2021/10/13 By Lara Brown
How to make a depressed person happy?
This is a question well worth exploring.
I have received many requests for advice: I know they are depressed, and I want to help them to get better, but I am afraid that when I talk with them, I will hurt them unintentionally. Depression seems to make people more vulnerable; what if I accidentally stimulate them and they can't get it up at once?
These are the common confusions of many depressed relatives and friends.
Here, we will talk about only two issues.
1. Five things that should never say to a depressed person.
2. How do I respond to them when they say they are in pain and ask me for help.
The first question, what are the five things not to say to people with depression? I summarize them as no motivational quotes, no denial, no disdain, no criticism, and no coercion.
- No motivational quotes. Don't say something irrelevant, seemingly full of positive energy, but has no effect. For example, "you have to be happy" or "life is so long, you have to be happy every day" and so on. Maybe when our friends around us say they are unhappy, we will tell them, "don't worry too much, be happy," without much guidance, just a word of advice, they will have enough ability to self-regulate. They will get better, but depressed people are different. Depressed people also want to be happy; they don't lack reason. What they lose is the ability to self-regulate and make themselves happy. What they have lost is the ability to make themselves happy by self-regulation. These kinds of words to make them happy sounds like nonsense to them, just like saying "don't give up" to someone who will die. For a depressed person, either understand him or give him substantive advice or help, but do not ask him to cheer up by self-regulating in words. This will only aggravate his powerlessness and make him more disappointed and depressed.
- Do not deny. Don't deny his pain and condition. For example, "what depression, you are just pretentious" or "you just overthink, think positively and you will be fine." Such words will sound very difficult for depressed people because they are sick and want to ask for help. Still, others respond to them with". Why do you want to help? You are not ill at all, you are just pretentious and overthinking", so how can we prove that they are not pretentious and not just overthinking but sick? Facing a depressed person with an attitude of denial of his illness and pain will only make them feel that you do not want to help him, so you refuse to see his pain and avoid his problems with denial. Please don't feel that his pain is all imaginary. For him, this illness is actual, and the pain needs to be seen and acknowledged to be released.
- Not being dismissive, like not denying, means not telling the person that you are not miserable enough when they say they are sad. For example, "There are many people who are worse off than you, and you still feel depressed? Or, "You're nothing, what a big deal to make you depressed." Maybe you are trying to convince them not to feel so bad and hope they will feel better, but to someone who is experiencing depression, it sounds like telling someone who has broken a leg in a car accident, "Don't cry, what do you have to complain about, didn't someone also break two legs?" There is no way to quantify how much pain and suffering a person feels, and no one specifies what level of pain must be reached to be eligible to cry out in pain. Therefore, please don't hold the pain of depressed people in contempt, but acknowledge and understand what they are feeling, which is the greatest consolation.
- Non-judgmental, means not to blame or accuse the depressed person, mainly because they have depression. In the first case, a friend of the depressed person advised him to pull himself together and said to him, "You really shouldn't be in this state now, can you be worthy of your parents? Later, the depressed patient felt that he was indeed sorry for his parents and was a burden to them, but there was no way for him to cheer himself up, so he had to choose to die so that he and his family would be relieved. In the second incident, the father of a depressed person said to his daughter: "You are not depressed, you are forcing your father to get depressed."
- Do not force. Don't force people with depression to do anything, and don't ask them to get better quickly. The development and healing of the disease is a process, not just get better immediately when you tell him to get better. When you say to him, "get better soon," it will not do any good to the disease except making him feel nervous and stressed. Sometimes, people around you may ask them to exercise. Exercise can indeed relieve depression, but when the depressed person's symptoms are severe, there is no way to complete a high-intensity activity, and in this state, they can't even get up and get dressed; they can't even go for a walk or run. The right thing to do is to be patient and encouraging, don't rush, and don't force him to do anything else immediately except for medical treatment.
Above, these are the five kinds of words that you should not speak to people with depression. If there is too much content and people feel they can't remember, you understand the principle that what you wouldn't say to someone with a non-psychiatric illness, you shouldn't say to someone with depression either.
People many times tell people with depression
"You look happy, so how can you get depressed?"
"Depression will be better if you exercise more."
"I understand, I used to be depressed too, but I'll be fine after a few days. It's just a bad mood."
"You're making excuses. Why would you be depressed and have no fun in life at all? You're just too lazy."
These words may not sound like a problem, but when you replace depression with somatic disorders, you will know what the problem with these words is.
"You look happy, so how can you get cancer?"
"The foot is broken, more exercise will be better."
"I know, I cut my hand when cooking, but it's okay. I'll be fine in a couple of days. It's just a hand broken."
"You're making excuses. Why can't you talk with your vocal cords cut? You're just too lazy."
Have you found out what the problem is? We may often have good intentions and want to persuade them to feel better. Still, these words can make depressed people uncomfortable because many people do not understand that depression is a disease with many causes. The patient's will does not control the symptoms of depression. So we should not ask them to behave in the same way as normal people.
Moving on to the second question, they said they were in pain and asked me for help. How do I respond to them?
- Listen to their feelings and related events. Talking has a releasing effect on emotions, listening has a healing effect, and listening carefully to his heart, you are helping him. It is usually the most important and influential step in relieving his depression.
- During the listening process, don't tell him some motivational quotes that seem to be very positive. Because these kinds of words do not have any practical or psychological meaning, but rather sound perfunctory and stonewalling
- Expressing companionship support. Many people, who do not have medical or psychological knowledge and have never had depression, do not understand what depression is like. At this time, as a family member or friend of a depressed person, it is more effective to accompany the depressed person and say to them, "I am here, I will always be with you" than to say to them, "I understand, I can understand your pain."
- Show support by stating objective facts. You don't need to say something forcefully to comfort him. You tell him, "you will get better," this sentence does not have any power, but it will be much more powerful if you use facts. For example, you can tell him how depressed people are, how long it takes on average to get better, the ups and downs in the treatment process, and the right approach.
- Please give him a straightforward course of action. When she tells you that she is in pain and does not know what to do, just comforting her is not enough, this time, you need to give a clear action plan to let her know what she should do. For example, when she told you a lot of her distress and her various ideas, you feel that hers are different and incomprehensible. At this time, you can directly tell her that you think her condition has changed somewhat, and she needs to see a doctor so that she can bring her ID card and medical history book and other things tomorrow and go to the doctor for a follow-up. It should be noted that the fifth step needs to be done based on understanding and companionship. If people just come up and give all kinds of advice, they may miss the opportunity to heal him by listening.