1. “If only you worked harder, you wouldn’t be as depressed.”
This insinuates that they are lazy, unwilling to work hard, and not good enough to suffer through grueling work. Chances are, in the past, they were told that they simply needed to work harder, which made them hate who they inherently were in the first place because they’ve felt like they’re always falling short whenever someone demanded them to do more, even when they put in their best effort. Blaming them for being lazy only exacerbates the resentment they have towards themselves.
2. “You have no right to be depressed because impoverished people have to suffer more than you.”
Saying this only makes depressed people feel ashamed about what they’re going through as if their problems are trivial and insignificant. But being emotionally abused, having your worth questioned, hating who you are, and feeling ostracized are not trivial problems – they’re real struggles that aren’t easy to overcome and will only get worse when they’re ignored for the sake of keeping up with the appearance of normalcy.
3. “You’re lucky you get to choose what to be upset about. Others don’t have the privilege.”
Depressed people don’t choose what to be depressed about. They suffer because they’ve had experiences in the past that made them feel worthless, useless, and unwanted, so calling them “lucky” is counterproductive and detrimental to their mental wellbeing. They’re not lucky, they’re hurting.
4. “Go get a better job.”
This simple sentence is demeaning to people who suffer from depression. First of all, you’re implying that they aren’t productive or smart enough to prove that they are deserving of a higher salary and a more prestigious position. Secondly, you’re assuming that if they had more money, their depression would automatically be healed, but you’re ignorant of their strengths, weaknesses, and what they actually want out of life. They might have a difficult time getting better work because of the way countless rejections have made them question their abilities and value to society.
5. “You should go out and socialize more.”
When you say this, you’re insinuating that depression is their own fault (as if being naturally quiet is causing them to be depressed) and that if they were more outgoing, they would be happy all the time, which isn’t the case because being forced to socialize won’t help them get to the root of their depression: not being valued or accepted unconditionally.
6. “Just take stronger happy pills and you’ll recover.”
Ultimately, people need a sense of purpose, a place where they belong, and a few quality relationships that foster genuine growth. Depression can’t automatically be solved by popping more pills, and a lot of medication can have damaging side effects, so you can’t assume that pills are right for everyone.
7. “If only you accomplished more five years ago, you wouldn’t be as sad.”
Bringing up the past is always a mistake when you’re speaking to depressed people. Regardless of what they’ve done or haven’t done, there were many things that were out of their control and it’s unproductive to talk about how the past should have been different. This only paralyzes them and makes them feel like they’re not good enough to move forward.
8. “You need to work out more.”
Again, you’re implying that they’re lazy and unhealthy. They’re perfectly aware that a walk outside will make them feel better, but they’ll do that on their own terms when they’re not being forced to do so.
9. “Life isn’t fair. Get over yourself.”
They aren’t expecting life to be fair or in their favor, but they can’t “get over” their depression by just putting their mind to it. Depression is a condition with complexities that vary from person to person, and it’s impossible to expect to heal overnight. People can’t just ignore their feelings and expect that to make them better.
10. “If only you grew up faster and became more mature, you wouldn’t be mentally ill.”
By saying this, you’re assuming that they’re childish and entitled for having emotional pain that they can’t simply overcome with positive affirmations, but people who suffer from depression have dealt with more than their fair share of growing up in a manner that makes them feel jaded about life. Deep down, depressed people haven’t quite reconciled who they’re pressured to be and who they’d ideally want to be, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t mature enough. It’s just that they expect more from themselves and feel overwhelmed when they can’t keep up with internal and external demands or are forced to resign their true selves to appease anyone who holds power over them.
11. “It’s not them, it’s you. You’re the reason why people are mean to you.”
Most likely, depressed people have been targets of bullies so you cannot blame them for secluding themselves out of self-preservation because it’s not their fault that others have belittled them and made them feel excluded.
12. “If you smiled more, people would like you better and you wouldn’t feel as lonely or depressed.”
A fake smile cannot heal internal wounds or cure existential crises. Depressed people can’t force themselves to look happy all the time. Asking them to smile is a surefire way to make them feel worse about themselves.
13. “You’re too self-absorbed for your own good.”
Depressed people feel unfulfilled and underappreciated. Throughout their lives, they haven’t attended to their own needs enough because they probably were told that their goals were frivolous and not worth pursuing. In fact, this makes them anything but self-absorbed. What they really need is time to explore their interests without any guilt or shame.
14. “Quit crying and feeling sorry for yourself. You’re being a burden.”
They’ve beat themselves up enough from believing in the lie that they are burdens to society. There’s no need to compound upon this or make them feel more worthless than they already feel.
15. “You’re too weak and sensitive. Just toughen up.”
They are not weak for suffering and not healing themselves overnight. Toughening up will not make their depression go away, it will only intensify the tension within them.
16. “You’re not a normal person. There’s something wrong with you.”
Depressed people don’t need to be told that they need to be fixed because that only makes them feel like there’s something inherently wrong with them as if it’s something they have no control over. Expecting them to follow your definition of normal makes them feel like they can’t accept themselves as they are, focus on what they do best, or create their own future in a way that empowers them. What they really need is self-acceptance, time for self-healing and deep introspection, and a lifestyle that would enable them to reclaim the inner power that they’ve been taught to fear and suppress for so long.