By Dr Phang Cheng Kar
Major Depression is a severe medical condition that negatively affects the way we think, feel, and act. Effective treatment of depression includes good social support. Despite with good intention, we sometimes say things that are unhelpful or may worsen a person’s depression:
Don’t be lazy; you’re wasting your time! WHY NOT? Feeling tired all the time and loss of interest in activities are common symptoms of depression. “Lazy” implies that the person is making it up. Say: It must be very frustrating feeling tired and moody all the time.
Nothing is impossible; think positive and be strong. WHY NOT? Having Depression is an illness, not a weakness. Many great people in the world had depression. Say: I’m sure it’s tough going through all the difficulties. Maybe you’re too strong for too long, and it’s time for more self-compassion.
Be grateful; many people have a worse experience. WHY NOT? This response may be invalidating the emotional pain of a depressed person. They may think, “Yes, I’m ungrateful. People can move on, but I can’t. I’m a burden to others.” Say: It’s unfortunate that many bad things had happened to you. Thank you for sharing your experience. We’ll see what we can do to help you.
It’s a result of your bad karma or sin; do more good and let go-lah! WHY NOT? We may worsen guilt, shame, and worthless feeling which are common in depression. Say: Bad things sometimes do happen in life and nobody knows why. It happened to me (share your experience). It’s painful. Let’s try to move on together.
How long more do you want to be depressed? WHY NOT? Being depressed is not a deliberate choice. People with depression are often victims of abuse and discrimination. Say: Wow, you’ve been struggling for so long. Well done for not giving up. Let me know if there’s anything that I can support. We care for you.