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10 Things to Say to a Loved One Who Struggles with Depression

shutterstock_1961611If you’ve ever been depressed, you know that awful feeling when well meaning people give advice that simply makes things worse.

There are lots of blogs that talk about what not to say to someone who is depressed.

Here are 10 positive things to say to help.

  1. I’m sorry you’re struggling, and wish I could make it better for you. This phrase doesn’t imply that you understand what they’re going through or that they need to do something. It simply states the truth, and your desire to help. It also provides sympathy.
  2. How can I help? Ask: do you need someone to watch your children? Do you need me to pick up prescriptions? I made too much lasagna tonight. Can I drop some off? Be as specific as you can, but allow space for them to ask for what their needs are. It may as simple as picking helping with housework for an hour.
  3. You are important to me, and I care about you. When someone is depressed, their mind can turn relationships around and make them believe that they are all alone in life. Even if it doesn’t make sense to you, verbalize what they mean to you. Send a card or flowers that simply say you’re thinking or praying for them.
  4. If you’re interested, I know a great therapist/psychiatrist. They may not be ready for that step, but in the future they will know at least one resource.
  5. I love you. Say this whenever you think of it. Say it whenever you see them. Feeling unloved goes hand in had with feeling depressed.
  6. Would you like me to come hang out for a bit? Depression isolates people, and for some, just having someone else around can be comforting. It could be that you watch a movie or knit, or just talk and gossip.
  7. Would you like me to tell ________ about this? ALWAYS, ALWAYS ask before you share personal information. Your loved one may want their pastor or other friends to know, but they may not. This decision needs to be completely respected.
  8. I know this feels as if it will last forever, but it won’t. Depression is like a big black hole that swallows light. People who are depressed may not be able to see an end to their pain. You, someone on the outside, can provide that hope for them.
  9. You are loved by many people. And list them. This is not a time for guilt –don’t say how awful Aunt Mary would feel if your friend killed themselves. It is a chance for you to remind them of their support group. Be careful that this doesn’t turn into blame or making them feel worse.
  10. You are a strong person, and I’ll help you however I can. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When people are depressed, they often feel weak and worn down. They may not know that you are someone who they can ask for help.

Loving someone with depression can be hard at times.

Treat your loved one as you would want to be treated if you had a serious illness, which depression is. Before you open your mouth, ask whether what you are going to say is helpful and kind. Unless it is both, you may want to rethink it.

10 Things to Say to a Loved One Who Struggles with Depression

Jenise Harmon, MSW, LISW-S

Jenise Harmon, LISW-S, is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Columbus, Ohio. She works with individuals and couples, and specializes in relationship counseling. She's now offering online counseling for residents of Ohio. Stay Connected . Follow her on twitter; and connect with her on Facebook.

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APA Reference
Harmon, J. (2015). 10 Things to Say to a Loved One Who Struggles with Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 19, 2020, from


Last updated: 27 Jan 2015
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