“Feeling sad or gloomy now and then is a perfectly normal part of human nature,” say the psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates, an outpatient psychiatry clinic in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “However, if you’re feeling rundown and hopeless day in and day out, no longer enjoying things that once gave you pleasure, this isn’t normal. This is depression, and it’s a real problem.”
For those who’ve never experienced the full smothering effect of clinical depression, it can be hard to understand. To any outside observers, the depressed person in question may appear simply grumpy or unappreciative of their lives. And, in truth, a lot of people suffering from depression don’t exactly have the worst lots in life.
“Depression may have a trigger, but it’s also a biological problem, a chemical imbalance in the brain,” explain the Ventre Medical Associates psychiatrists, all of whom are used to dealing with clinical depression. “Anyone can suffer from it. You don’t necessarily need to live in abject poverty or suffer abuse all your life. Even those with plenty of friends, money, success, and happiness can fall prey to depression.”
Unfortunately, this can lead to misunderstandings between the depressed individual and those around them. It can be tempting to look at someone suffering from depression and want to point out how well off they really are in life.
This seldom works, of course, because clinical depression runs deeper than that. “Don’t confuse depression with routine sadness,” warn the Ventre Medical Associates psychiatrists. “When someone is sad, you can cheer them up. When someone is depressed, it’s much more complicated.”
In other words, when dealing with the depressed, avoid giving in to the urge to utter the following phrases.
“There’s nothing really wrong with you. It’s all in your head.”
Technically, yes, depression is all in a person’s head because it affects their brains in real and uncontrollable ways. What depression is not, however, is imaginary or self-inflicted.
“You can’t think your way into depression, and you can’t think your way out of it,” explain the psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates. “It’s not a state of mind to be set aside. It’s a real medical disease that requires real professional treatment, and no amount of positive thinking alone can fix it.”
“Your life is great. What do you even have to be depressed about?”
Sometimes, to those dealing with a depressed person but not depression itself, the constant air of gloom and melancholy can get annoying. This is especially true when the person in question seems to not have any other objective problems. With plenty of real and horrible issues going on in the world such as starvation, disease, war, and poverty, depression can seem especially pointless.
However, reminding a depressed person how lucky they are will likely only succeed in annoying them as well. “Depression isn’t something you can argue someone out of,” say the Ventre Medical Associates psychiatrists. “Oftentimes they themselves are fully aware of how illogical their own mood is. But depression overrides logic, and arguing won’t help anything.”
“Would you just snap out of it already?”
It should go without saying, but demanding that a depressed person cease their being depressed won’t be the miracle cure to fix their mood forever. Even if the person in question understands the intention behind this advice and pursues more cheerful activities, the likeliest scenario is that they will continue to be depressed while performing cheerful activities.
“You can’t snap yourself out of depression, and you can’t distract yourself from it,” explain Ventre Medical Associates psychiatrists. “There is no off switch or easy fix. If there were, why would anyone remain depressed in the first place?”
Ventre Medical Associates Gives Okay on Saying the Following
Of course, just because a person with depression cannot be argued with or reasoned out of their mental funk, it doesn’t mean that they cannot be interacted with at all. While there are many lines of conversation that will prove useless to helping a depressed person, there are still things that those concerned about them can do and say to help. The following are all much more constructive ways to approach somebody’s depression.
“Let’s go do something together.”
Depression can keep a person from wanting to partake in activities that they used to enjoy. However, one of the best ways to combat the symptoms of depression is to show support for the depressed. Even if they don’t have any interest in the activity itself, the social bonding may help reinforce the fact that they need not suffer alone.
“You’re not always going to feel like this.”
In the midst of depression, it can be easy to forget that the problem is a chemical one and not a personal failing of the individual in question. To help them better keep this in mind, Ventre Medical Associates recommends reminding the depressed person that their suffering is only temporary. “Depression is treatable and through treatment we are able to eliminate or lessen the depression symptoms,” say the psychiatrists. “So don’t judge depressed people, and don’t impose your own mood on them. Just try and give them hope whenever possible.”
“Maybe you should see a therapist.”
This is, hands down, one of the best things that anyone can say to a depressed individual that has still not received professional attention. With the right degree of counseling, therapy, and medication, anybody can beat depression and find true recovery. “In most cases, the best remedy for a person’s depression is an outpouring of support,” explain the psychiatrists at Ventre Medical Associates, “both from psychiatric professionals and from loved ones while they go through their recovery.”