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Why you should never say ‘cheer up’ to a friend who’s battling depression

Published on:16 September 2020, 10:06am IST
It’s not easy to understand what a depressed person is going through, so always be mindful of your words.
Nikita Bhardwaj
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Being sad and depressed are two different things. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We’ve often heard our friends say ‘just cheer up’ or ‘it’s just a phase’ when we’re down and out. But if you say the same things to a person battling depression, stop it right away. 

To begin with, we need to understand that depression is not just another mood swing, it is a serious mental illness that needs a much deeper understanding. 

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That’s exactly why you must think twice before trivialising a friend’s behaviour. You might have good intentions, but it’ll only hurt a person battling depression. 

But before that, let’s understand what depression is
Dr. Ishita Mukerji, senior psychologist, Kaleidoscope Mental Wellness Centre, emphasises on understanding the problem, before passing any judgment. 

Depression is a chronic ailment, where at times the low levels of neurotransmitters don’t let patients think straight. If someone is suffering from a cold or flu, you just can’t tell them to cheer up, then why should you be with a depression patient? Just like other illnesses, proper medication and therapy is required to cure them. You have to be sensitive, because it is not easy for them, and they feel drained all the time” she explained.

It’s easier said than done, but confiding in someone about what you feel can do you a world of good. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here’s why you shouldn’t use phrases like ‘cheer up’ with a depressed person
Do you really think that someone who is depressed is willing to be in this situation? Although they want to get rid of their symptoms, they are helpless! Using phrases like ‘cheer up’ and ‘it’s just a phase’ can often demotivate them. This is because they’ll start believing that they aren’t doing enough to get out of this situation!

“You can never say, but such phrases might make them feel more pathetic about themselves, and can also make the situation worse. Also, by using such phrases, you are trivialising the problem of that person”, she says.

Instead say this, and become their confidante
It’s easy to dismiss their feelings and trivialise their situation, but if you lend a non-judgmental ear, and try to offer help, they might feel better. Exercising empathy with a depressed patient is critical; it will help them feel secure around you. Don’t be overbearing, but be there for them when they need you!

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“Empathy is key. Validate their feelings, and more than anything, be accepting of what they’re going through,” she suggests.

But if you feel that the situation is going out of hand, even when you’ve been around for them, then don’t hesitate to seek help. Call on any mental health related helpline number and get the best advice to tackle this situation!

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Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.