What can we say to a person experiencing depression?


What can we say to a person experiencing depression?

What can we say to a person experiencing depression?

Depression is like the ‘common cold’ of mental illnesses/disorders. It is not uncommon by any stretch of our imagination, and it certainly can penetrate the lives of people to varying degrees. The reasons for this can be varied and complex, but speaking from a clinical perspective there are distinct differences between ‘having the blues’ and feeling sad, and actually that of experiencing moderate to clinically severe depression. Having experienced a Major Depressive Disorder myself which included ECT treatment, depression of this form could be described as an utter complete sensation of nothingness, often beyond feeling sad where there seems NOTHING left. Sadness (from my own experience) was still relevant, but most of the time there was a feeling of nothingness. It was complete emptiness. Most people with depression experience a loss of hope and/or feel helpless often completely. From my battle with depression it seemed that there was nothing left, just nothing. But, whether one believes it or not, YES, something CAN actually be done. There IS hope! Words can be shallow and this should be acknowledged, but walking down the path of suicidal ideation, depression, denial and so much more from my own experience, a loss of hope and so-forth CAN actually be overcome, bit by bit in time. There is no simple solution of course and it can be very difficult not only for those actually experiencing depression and related problems, but also for others in their lives too.

What can we do? What can we say to a person experiencing depression? One thing that springs to my mind for others who may be trying to help are things that would be better off NOT said such as “just snap out of it”. It does not happen like this. It would be wonderful, but it is actually unrealistic to a large degree. However, through my experience, will-power and a willingness to get better is absolutely paramount as part of the ‘ingredients in the recipe’ to progress from total complete and utter nothingness, to stages of improvement and ideally to a stage of sub-clinical depression (which is more-or-less not having depression any more), but there are still also other very important factors that are crucial in the recovery. Some other things (verbal comments) that are NOT particularly helpful to a person experiencing depression (some things that are better off NOT said) are:

* “Oh, it’s all in your mind”.

* “Stop feeling sorry for yourself”.

* “There are plenty of people worse off than you”.

* ” You have so many things to be thankful for”.

* ” You think YOU’VE got problems”.

* “You should stop taking all those pills”.

* “Pull yourself together”.

* “You need to get out more”.

* ” Oh look, everybody gets depressed sometimes”.

* “Just don’t think about it”.

* “You’re making me depressed as well”.

* “I thought you were stronger than this”.

* “Have you tried some herbal tea?”

* “We all have problems, we have to get ourselves together sometime”.

For a person experiencing depression, hearing these things are not helpful at all. A person experiencing depression will more likely even be even harder on themselves. It is difficult to know how to help. However, some ‘simple’ things can be useful-

* “I love you”.

* ” I care”.

* ” I won’t leave you, you are not alone”.

* ” You are important to me”.

* “We will get through this together”.

* “I will be with you in better times AND in worse times”.

* “I can see how hard this is for you”.

There is no quick fix (such as snapping out of it). There is much wonderful help though. There are some very good treatments for depression including the value that doctors can have in part of our recovery of depressive disorders. There are many many things we can do and arguably many things not to do, although most therapists would accept many ‘not to do things’ as a widespread guide of recognised ‘advice’, and many ‘to do’ things as recommended, helpful strategies that have a solid foundation of theory when put into practice, can reveal marvelous healing results one small attainable step at a time.

Here at Beyond My Label, we offer peer support. We have peer support workers who understand things like stigma and barriers that people face. Contact Paul any time, and we can arrange a peer support worker for you.

Paul: paul@beyondmylabel.com.au




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