Words matter, especially when it comes to talking to someone with depression and anxiety. If you are a true friend or a member of the family, your words must be as helpful and supportive as they can.
Depression is a difficult condition that will require cooperation and support of family and friends. It is a mental illness that makes it harder for the patient to take action towards the road to getting better. Anxiety is also a mental health issue that is a challenge to handle. This is why it is important for the people around the depressed and anxious person to be careful of what they say. You have to avoid some statements that can worsen the situation. As what Ilene S. Cohen, PhD used to say “it’s hard to be yourself when you’re constantly worried about how other people will perceive what you have to say and do.”
Get over it!
Getting over a physical or mental health disorder is just plain implausible. No one can tell you to get over your heart disease or diabetes, right? This is the same when it comes to depression and anxiety. “The presence of anxiety, of a depressive mood or of a conflict within the mind, does not stamp any individual as having a psychological problem because, as a matter of fact, these qualities are indigenous to the species,” says Charles Goodstein, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical Center in New York City.
This statement might be the worst you can say to someone with mental health disorders. It wasn’t the choice of the patient to have depression and anxiety in the first place. What you can do instead is to ask “What can I do for you?” and be willing to help.
A lot of people have it worse than you.
People with depression and anxiety probably know this already and feel guilty about it. You don’t need to make them feel worse and caption their nightmare. Understand that every person has different levels of resilience in problems. If the person feels truly down, be explicit in saying that you care for him or her and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of feeling what he or she feels.
You can’t tell a person to stop feeling what and how they feel. It doesn’t work that way, especially when it comes to people with depression and anxiety. While they may be aware of what they must do, most of the time, they can’t really act on it. What can help is providing them a logical reason that can hopefully open their eyes and make things clearer. Suggest means or methods of treatment while providing support and understanding.
This is the statement that the American Psychiatric Association claims to be a derogatory language. This goes along with the words:
APA also believes that it is better to say that “a person has depression” rather than saying “that person is depressed”. The former shows that depression is only an aspect of the person’s life, while the latter seems to describe the person.
Just do something about it!
What makes depression and anxiety more difficult is that the disorders can immobilize a person. The actions of a person with depression and anxiety are usually the result of their uncontrollable feelings. Saying this statement is entirely vague. Instead, you can say, “Let’s talk to somebody who knows what to do if you are clueless on what you can do.” Remember, “it’s OK to make mistakes simply because it is impossible for humans not to make mistakes and experience some regret,” says Suma Chand, MPhil, PhD.
You don’t need medication; you can pull through this.
Only say this if you are a mental health professional. While there are indeed other treatments that work for depression and anxiety, including exercise and psychotherapy, there are cases when medication is necessary and considered “first aid”. Antidepressants can regulate hormonal imbalance that causes depression and anxiety. It will be needed for extreme situations.
Everything will be OK.
Yes, you believe that everything will be okay, but someone with depression and anxiety is vague in that aspect. Help him or her to stay positive and be encouraging by taking action. You can suggest something that you two can do together in order to show support. Simply let your presence be known.