The Dumbest Things to Tell a Person with Depression

The Dumbest Things to Tell a Person with Depression

I’m, so far, a depression survivor. It’s a mixture of depressing and hilarious. I’ve started to collect the weirdest, dumbest and most illogical things people tell me when I mention that I have depression. I usually mention it as a disclaimer—and for comic relief because depressed people tend to love black humour. It somehow fits the dark mood.

While I’m risking that I will come across as a smartass (probably because I am that), I’ll share a selection of the most hilarious responses I’ve collected over the years. Sometimes it looks like people have no clue what they’re actually saying. It appears that some people have no sense to see what pearls of nonsense they are dispensing.

Let’s start with the usual:

Get over it.

Think: would you tell this to someone with cancer? I hope not. Let’s establish that there is a difference between manageable and curable. And guess what! Depression is the former, but not the latter. Who would have thought? (That’s not a real question, that’s the tricky rhetorical kind of a question, which is really a statement. Whew!)

My personal favourite:

Cheer up!

OMG, how come it didn’t occur to me before? I’m cured! Kidding. This is too ludicrous to deserve further commentary.

Another of my favourite exchanges:

Look at the bright side!

“Such as?”—”Well, you’re alive…”—”You realise I’m suicidal?”—”Uhuh?”—”That means that being alive isn’t the bright side for me!” Duh.

An inspirational story:

Look at [insert a famous actor’s name]! He functioned just fine with it, he’d just get on the stage and when his act was over, they’d take him straight to the hospital!

I’m not sure how being taken straight to the hospital could mean that someone is fine. Maybe I’m missing something. Or maybe you’re missing something. (Not you as the specific you, but you as the generic you, like someone.)

A piece of undeniable logic:

But you smile in photos!

Of course I smile in photos. I’m not a moron. (Okay, I am a moron, but not in this respect.) Please be aware that I didn’t have a stroke, hence my ability to lift the corners of my mouth remains unaffected. My exercising this ability doesn’t necessarily reflect the state of my mind.

A case of stating the obvious:

It’s just in your head.

I wholeheartedly agree that mental afflictions affect the mind, which resides in the brain, which resides in the head, so it is indeed all in my head. But, uh, how is this piece of information helpful? *shrug*

The list goes on, but I think you got the idea. The point is: let’s all mind what we’re saying and whether what we’re saying even makes any sense. Here’s an inspiration for a new year’s resolution!

53 thoughts on “The Dumbest Things to Tell a Person with Depression

  1. I completely agree with you. I think people often come up with ridiculous and, frankly, rude things to say because they don’t know how to respond. I would always argue it is better to say nothing at all than to utter something totally inappropriate or insensitive. I have run a similar gauntlet when recently bereaved and people would say the most well-meaning but utterly crass and inane things to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You have a point that mostly, people mean well, but end up saying something completely stupid. I’m sorry for your loss (and sorry for the cliche – now, see, it’s hard to come up with something sensible to say in some situations!). It’s hard to imagine oneself in another person’s shoes and say the right thing. Better keep quiet, I guess. So, I’m shutting up now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! No. Sorry for your loss is simple but works. I am referring to really insensitive stuff people say. For example, when my oldest brother died (the second of my brothers to die) someone decided to tell my parents, siblings and I that they knew exactly what we were going through since their dog had just died. I mean, I love my pets but really? And when my baby was stillborn, people would say stuff about how I could easily have another baby or about how lucky I was to already have children, both of which were somewhat true statements but do nothing to diminish the pain.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. WTF. Your examples are pretty brutal. That’s only more reasons to think before saying something. It happens to me often that I say something that comes out totally wrong, but I do hope I’d never tell anyone that I can understand their loss – because duh, of course I can’t when I’m not them. Wishing you all the best, not only in the new year. You’ve been through a lot, it seems.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Mara–this was hilarious. Which really makes it shameful that it’s true. So….you’ve snapped out of it, right? 🙂 Good gosh. I guess some people think saying something is so much better than saying nothing. Some people really need to put a lid on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! You never fail to cheer me up. It is true, I’ve had all these things said to me – you can’t make this up 😀 I was making fun of it, but it is true that it’s hard to say the right thing sometimes. And most people mean well, they just fail to express their good intentions adequately.


    1. Now, this is the exact kind of response I’d welcome! It clearly comes naturally to you. But it’s hard to know how to respond and what to do when being confronted with an experience that is alien to you. So easy to say the most stupid thing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m not the hugging type, but that sounds good. I’ve yet to be confronted with a person telling me they suffer from depression, and not until right now I’ve started thinking of what to say. I’ve had depressive episodes myself, so I know for sure I wouldn’t say anything like those hilarious examples you gave.

        With regards to clichés … I’m guilty of posting ‘Sorry for your loss … my heartfelt condolences’ on FB. The loss of words … what the hell to say?! I have to say something. When it’s someone close, it’s different. Very different. Then I could actually even become the hugging type.


        1. I didn’t use to be the hugging type but then something happened (the psych ward) and I started hugging everyone everywhere. Which is a pretty striking thing to do in my culture.

          It’s hard to respond adequately to other people’s tragedies. Well, it’s hard to respond or process your own tragedies too. Let’s hope we won’t have many of those this year. Or ever.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s interesting [about the hugging]. Wonder how that happened?! Did it go away, or is it still that way?

