Windham & Leibovich PC
Heidi Leibovich, LCSW
Scott Windham, LCSW
1016 Greentree Rd Ste#102
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
The Things No One Wants to Hear When They Are Depressed (and how to
avoid saying them)

Clinical depression effects almost 7 percent of the adult population within any given year in the U.S. and yet
we can't even seem to talk about it openly in public when it strikes us or those that we love. It should then,
come as no surprise that most of us seem completely befuddled when it comes to talking to someone
suffering from it. Too often the depressed person is met with basic platitudes ("we all feel blue sometimes")
has their depression blamed on them ("you're depressed because you think so negatively") or invalidated
completely ("what do you have to be depressed about"?)

It's most often not the intent of those saying these things to push the depressed person further into their
depression, but they can, at times do just that. If you have never experienced clinical depression for yourself I
am very happy for you, believe me, it's not fun. Far from being just "having a blue day" or "feeling a little down"
depression is a full body illness that often
effects not only one's mood, but one's thoughts, one's pain level, the
speed at which one can think and move, libido, motivation, sleep cycles, appetite, sense of self worth and even
will to live. When you understand that you can start to understand why saying "I've had bad days too" or "just
think happy thoughts" to someone experiencing those kind of symptoms might not go over so well.

So what
DO people with depression need to hear from their friends, families, and loved ones?

  • For starters, they need to hear that they are loved and valued. People in the depths of a depressive
    episode often lose sight of this. I'm not suggesting that you hint that you love and value them, I'm not
    suggesting that you assume that they know that, I telling you that you need to tell them that, directly and
    repeatedly and you need to tell them why in specific terms. Depression has a way of convincing people
    that any positive thing being said about them is a lie or just being said to be kind. Be direct, be clear,
    and be a broken record.

  • They need to hear that help is available. ** Many people suffering from depression understand that
    psychotherapy and medication can be effective tools, but often they feel that they are not worthy of that
    help, or that they are "too far gone" to be helped. The brain fog and disorganized thinking that often
    accompany a depressive episode can make figuring out how to get help difficult as well. Offer to make
    phone call for or with your loved one. Offer to drive them or ride with them to their first therapy session.
    Any action that you can do to show that you in it with and for them is likely to be helpful.

  • Let them know that you are thinking about them (and/or praying for them if they are religious).
    Depression robs it's sufferers of their self worth. The depressed person often feels that they are worthless
    and insignificant and that others share in this belief. Telling them that you are thinking about them
    when they are not with you is a strong counter argument to this belief and can be surprisingly helpful.

  • Remind them of times when they did not feel so low. Many depressed people forget the happy parts of
    their own "story". Remind them of the vacation that you took together, of the joke that they told that
    made you laugh, of the time that they were there for you. Remind them that they are good people, even
     if they can't feel that or connect to it in the present moment.

Lastly, don't forget that you matter too. Being with a friend or loved one who is suffering with depression
can be very taxing. Take breaks when you need to. Recruit others in the depressed person's life to be positive
supports. Reach out for help yourself if you feel that it is getting to be too much.

Your primary care physician, your medical insurance company, and even the Internet can be powerful tools
for locating help with depression. If you or someone that you love
is struggling with depression in the greater
Pittsburgh area feel free to contact us at (412) 937-0411 to set up a consultation.