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3 Things Not to Say to a Woman With Depression

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It could be worse.

What do you have to be depressed about?

Just try to be happy.

As someone who suffers from depression, these are just a few of the statements I hate to hear. Some people, and sometimes the people closest to us, don’t understand what depression is and how it affects us. Because they don’t understand, they might not know what to say. There are general statements that shouldn’t be used when referring to someone with depression, and there are specific statements that I, as a woman, really don’t want to hear.

1. “It’s your hormones.”

Not only is this statement completely misogynistic, it’s insensitive and intrusive. Implying a woman’s issues with depression are solely based on her “lady” hormones is like implying the President’s decisions are based on the weather.

2. “You’re just lonely.”

You need to get out more. You’re antisocial, that’s why you’re depressed. No. Depression can cause an individual to isolate themselves, but that doesn’t mean they like it. Even if a young woman suffering from depression does choose to be alone, her friends and family should be supportive of that instead of pushing her to “get out more” or say she is depressed solely because she is lonely.

3. “You don’t look depressed.”

Commenting on someone’s appearance at all is wrong, but telling a woman with depression she “doesn’t look depressed enough” is cruel. Someone who is uneducated about depression doesn’t realize it’s an illness on the inside; it’s invisible. It has nothing to do with how we look.

 It’s hard to know what to say to a young woman suffering from depression. Instead of the above statements, say things like, “I’m sorry you’re struggling,” “Can I spend time with you?” and “Is there anything I can do to help?”  Those statement might actually help us.

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Originally published: June 6, 2016
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