            I don’t mind hugging, but it must be very sincere … not that casual hug to people you hardly know, or the air kisses. I hate that LOL


          2. Well, the hugging happened when I was in the psych ward for six weeks or so with a group of people with whom we shared very personal things. You build close relationships to people like this and then the hugging came naturally. I don’t do casual/formal hugs or kisses. Ew. When I hug someone, it’s because I’m genuinely fucking pleased to see them.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. The air kisses are fairly common here … one on each cheek. Not exactly here , where I live, but North America … certain people do it. don’t like


  3. I can so relate to this as someone with depression and (social) anxiety. I come from a family and culture where ‘Just get over it’ is said towards depression all the time and also telling you to do something else to distract yourself, and mental illness seen as a weakness. Also one time I was telling someone about how down I was feeling and also chatting a bit about my anxiety, and he then outright said ‘I can’t help you with your anxiety. You only know yourself best’. (I might have told you this story before, lol). That hurt to be honest. On one hand I get it that everyone’s depression and issues are personal, but on the other hand spilling your guts out sometimes you just want to listen and at least not push you away.


    1. I hear you. In my culture, depression is only gradually starting to be “a thing”, mostly it’s seen as weakness (just as you say) or laziness, or lack of will power. In a way, I blame myself when I’m depressed just as some other people blame me, and I’m thinking I should just get my shit together and deal with it. But then, it’s super hard.

      I usually mention that I have depression/anxiety as a way to explain my behaviours that otherwise could be interpreted in a wrong way: sometimes I cancel plans because I just can’t, or I don’t like to be with people when I’m not feeling like I could do it at the moment. It’s easy to offend someone and make them think you don’t care about them.

      Your story is pretty hard. It’s the worst kind of response, to reject someone who is opening up. It’s difficult to understand, but I think everyone should find it in themselves to respect even what they don’t understand. So, I wish you a lot of understanding and respect in the new year!


      1. Agreed. Being around people is easier said than done. Sometimes you just can’t – and just can’t is a reason to not show up. Through this you do find out who are the friends who will stick around.

        I think with people telling you they can’t help you with anxiety or depression: you just don’t want to be rejected as you said, and you really just don’t want to hear ‘no’ because you tell so much of it already.

        Same to you. Wishing you heaps of understanding, respect and assurance in the new year!


        1. Rejection is the worst, especially when you’re anxious but finally gather up the courage to open up only to hear that the person doesn’t want to listen. Sucks. I do hope your new year kicked off well and won’t suck!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny stuff. To add, I had someone tell me that they don’t think I really need medication. (Nope, they were not doctors…). Plus, I get people that send me a link to an article about depression treatment they just read (about every time they get in touch). And the people who think they can relate cause they felt a bit down as teenagers, but it only took growing up to snap out of the silly phase. Oh, also got the ‘boy, you really like this depression’ one (along the cry for attention/ confused identity line). No further comments. The illness can work as a great eye opener in terms of common social beliefs. Which can be a bit chilling, but also interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear, these are classic examples of people being smartass when they are really being silly… I’ve had those too, people suggesting I didn’t need medication (I guess I do, the last time I thought I could do without meds, I ended up in the psych ward, oops) and sending me links to popularising articles about depression like it is a cure.

      So, let’s look at the bright side (as they say 😉 ), at least one can take is as an eye opener, as you point out, and a source of funny stories (funny though chilling sometimes)!


      1. Yeah! They really are! Don’t think people understand unless they experience it! In ways I’m glad some people don’t understand due to them not having depression.. lucky people! Thank you


  5. Love your post and the (oh so true) examples. The more we talk, blog and bring depression into the limelight, the easier it will be for people to stop treating it as a stigma. Keep talking!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, I’m glad the post worked for you, though I’m of course not glad that you’re suffering from this affliction too. Yep, I think it’s important to talk about it, so people who have no experience (the lucky ones!) would have more information and insight!


  6. This is amazing.
    I suffered with anxiety and depression my whole life, but thankfully have been delivered.

    It’s especially great when people tell you to do things thinking keeping you busy will help, but it won’t. There’s a much bigger issue at hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, good to hear you’re feeling better now! What is your secret?

      I’m glad this post resonated with you. It’s always nice to find people with similar issues and with an understanding of what you’re talking about 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and happy blogging!


      1. Jesus. 😀

        When I had no hope left I cried out to God and He saved me and I gave over my life.

        “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” – Psalm 34:4

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It feels sometimes belittling, doesn’t it? But you know, I’m trying to “get over it” 😉 Thank you for stopping by, I’m glad this post worked for you!


  7. This brought a smile to my face, not only are these things that others say, but I have even caught myself telling myself to snap out of it. Talk about self love! Definitely good to laugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point: you not only hear these things but you often tell them to yourself, which is not very kind. I have the same experience. I’m glad this post worked for you though; and thank you for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My husband always said that it’s all in my head. I had just had a baby . So my counselor said that I was going through post partum depression.
    I had told him not to tell anyone (about me going to a counselor for my depression) but he went ahead and told his mother who immediately asked me if ‘she’ did something wrong . And then they start a conversation about a relative who was visiting a psychologist for no reason.
    Now whenever any kind of sensitive matter for discussion arises (between my husband and me) he asks me if I am reacting the way I do because of my so called “depression” . 🙄
    I am currently reading blog posts and watching videos and distracting myself to “cure” myself. 😐


    1. Oh dear, that’s a terrible experience, I’m sorry you have to go through it! It’s a shame that people still aren’t understanding enough about mental afflictions. However we choose to label them. Take care!


    1. Some people say silly things, right? Thank you for reading, and I wish you all the warrior skills you need to cope yourself! I’ve browsed your blog and see it’s not easy on you. So here’s to coping and cheers!


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