Wenceslao Vial, Depression What to say and what not to say

Dealing with depression with optimism

Depression affects almost 15% of the world's population. The current circumstances of a coronavirus pandemic, insecurity and isolation may increase it. It is key to know what to say and not to say to those suffering from depression. The first step is prevention, followed by a good diagnosis. See also useful advice for the spiritual direction of the sick.

                Things not to say in depression:

    1. You have to shake yourself out of it, you have to react
    2. Don't just stand there thinking, have some fun
    3. I mean, there are a lot of people who are worse off than you
    4. You don't have to sit there feeling sorry for yourself
    5. It’s just your imagination
    6. You have to grow up, don't be the victim
    7. You don't need anything extra to be happy
    8. You don't look so bad. You look great!
    9. It's just a little stress. Little rest and a good tonic and it all goes away
    10. Things aren't so bad, are they?
    11. You gotta get out more, you gotta have fun.
    12. You only need to find a woman (or man)
    13. You should have more sex, that's what’s missing
    14. Do as I do, when I'm a little down I take a nice hot bath and after that I feel like another person
    15. Smile and the world will smile back
    16. Everyone gets depressed sooner or later
    17. Throw yourself into work
    18. But you don't look depressed
    19. I think you're doing this to get attention
    20. Bad days happen to everyone
    21. At your age, you should be enjoying life to the fullest
    22. By acting like this, you not only hurt yourself, but you also hurt those around you
    23. Just want it, with will power you can get anything
    24. You need to make more of an effort, you don't have to give up
    25. I never thought you'd be so fragile
    26. Go out, go buy yourself something you like, you'll get better afterwards
    27. You should pray more, entrust yourself to God (as if the cause were a spiritual lack)
    28. You asked for it
    29. You have no reason to feel this way
    30. At your age it's normal to be depressed, life doesn’t have anything positive left
    31. It's one of your weaknesses
    32. They are trials that the Lord sends us (as if the cause were a spiritual lack)
    33. What are you worried about? You should be happy, there’s nothing missing in your life
    34. Just don't think about it
    35. You’re making me depressed too
    36. The world isn't so bad
    37. Don't think about the past, just throw yourself into the present
    38. You need to find yourself a hobby, a leisure, an interest
    39. What if something really serious happened to you, what would you do?
    40. Maybe you need a strong pain to shake yourself up and get you to react
    41. Throw away all your meds and you'll be fine
    42. Stop complaining and get busy
    43. Go and help those who need you most and you'll see that you'll overcome the urge to complain
    44. You listen too much to doctors, we'd all be sick if we listened to them
    45. We all have our own crosses to bear
    46. No one is responsible for your depression
    47. Take a nice holiday and you'll get everything you need

              Things to say in depression:

    1. I'll stay close to you and I won't abandon you even in the most difficult moments
    2. It's just a time that will pass and I'll help you out
    3. I can only offer you a shoulder to cry on, but at least you can count on that
    4. Depression is a disease, it doesn't mean that you're a weak, incapacitated person, not capable of dealing with problems, or that you are crazy
    5. You have to convince yourself that this is a disease and we should not be ashamed of this: it can happen to all of us
    6. I can stay close to you and try to do everything possible to help you, but this isn't enough, you have to rely on the care of a specialist
    7. I understand that it's hard and tiring for you to do anything, but if you lean on me, we can do it
    8. If you need to let off steam you can do it with me, I will know how to listen to you and I assure you right now that what you tell me is just gonna be between the two of us
    9. You are not crazy, you are simply depressed and depression is a disease that can be cured
    10. [in the early stages of treatment] The psychiatrist warned you that it takes a few days to see the effects of the therapy and that at this stage there are frequent side effects: this is what’s happening. You have to clench your teeth and wait, you'll see that you'll start to feel better
    11. You have to put yourself in the hands of a good psychiatrist and follow his/her care and advice (or, if he is already in care: "listen to your psychiatrist and follow the treatments he has given you")
    12. I can listen to you and give you the answers that common sense suggests; but if you feel the need for psychological help, talk to your psychiatrist who can give you better advice
    13. [to an elder] Every age has its positive aspects and when you’ve overcome this phase of depression you'll come back to appreciate this aspects as you did until recently
    14. I can imagine your suffering and your anguish. I'm close to you
    15. From what you say I can understand how you feel and I can imagine how difficult it is for you to deal with them
    16. [to an elder] Depression can affect both the young and the elderly and care is as effective in one as in the other
    17. When this is over, our friendship/affection will come out stronger
    18. Of course, seeing you suffer like this makes me feel bad, but you don't have to worry about that. For the people we love, we can go through anything
    19. You don't have to thank me. I'm here because I want to be and the best thanks will be to see you smiling again
    20. Lean on me, and I'll try to support you until you can walk by yourself
    21. It's hard for me, who haven't experienced it, to imagine what you're saying, but I can understand how much you are suffering
    22. You are and always will be important to me

Versión en español: Depresión: saber qué decir y no decir

Translated and adapted: Wenceslao Vial