15 Harmful Phrases People Need To Stop Saying To People With Depression

One of the worst things you can do when addressing a person with depression is to say stupid, idiotic things they’ve heard a bazillion times that are not helpful. Sometimes people feel the need to offer advice. Still, it can honestly make a person feel worse when it’s unwarranted and unfounded. For example, here are some things women volunteered they are tired of hearing.

1. There Are People Who Have It Worse

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Right? But let’s not do comparative suffering. The fact that someone has had what you deem “worse” than my situation doesn’t negate that my problem is worse for ME. And it is OK for you not to be alright with your circumstances and feelings. Although, nobody should try to shame you out of having them.

2. You’ve Got a Roof Over Your Head and Food on the Table. What Do You Have To Be Sad About?

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Plenty. Look around, and frankly, it’s none of your business. So why do people feel comfortable telling others what they should be grateful for? Moreover, because they have things, they can’t be depressed or suffer. Nobody knows a person’s walk or path in life. It’s insulting to hear that when you have suffered significant traumas.

3. It’s All in Your Head

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“Of course, It’s all happening in your head, Harry. But why on Earth would that mean it’s not real?” – Albus DumbledoreSeriously? One noted, of course, depression is all in your head. If you get pneumonia, it’s all in your lungs, but that doesn’t make it any less real or serious. Does it?

I appreciated when another stated, That it’s not all in your head. Your head causes it, sure. But, still, the “manifestations of mental illnesses are often in our bodies as well – digestive problems, joint/muscle pain, changes in blood pressure, migraines, etc.” So, yes, it may all start with your head, but the psychosomatic effects are authentic.

4. You Are Not Depressed. You Are Just Lazy

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The audacity of someone saying this to you is asinine. But, unfortunately, women confessed to hearing this from families and partners. One confessed, “I hate this one as much as I hate being told to pay attention even though I have ADHD.” PREACH.

5. Have You Tried Going for a Walk?

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OK. Asking people who can barely get out of bed or brush their teeth if they’ve tried going for a walk is silly and insulting to the person experiencing that type of depressive state. Yet, people ask it all of the time.

While getting into nature can bring significant mental health boosts, it’s not a “cure for depression,” no matter how many times you share that “inspirational meme” on social media suggesting otherwise.

6. God Doesn’t Give Us Anything We Can’t Handle

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Oof. I am guilty of hearing and repeating this one, and I am sorry. Whether your bible instructs you of this or not, it’s not helpful to hear, especially if they are a non-believer. It’s hurtful to many. Imagine being in a terrible state of mind, and someone tells you that God knows you can handle it.

Maybe even subconsciously insinuating that God put you in that struggle or “test.” I know you think you’re helping because the scripture instills hope in your faith, but pressing that onto others who are not in that spot in their walk is harmful. Not helpful.

7. But You’re Always Laughing

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Your point? Do you know how many comedians suffer from mental illnesses and depression? The number of times I have laughed at the expense of my trauma, wholly disassociated from the pain, isn’t funny. But I’m still laughing. So are many others.

8. Just Think Positively!

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Right, why didn’t I think of that? Toss in a tap on the shoulder with a smile grinning ear to ear as you’re saying it, and thanks, I’m all set. There is such a thing as toxic positivity. Stop causing people with depressive disorders to internally eye-roll by advising, “Just think positively!”

9. Why Take Medications? They’re So Dangerous

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As someone in recovery, this one is trickier than many understand, and it’s rude to insinuate anything about somebody’s medication. For example, there are medications that you need to be wary of, or you can develop a dependency that leads to full-blown addiction.

However, many more medications do not fall into these categories and have proven helpful for several people in this thread, myself included. You have no idea how much medicine has aided a person’s ability to get out of bed, brush their teeth, go to work, care for their kids, and live another day. We know it’s dangerous, but our quality of life exists with it.

10. Pull Yourself up by the Bootstraps

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OK, this one was my dad’s favorite. I love him, but he never understood mental health and depression. He did not comprehend that you could laugh through your sadness and still feel incapacitated while on life’s hamster wheel.

Telling someone to “pull their bootstraps up,” or another of my father’s favs, “dust yourself off and get back into the game.” I remember thinking, “I don’t want to play the game, dad,” so that’s not motivating or helpful. But I forgive him; he genuinely didn’t know. It’s awesome you’re here, ensuring that you now know.

Finally, people have self-harming tendencies. I don’t. But I imagine hearing any of these things does more harm than good. You never know what someone is entirely going through, thinking, feeling, or believing about themselves.

So be kind. Sometimes holding your tongue is the best way to support someone confiding in you about their depression. People want to feel and be heard. Let them.

11. Just Be Happy

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When you feel the hopelessness and helplessness of depression, it is insulting to hear someone tell you to “Just be happy.” Unfortunately, I honestly heard that as a response to my own depression years ago. It doesn’t help.

12. You’re Too Young To Be Depressed

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Imagine being depressed about something and having someone dismiss it because of your age. People have feelings. We are all humans. That includes children, teens, adults, and seniors. No one is immune from having a human experience. But sadly, many dismiss children and teens as “not living long enough to know real pain or struggle.”

13. But There Are So Many Things To Be Happy About

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There are millions of things to be happy about, just as many that are miserable. Unfortunately, hearing that there are things to be satisfied with doesn’t magically make you happy. Saying this can cause a person in a depressive state to feel guilt over not feeling happy, only worsening the situation.

14. You Should Try My MLM Herbal Supplements

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The fact that these predatory huns shilling snake oils and false hope use real disorders to scam people is infuriating. I remember reading about a woman who had lost her baby. Then, less than a week later, an MLM boss babe was in her DMs trying to sell her Thrive because it would boost her mood—the audacity.

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15. Maybe You Should Get Out of Bed

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Finally, suggesting that maybe someone should just get out of bed when they are depressed is not helpful. Again, it helps to add to the guilt they may already feel lying there. If they could get up and move, they would. There is a mental state that you may not understand, but it exists, and it’s not laziness. It’s existential dread and paralyzing for many. Be kind and listen. Don’t try to solve anyone’s depression.

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This post was originally published and syndicated by Sober Healing.





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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.