10 Things to Say (and Not to Say) to a Teen With Depression

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Choose your words carefully when talking to a depressed teen. Credit: Getty Images

How to show you care

What do you say to someone who's depressed? All too often, it's the wrong thing.

"People still have such a cloudy idea of what mental illness is," says Kathleen Brannon, of Herndon, Va.

"Sometimes people will say, 'Oh, you're depressed? Yeah, I've been depressed,' and you realize just the way they say it that, nooo, it's not quite the same thing. It's not just that I'm feeling sad or blue."

Below is a list of helpful things to tell someone battling depression, followed by what not to say, courtesy of the Depression Alliance.

I'm here for you

What to say:
You're not alone in this.

What NOT to say:
There's always someone worse off than you are.

You matter

What to say:
You are important to me.

What NOT to say:
No one ever said that life was fair.

Let me help

What to say:
Do you want a hug?

What NOT to say:
Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Depression is real

What to say:
You are not going crazy.

What NOT to say:
So you're depressed. Aren't you always?

There is hope

What to say:
We are not on this earth to see through one another, but to see one another through.

What NOT to say:
Try not to be so depressed.

You can survive this

What to say:
When all this is over, I'll still be here and so will you.

What NOT to say:
It's your own fault.

I'll do my best to understand

What to say:
I can't really understand what you are feeling, but I can offer my compassion.

What NOT to say:
Believe me, I know how you feel. I was depressed once for several days.

You won't drive me away

What to say:
I'm not going to leave you or abandon you.

What NOT to say:
I think your depression is a way of punishing us.

I care about you

What to say:
I love you. (Say this only if you mean it.)

What NOT to say:
Haven't you grown tired of all this "me, me, me" stuff yet?

We'll get through this together

What to say:
I'm sorry that you're in so much pain. I am not going to leave you. I am going to take care of myself, so you don't need to worry that your pain might hurt me.

What NOT to say:
Have you tried chamomile tea?

Related: Postpartum Depression Affects Dads, Too

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.