You think you’re the only one with problems? WHY NOT? We have different strength and weakness in coping with problems. It’s not helpful to compare. Say: I also have issues (share your experience). We have different strength and weakness. We can help each other to solve issues.
Stop pretending to be depressed! WHY NOT?Nobody pretends to have cancer. The same applies to depression, an illness with neurobiological changes in the brain and body. Say: Perhaps you don’t have to try so hard pretending to be happy. Sometimes, it’s OK not to be fine. I know you’ve tried your best. It’s a horrible illness.
You must be too free and thinking too much. WHY NOT?: It’s not an issue of too free. A person with depressive mood has biochemical abnormalities in the brain that cause them to have no strength to work. Say: Feeling restless and like you’re wasting time is an awful experience. Let’s start with doing the easy tasks.
Your family will be hurt if you die of suicide. WHY NOT?: People with depression want to end their pain; not their lives. Don’t add more pain by making them feel sorry for feeling suicidal. Say: Depression is painful. It’s understandable that you wish to end the pain. Depression is treatable. Let’s seek professional help for the pain.
Your depressive mood will become a form of negative energy to others. WHY NOT?: A depressed person knows that being negative is unhealthy. We might make them feel guilty for burdening others. Say: It’s unavoidable for a person suffering from depression to feel moody. Don’t feel bad as people wouldn’t blame you if they understand depression.
In brief, refrain from giving advice as it often makes things worse. Just listen with empathy and be supportive (e.g., offer tissue paper for crying, give a gentle pat on the shoulder). Let the mental health professionals offer advice. Your job is to listen and be patient with the patient.
*Online and expanded version of the article: https://tinyurl.com/depression-no-say
For more information, please call Dr. Phang’s Clinic,
Sunway Medical Centre 03 7491 6505 or email: email@example.com
Dr. Phang Cheng Kar (M.D.)
& Mindfulness-Based Therapist,
Sunway Medical Centre.