Yesterday, social media was awash with a certain controversial tweet by the senior pastor of Daystar Christian Centre Sam Adeyemi where he stated that sound health was part of our salvation package and that the root cause of mental illness is sin. Though many disagreed with this statement, everyone would agree with the part where he stated – “Mental illness is as real as physical illness and the lack of understanding gives room for a lot of ignorance and stigmatization.” However, because of the lack of knowledge, most people often feel depression is overrated and so watching their every utterance might not seem necessary to them, which really shouldn’t be. When a person is depressed caution is key because at that point the individual is vulnerable and blurting out the first thing that comes to mind would deliver an even bigger blow. 5 insensitive statements you should avoid telling a depressed person;
1. “Get over it”
Nobody decides to be depressed, so you can’t just walk right to a depressed person and say get over it, as if it’s the simplest thing in the world to do. Uttering that statement doesn’t help in the least, it just makes the person angry, like you think they’re just exaggerating matters. Depression is a serious matter that should be dealt with sensitively; prescribed medication, therapy can help but making that statement doesn’t in the least.
2. “It’s not that bad”
Depression is a genuine medical condition that shouldn’t be undermined. You obviously don’t know how the person is feeling so you can’t know for sure it isn’t that bad. Most times, the pain is usually deeper than what you see on the surface, so try as much as you can not to come to any conclusion about how they’re feeling – after all, you weren’t there when it all began so you can’t know/ understand the intensity of whatever that might have triggered the depression.
3. “Think of all the things you have to be happy about!”
Depressed people aren’t delusional, of course, they know what they have achieved and identifying their many achievements isn’t a problem. However, there certain aspects of their lives that they just wish could be sorted, and in their perception, this totally outweighs any past achievement. So no, they don’t need you pointing it all out, they are functional human beings who can see and quite clearly too.
4. “Some people have it so much worse than you”
We all have problems individually, so you might not have the best advice for someone else. Don’t go painting the picture of utter bleakness just to make a depressed person feel better, it never helps, it only makes them more upset and guilty, because according to you, they don’t deserve to feel bad, as their situation isn’t quite as serious as the “man on the streets.” So they end up feeling like weaklings who can’t control their “trivial problems.” Not helping matters.
5. “You’ll be fine”
If said the wrong way, can appear uncaring and cold, like you just want to dismiss them. Your tone and mannerisms matter. Aiming for reassurance; then you could do with a warm hug and smile while saying this. You need to let the person know you mean it and aren’t just uttering for lack of what to say or delivering an empty promise of a bright future. A depressed person most likely would fail to see the good bits of their lives, so you can offer your support by being there every step of the way as they journey to recovery.
Depression isn’t something to be toyed with, it’s a serious condition that needs urgent attention, it’s not an exaggerated feeling so stop with the jest.