Recently, I shared a post about what not to say to depressed people. I thought it was genius, because people say the things in the post all the time, and it gets on my freaking nerves.
But then a friend commented and asked, “But what DO we say? There are never any posts telling us what to say, just posts telling us off for saying the only things we can think of. We just want to help, but all we ever get are beatdowns for saying the wrong stuff” (Lauren, I’m paraphrasing, in case you read this).
So I decided to step in and fill that gap.
Ten Things TO Say To A Depressed Person
1. “I know you’re really hurting, and I’d like to help any way I can.”
We don’t often trust easily, but if you really mean it, and SHOW that you mean it, something like this can make all the difference.
2. “How can I be a better friend/help you better?”
We may not always have answers to these questions, because we don’t always know what we need, but sometimes we can point out ways that you could be better. This is not trying to manipulate you into our perfect version of a friend – this is trying to help you understand what helps and what hurts. Be prepared for constructive criticism, and know that it’s all in kindness.
3. “What are your triggers, so I can try to avoid them?”
Obviously, it’d be ridiculous for us to expect all our friends to consistently avoid every one of our triggers, but knowing that you’re willing to try is a huge help, and a big step to building our trust in you. Some say that we just need to learn to deal with our triggers – but how can you heal when your wounds are constantly torn open? Yeah, we need to come to terms with our triggers – but on our own time, not yours.
4. “I love you.”
Simple as that. Those three words can make all the difference. Who cares if it’s awkward? It shows us we have worth to another human being. It helps us know that we matter, that maybe the world wouldn’t be better off without us.
5. ” ”
Say nothing. Just listen. Just care. Having something to say for everything we try to tell you is not going to help, especially if it’s a fix-it method. Sit quietly and just listen.
6. “Can I hug you?”
Some of us may be freaked out by a hug, if you’ve never given us a hug before, or if we simply aren’t used to physical contact. So ask first… but the answer will almost always be yes.
7. “Can I pray for you, right now?”
For the Christians reading this, prayer can be a huge help. Take your friend’s hand if acceptable, or just bow your head and close your eyes, and pray for the person, out loud. Even if they don’t have the same faith, most of the time, it will make them feel a lot better.
8. “Here’s my number. Text me anytime you want. I’m here for you.”
Or Facebook, or email, or what-have-you. It’s an amazing help to have someone we know we can go to, for venting purposes, or to be comforted, or simply reassured that we’re not hopeless.
9. “I don’t know what you’re going through.”
It’s okay to admit it. In fact, we’d prefer that you did, rather than pretending to understand something you don’t – because if you don’t have depression, it’s very difficult, or even impossible, to grasp the full scope of how it feels and how it affects us.
10. “I’m here for you.”
If you mean it, this can lift a huge weight off of our shoulders. But don’t expect instant trust or full disclosure, because we’ve heard that line many times before, and it turns out not all the people who say it actually MEAN it.
Thank you for reading! Was this post helpful to you? Do you have any other suggestions?