3 Phrases You Should Never Say to a Loved One with Depression

When someone we love is struggling with depression, our natural instinct is to want to reach out and help them. Showing the right kind of support can help people with depression feel understood and begin to receive the care they need for this chronic mental condition.

If your spouse, child, friend, or another person close to you has not been diagnosed with depression, look for warning signs and symptoms such as:

  • Continuous periods of sadness, guilt, hopelessness, and/or displeasure in activities that once brought joy
  • Persistent irritability (especially in children)
  • Extreme fatigue and difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Stomach cramps, headaches, or other types of physical pain

Should these or other symptoms of depression occur daily for a period of nearly two weeks, kindly invite your loved one to seek medical help. Family health centers and clinics are a great place to start for the holistic approach they take in providing chronic care for depression.

Not sure how to approach this loved one with depression or what to say? Keep reading for 3 phrases you should avoid and what alternatives are better for starting a conversation and showing your sincere support.

1. “Cheer Up!” or “Think Positively!”

With the right medical help, individuals with depression can begin to develop positive habits that substitute negative thinking. However, this can take time and isn’t as easy for some people as it is for others.

What a loved one might hear when you tell them to think more positively or try smiling more is that their depression is of their own making and is not of merit. Instead, let them know that this isn’t their fault. They are not to blame. The more you let them know that, the more it can help little by little to lessen feelings of guilt.

2. “I Know How You Feel”

The truth is, you don’t know what’s going on inside another person’s head, and that’s okay. You don’t have to understand everything a loved one with depression is feeling to help them.

Rather than claim that you know how they feel, ask them and then listen! In many cases, an individual with this and other chronic mental conditions just wants to be heard. So, let them know that you want to listen and then do so without the intention of fabricating a certain response.

3. “Let Me Know if You Need Anything”

This can be a gut response for many people who notice someone struggling but don’t know how to help. However, placing the ball in their court may put unnecessary pressure on an individual with depression.

Clinical depression can greatly isolate an individual already, so don’t isolate them further despite your good intentions. Ask, “How can I help?” and then offer suggestions such as doing the dishes, taking out the trash, and other daily routines that can cause overwhelming stress when a person lives with depression.

Chronic Care for Depression from Compassionate Family Doctors

For individuals in St. George, UT, get mental health care for depression at Callahan Clinic. Our compassionate family doctors offer clinical depression services for patients of all ages, including pediatric mental health care. We’re here to help you or your loved one receive the care they need through an approach that’s best for their unique circumstances. Contact our family health center today for more information!


  1. https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.6.things.never.say.html
  2. https://www.psycom.net/5-phrases-to-help-someone-with-depression
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/worst-things-to-say-to-someone-who-is-depressed-1066982