What Our Depressed Patients Wish You’d Stop Saying to Them

What Our Depressed Patients Wish You’d Stop Saying to Them

When someone opens up to you and reveals that they’re suffering from depression, what do you say? It can be hard to find the right words. Unfortunately, many of us end up saying the wrong thing and making our loved one feel even worse. At Amen Clinics, we asked our depressed patients what they wish people would stop saying to them.

Here are the Top 5 Responses They Never Want to Hear Again

“But you don’t look sad.”

Jerry, one of our patients with depression, felt angry, irritable, and had trouble concentrating—all common symptoms of depression. But when Jerry finally got up the courage to open up about what he was feeling, his friends were dismissive. They told him he couldn’t have depression because he didn’t look sad all the time. They thought they were being supportive, but in effect, they shut him down. Because of this, it took Jerry another several years before he finally came to see us for help.

A better response: “I didn’t know those things were symptoms of depression, but if you’re feeling this way, you may want to talk to a professional.”

“Oh, just snap out of it.”

Jocelyne used to wake up every morning with a feeling of dread. It took a monumental effort just to get out of bed. And then she was strapped with a sense of emptiness that weighed her down throughout the rest of the day. When she told her husband one night about how she’d been feeling and said she was going to seek treatment. Instead of being supportive, he told her to just snap out of it. Saying this to someone with depression is like telling someone with a broken ankle to just walk on it and the pain will go away. It won’t. And just like someone with a fracture or other physical ailment, people with depression didn’t choose to feel bad, and they can’t simply will it away. Jocelyne told us that when her husband told her to snap out of it, it made her wonder if the mental illness was her fault, which can cause an even more serious downward spiral.

A better response: “That sounds like it must be very painful. I’m here for you if you want to talk about it.”

“It’s just a phase. It’ll pass.”

When Brandi came to one of our clinics, she said she had been feeling moody and unhappy ever since she started college. When she would talk to her mom about how she felt, her mom would tell her it was just a phase related to being away from home for the first time and that once she got settled, she would get over it. So, Brandi kept waiting—and waiting and waiting—for the emptiness and fatigue to go away and the loss of interest in the things she used to enjoy to return. But it didn’t happen. It was years before she got tired of waiting and decided to do something about it.

A better response: “How long have you been feeling this way? It could be just a phase, but if your feelings don’t change soon then it’s a good idea to look into it.”

“Why are you depressed? Is it because…?”

Our patient Padhma told us that when she revealed to the women in her book group that she was depressed, they swooped in with pointed questions. Is it because your boyfriend broke up with you? Is it because you didn’t get that promotion? Is it because your BFF moved away? The women wanted to help by finding a specific reason that had triggered the negativity that had descended on Padhma. But as we explained to Padhma, depression isn’t necessarily related to a singular event or cause. And the idea that you can overcome depression by fixing that problem—getting a new boyfriend, a new job, or a new friend, for example—is flawed thinking. Depression is a brain-based issue with biological roots. Unless you heal the dysfunction in the brain and body, none of those external things can restore your happiness. That’s why people who seem to have everything going for them can be mired in the darkness of depression.

A better response: “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way. What can I do to support you?”

“Have you tried…?”

Jonathan came to one of our clinics after years of trying to heal himself of his depression. Whenever he would talk to someone about his mental health condition, they would inevitably ask him if he had tried some medication, therapy, or other treatment that had worked for someone they knew. And they would tell him he should try it too. But most of these things didn’t work for him. That’s because giving everyone with depression the same treatment will never work. Our brain imaging work at Amen Clinics has helped us identify 7 different types of depression, and each type needs a different treatment. You need to know your brain type to get the right plan.

A better response: “I’ve known a few people with depression, and they each responded to different treatments. You may want to find out about your own brain to get a personalized treatment that would be most helpful for your type of depression.”

At Amen Clinics, we take a unique brain-body approach to diagnosis and treatment that includes brain SPECT imaging, as well as laboratory testing to check physical health, and other important factors that could be contributing to symptoms of depression. By getting to the root cause of your symptoms, we can create a more effective, personalized treatment plan for you.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already enhanced their brain health, overcome their symptoms, and improved their quality of life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834. If all our specialists are busy helping others, you can also schedule a time to talk.

12 Comments

  1. I have been experiencing those symptoms of depression. Irritability, anger and cant concentrate. I didn’t know these were symptoms of depression. I have been diagnosed with mild depression but they never told me that these were common symptoms. Can Amen please contact me and help me out I really want to get better as this has been interfering with my work. I am a general manager of a gym and my staff and members depend on me to be ok. Please call me I’m interested in what you guys can offer to help. Thank you!

