Calm Down, It’s Just A Mental Disorder

Depression and anxiety are, unfortunately, surprisingly common mental health issues. They are the most common mental disorders in America, affecting 40 million adults. Most people have friends or relatives that suffer from one or both. Most people want to know how they can help their friends and what they can say to make them feel better. In order to be a better ally and a better friend, start off with NOT saying these phrases.

1. “Depression isn’t real/Depression is a state of mind, just get over it.”

Just because you haven’t had any form of depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Depression is a very real disorder that people don’t just get over. We don’t “just want sympathy”; we want help and support.

 

2. “You’re such a downer.”

We don’t mean to make you miserable like we are. We just can’t get out of the slump we are in. A lot of people that suffer from mental illnesses can hide it, but only for a certain amount of time. Expressing these feelings sometimes helps, but making us feel bad about it doesn’t.

 

 3. “What about those people in ­­­­________? *insert developing country or war-torn region that is completely irrelevant to my emotional state/wellbeing*”

This just makes us feel worse than we are already feeling. People who suffer from anxiety are fully aware that our worries aren’t necessarily rational. By telling us “it could be worse,” it makes us feel ashamed for having these thoughts and feelings. Instead of saying that, try to make us feel like our emotions are valid without feeding into our anxiety.

4. “Calm down, everyone feels like that.”

Yes, everyone feels nervousness or anxiety at some point in their life, but not like someone with a disorder. Instead of saying "calm down,” make them feel like their emotions are valid and that they aren't crazy. Making people feel safe and secure works wonders for anxiety and depression.

 

5. “You’re stressing me out.”

Instead of making the focus about you, try saying, “How can I help you?”

 

6. “Just cheer up/happiness is a choice.”

Instead of telling us “it’s a choice,” try to get us to do something fun. That way, you aren’t making us feel invalid, and you’re also helping us!

 

7. “Stop overreacting/faking it.”

8. "OMG today I just felt like /so/ depressed because I failed a quiz lol!!!!!!"

No, you are not depressed. You are upset. There is a huge difference between depression and being upset because you failed something. Try using different vocab, like “upset,” “angry,” or “frustrated.”

 

9. "It's just because you're not being productive enough. You're being lazy. Go exercise."

Exercise does work in some cases, but a lot of the time, depression and anxiety make it almost impossible to find the energy to so much as go to the bathroom. Exercising really isn’t an option.

 

10. Anything along the lines of “No one cares,” “You’re being dramatic,” or using their personal details (like antidepressant medicine) against them.

What people suffering from depression and anxiety want to hear is that you’ll be there for them. That it might suck right now, but it is only temporary (saying that it’s only temporary REALLY helps for panic attacks). Some of us don’t want you to do anything – just ask if we need anything and leave us alone.

Others really want you to be there. Maybe give them a hug, make them some tea, watch a movie together, and talk through it. If you don’t know how they want you to help them, ASK. Don’t be afraid to ask them what you can do. It makes a world of difference!

 

Photo Credit: 1, 2, 3, 4