How to make someone who is trying to overcome depression feel worse and set them back a few steps in their struggle:
Tell them they are doing it wrong – You shouldn’t take medicine. Just choose happiness! Look at the positives in your life! How can you be sad when you have . . . (fill in the blank) Have you tried . . . ? (exercise, meditation, other – fill in the blank with things that yes they’ve probably tried.)
The most well-meaning, kind, sweet people in the world who would never hurt anyone purposely can make this mistake and hurt someone deeply while trying to help. I know this disorder (yes disorder, not bad mood) is near impossible for some people to understand. If I were someone who had never had it, I think I wouldn’t understand it either. (Sort of like I don’t understand how some people think cabbage is good or don’t like cheese – whaaat?) I have struggled to one degree or another with depression and anxiety all of my life – I remember being depressed, although I didn’t know the word yet – when I was just shy of 5 years old.
Please, if you know someone with depression (and/or anxiety – they often travel together), educate yourself before trying to give advice. Below are some links to helpful resources.
Article by Sylvia Kim
Make it OK. Stop Mental Illness Stigma.
The Hilarious World of Depression. The Hilarious World of Depression is a series of frank, moving, and, yes, funny conversations with people who have dealt with this disease, hosted by veteran humorist and public radio host John Moe.