re not trying hard enough; or make them want they’re letting you down.

Instead, you’ll offer to concentrate on their struggles or gently suggest professional help. You can offer phrases like “I’ve never seen you like this. Would you want to talk about it?” or “You seem to be struggling quite a bit. Do you want to talk to someone about it? I could include you.”

talk to someone with depression
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Bottom Line

The treatment and recovery from depression are difficult for many individuals. Depression can be very damaging. Even an appointment or finding a doctor might be overwhelming for your beloved. Depression also affects thoughts negatively. The depressed person might think the situation is hopeless and that the treatment is useless.

Treat them like you probably did before they were depressed. They’ll be in an exceeding slump, but they are not their depression—they are still the identical ones you liked and acknowledged before.

Nonverbal communication can go a long way in letting them know that you are there for them. Offer a hug or a pat on the back to help them understand they have your support. It is natural to want to know what’s troubling your loved one and feel helpless after you don’t understand how to assist them in making a return.

Wait and see with them; allow them to understand that opening to you is safe and there is no judgment, one that they will rely upon. While you’ll have their best interest inside and know them better than anyone else, you wish to urge them to seek professional help when their distress is prolonged. And once they do this, encourage them to remain in the treatment and support them.

  1. Solomon, A. R. I., David AF Haaga, and Bruce A. Arnow. “Is clinical depression distinct from subthreshold depressive symptoms? A review of the continuity issue in depression research.” The Journal of nervous and mental disease 189.8 (2001): 498-506. ↩︎
  2. Mann, J. John, et al. “Suicide prevention strategies: a systematic review.” Jama 294.16 (2005): 2064-2074. ↩︎
  3. Rudd, M. David, Jeffrey M. Goulding, and Cory J. Carlisle. “Stigma and suicide warning signs.” Archives of Suicide Research 17.3 (2013): 313-318. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology

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Sathi Chakraborty, MSc Biology
  1. Having read your article, I am much more appreciative of my good mental health. I am experiencing extreme agony for those who are depressed. The several recommendations you provided are quite beneficial for helping those who are depressed. Are you correct? A calm environment and heartfelt communication can help those with depression symptoms recover.

  2. Having read your article, I am much more appreciative of my good mental health. I am feeling pain for those who are depressed. The several recommendations you provided are quite beneficial for helping those who are depressed. You are correct. A calm environment and heartfelt communication can help those with depression symptoms recover.

  3. Hey,your article is amazing, I just read it and you genuinely mentioned the real problems of depression,the points you mentioned are seriously need to be taken in consideration when talking to someone in depression but most of the time we turn out doing the opposite,but yeah must say an indeed helpful article, definitely will keep the points into consideration when the next time having a conversation with someone who is depressed!

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