Common Phrases That Minimize Those With Depression (and How to Combat Them)


Opening up about depression can be a complicated process. At times there will be genuine support, encouragement and consideration. When the compassion is heartfelt and meaningful it can be a boost of confidence. The assurance is always appreciated, but what about when the people in our circles fail us? How can we face these hurtful assumptions with bravery and determination? First, we must recognize these phrases hold no power over our pain or struggles. By understanding the ignorance of these comments we can equip ourselves with the ability to persevere.

Somebody else has it worse than you.”<

Your feelings are valid. Our journeys are not a competition. Everybody has a personal struggle, but not everybody will understand yours. Don’t let them invalidate your battle with depression because they don’t understand. Remember there are those who do. Somebody out there cares. Somebody out there appreciates you and your courage.

“Get over it.”

Insensitivity is a common factor among these phrases. Though depression exists at different levels, for many it is not something to just “get over.” It takes time, reflection and healing. It’s an effort that can be lifelong. You may still be struggling, but at the end of the day, you continue to move forward.

“It’s not that serious.”

Depression may stem from a variety of factors. Some of these factors are unseen, which may cause some to question you. It may be unknown to them, but it is significant to you. They may try to minimize you, but you are bigger than that. You don’t need to prove anything to them whatsoever. Your experience matters.

“You don’t look depressed.”

When a certain look, attitude or background is assumed, those who do not fit the image of depression are often forgotten. Depression is not a look. Depression is not trendy or stylish. Depression affects people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, races and ethnicities. There isn’t any one way to look when you have depression.

“All you want is attention.”

When you speak up about your depression, you may be dismissed as an attention seeker. This is simply not the case. Rejection can result in a hurtful cycle. Attacks are not productive. Labeling those who are depressed is also damaging. But you know the truth. You simply want answers. You want to find solutions. You want to feel like yourself again but may even struggle to know what that means. You may want to just function without overthinking and criticizing yourself all the time. You want to find acceptance. You want to be received and loved. Remember what you truly want at the end of the day, and don’t let anybody derail you or decide what you ultimately deserve.

“What will other people say?”<

Though we are beginning to break down the stigmas of depression and other mental disorders and illnesses, there is still more to do. When others belittle your experience with depression, they are focusing too much on the prejudices and judgments that marginalize us to begin with. It’s not about what people say, especially if they don’t understand. It’s about what we do to support each other. It’s about making sure we have access to the treatments of our choosing.

“Stop being lazy, and do something about it.”

Depression can take on an immobilizing state that leaves many feeling as though they don’t have any options. You may even withdraw altogether. Friends are not always mindful of the language that they use. Words like “lazy,” “crazy” “and “dramatic” can distance those who are depressed. Many often see the symptoms of depression, but don’t fully grasp where it comes from. What may appear to be laziness might actually be fatigue, sleepiness or restlessness. Those who are depressed may not know help is out there. I certainly did not, but finding somebody trustworthy can make all the difference. Speak up. Don’t let others define you. If your group of friends is toxic or negative, reach out to other people.

“Quit being so selfish.”

On the other hand, people may assume you’re being self-centered. Part of my healing requires me to practice self-care, especially when days are stressful. We are all trying to balance the chaos of our lives, and in doing so we need to pay attention to what our bodies and minds need. You aren’t selfish for choosing to stay in and relax. You aren’t selfish for planning a getaway trip for one when the demands of the life become too much to handle. You aren’t selfish for reading your favorite book at night or enjoying a candlelit bath. You are worthy of all of these things. Your needs come first. Your desires and wants are most important.

Many people don’t realize how draining and exhausting depression is. Some may see the external changes without understanding the internal causes. Others may see the internal changes without understanding the external causes. Many of us sacrifice for our families, friends and significant others without receiving any recognition in return. Getting to a place where we can be open and honest about our conditions is not easy. The negative and ignorant reactions can become discouraging. We don’t always put ourselves first, sometimes we put ourselves last, and that is not fair. If anybody attempts to twist these moments of reflection and healing against you, know they are wrong. You have been through so much, and you have overcome a lifetime of hurt and suffering. Not everybody gets it, and not everybody is going to, but when it comes down to it, isn’t it time to live for you?

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one phrase you wish people would stop saying about your (or a loved one’s) disability, disease or mental illness? Why? What should they say instead? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


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