1. “Just go outside more!”
Right, because going outside is the easiest part of any depressed person’s day, and the only thing stopping them from going for a light frolic through the local park is the fact that no one has told them how awesome it was! The thing is, a huge part of depression is not being able to navigate the world in the way you used to, and there is a good chance that they are trying desperately just to make it out to get basic food supplies if they are at a low point of an episode. It’s not that they don’t know how good fresh air feels, it’s that they can’t force themselves to do it without having a minor breakdown.
2. “You need more exercise.”
Everyone needs more exercise, and it can certainly help a lot of people with temporary bouts of sadness, but someone who experiencing clinical depression is not going to be greatly helped by upping their cardio routine. If a problem is much more chemical than it is psychosomatic, it is only going to feel insulting and condescending to be told all they need is to get on the treadmill more often. In fact, it’s very likely that the depressed person already has a decent amount of physical exertion in their life, that is just not the solution to their problems.
3. “Think of all the things you have to be happy about!”
There are very few depressed people who cannot clearly identify all of the awesome parts of their life, and who are unaware of the things they have to be grateful or happy about. The issue is not that they don’t realize their good fortune, it’s that these things are not points on an invisible scale that will suddenly outweigh the deep problem they are experiencing in their sick brain.
4. “You can’t be sad all the time.”
Yes, you can, and it’s called clinical depression.
5. “Do something that you enjoy!”
This GIF, courtesy of Tumblr, just about perfectly sums up the response to that kind of suggestion:
6. “We are overmedicated. You shouldn’t be taking a pill to make your life better.”
If you have ever shamed someone who has to take medication to help them live with and battle mental illness, I hope you get kicked in the shins really hard by a small child on your way to work, because you are a huge asshole.
7. “There are people that have it so much worse than you.”
The thing about other people having problems is that it generally has absolutely no bearing on the problems we live with individually. And especially when you’re talking to someone who is having an incredibly hard time putting things into perspective or regulating their own reactions to things, it’s about as meaningless a sentiment as you can possibly offer. The depressed person is only now going to feel even more guilty about experiencing psychological problems that they cannot control, and they aren’t going to be any closer to happiness or perspective. (In fact, they’ll likely be more upset because of it!)
8. “Why won’t you come out with us tonight?”
Because they cannot leave the house. They are not trying to punish you personally, they are likely lying on their bed in tears, trying to find the willpower to take a shower after several days of wearing the same clothes. It has nothing to do with you, and pressuring them to force themselves to be social helps no one. (Would you really want a person battling clinical depression to be at your dinner table? It probably wouldn’t be fun for anyone involved.)
9. “It’s all in your head.”
LOL, yes it is, would you like a cookie for that incredibly astute observation?
10. “It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.”
This is the fear, the one that you’re ripping out of their chest and dragging around in front of them when you say this. You see, they don’t even know themselves anymore, and are really afraid that they’ve changed into someone who will never be normal again — that all of the things they liked about themselves are gone, and that no one feels close to them the way they used to. When you say this to a depressed person, you are confirming all of their worst fears. Just don’t do it, it hurts more than you can imagine. Tell them what’s wrong, tell them what they are doing specifically, but don’t tell them you don’t know who they are. They need to believe that someone still does.