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When Depression Is in Your HomeWhat Not To Say To A Depressed Person

Sometimes well-meaning friends and relatives make things worse by talking to a depressed person in the wrong way. Depression is serious and complicated. There are no quick answers. Many parents feel responsible for their child's depression. But parents who respond to depression in any of the following ways will only make matters worse:

  • Pretending the depression is a “phase” the person is going through.
  • Making the person feel guilty—“You're bringing down this whole family!”
  • Punishing the person for acting out.
  • Constantly pushing him or her to live up to goals that are too difficult.
  • Lecturing the person about things he or she already knows—“You've got to stop looking like you lost your last friend!”

If you have a depressed friend, it's important to talk with the person about the problem. But watch what you say and how you say it. Here are some “don'ts” to remember if you expect to keep the lines of communication open:

  • Don't label or criticize—“Quit being such a grouch.”
  • Don't preach—“Now, you listen to what I'm going to tell you.”
  • Don't pretend the person's problem is not that bad—“Just get a good night's sleep. Things will be much better in the morning.”
  • Don't question or nag—“Come on, I know something's bothering you. Tell me what's on your mind.”
  • Don't be too kind or too harsh—“You're sick. Just stay in bed and let us take care of you.”
  • Don't suggest a simple solution to a serious problem—“Let's go to a movie and forget your troubles.”
  • Don't accuse the person of pretending to be sick—“Get off it. I know you're just doing this to get attention.”

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Science EncyclopediaDepressionDepression - When Depression Is in Your Home - How To Deal With Depression, What Not To Say To A Depressed Person, Be Kind To Yourself - To Guard Against Depression