    Oscar

    Comment by Oscar Ocampo — May 20, 2020 @ 2:36 AM

  2. I have a mild case of depression and my daughter has depression and anxiety. We both have an MTHFR Gene. We don’t live close enough to Amen clinic so what would it look like if we wanted to get testing done by Amen Clinic?
    Carol Hebert

    Comment by Carol — May 20, 2020 @ 3:20 AM

  3. Do you have a partner clinic in the Metropolitan Tironto Area (province of Ontario, Canada)?
    (I inquired at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) if I could have a SPECT scan; I was told they do it only for Alzheimers patients, thesy said my memory was good and I only had mild depression/adjustment reaction, would be well in a couple months without medication, just psychotheraphy.)

    Comment by Vir Alvaran — May 20, 2020 @ 5:12 AM

  4. It has been very hard for my husband and I. My husband is very sick with having 2 stroke and 1 seizure. He is upset all the time. I say something he gets really upset. He also doesn’t pick up after him self not till I get on him about it and that will be maybe 3 or more days after I ask him to do it. It has gotten worse since pandemic. I will cry and he just makes fun of me. He acts like he was going to hit me but doesn’t. I never know what he is going to be saying. I do not know if this is the kind of thing you are looking for. Sincerely Gain

    Comment by Gail Menth — May 20, 2020 @ 6:09 AM

  5. What if you can never say the right thing because the person never really does anything to help herself? I sent my daughter to your clinic and she won’t really start and stick to the prescribed program. She just seems to prefer being depressed rather than getting help or making changes. Prefers to blame me and others. Gets a bit much living with someone like that.

    Comment by Vicky — May 20, 2020 @ 6:19 AM

  6. Hugs

    It sounds like you need to talk more about what’s going on in your household, I hope you will find a therapist for yourself.

    Comment by Gina — May 20, 2020 @ 8:15 AM

  7. Vicky, I feel your pain because my son is the same way. He doesn’t want to do anything and just spends his time deflecting and shifting blame, whining and complaining all day. Yes, it does get to be too much. You know, I tried to get him help. If he refuses I can’t do anything about it, but I don’t have to sit there and lend him my ear, enabling him to continue whining and complaining instead of doing something to make it better. I sadly learned to tune him out, for my own mental health.

    Comment by Rebecca — May 20, 2020 @ 8:19 AM

  8. Nobody prefers to be depressed. Seeking help is like wading through quicksand. Please stop blaming her, depression isn’t a character flaw.

    Comment by s.gina@hotmailcom — May 20, 2020 @ 8:21 AM

  9. People are clueless about “mental health” issues. Bottom line is that you can’t expect any kind of meaningful response if you tell someone you are depressed or other. They either don’t understand or don’t know what to say. Acceot what they say and drop the subject. Read up on depression, speak to your doctor (who can be as clueless as your friends and family), begin yoga/meditation/qigong practice and find a good therapist. If you can find one trusted friend who understands, you are lucky, but be careful who you reveal yourself to.

    Comment by Eve — May 20, 2020 @ 9:04 AM

  10. Dear Oscar, I doubt whether anyone from the Amen Clinic will contact you, or even respond to your message. I say this not to trash them, but speaking as a past patient of the Amen Clinic. It was life-changing for me to go there, but bottom line is they simply don’t have time to respond to your comments. (I certainly hope they will prove me wrong but I doubt it). Best is to read one of Daniel Amen’s books and look in the reference section which will have a listing of all the current clinic locations (there are about 6 scattered about the country), or email them and ask for referrals for people who practice what Amen preaches in your state. I speak as someone who has experience with the clinic. I’m not bitter about my care, just realistic. I truly wish they were more responsive to the vast numbers of people who have deep problems and want help. I wish it were different. For example, I had a quick question to my doctor about my supplement, and his nurse told me it would cost me $500 for a half-hour phone call. Since I had already spent $7K for my treatment, I was kind of shocked at the price. Don’t get me wrong; it was worth every penny for the information I got. But realistically, most people can’t afford the SPECT scan or diagnostic evaluation.

    I think we all are experiencing some conditional depression just with all the awful things we are hearing, the number of deaths there are, and the climate of fear the media is stirring up. I suggest one thing based on what you said: “my staff and members depend on me to be ok.” Have a meeting and tell them you are NOT okay, and it is okay for you not to be okay. You may be surprised that there is less pressure from your staff and members than you think. Hang in there, Oscar. We will all get through this.

    Comment by Madelyn Lenard — May 20, 2020 @ 4:46 PM

  11. Then there is, “You have nothing to be depressed about.”

    Comment by Kathy — May 20, 2020 @ 6:49 PM

  12. My grandpa was depressed and stayed that way after the 1927 depression. My dad , a physician, had a tendency to depression. But life is real correct. My dad was productive , kind and adjusted well. My son’s father ,get this, a psychiatrist had manic depressive spells, Up and down.
    I used to take Tofranil at night and really had a good result, but ….then I realized that my ketotic life style was negating B vitamines. So, I started B Complex daily of 100 mg. ( yes it’s alot but I just urinate out what I don’t need ) I also take 5 HTP, 200m g with Calcium. It is a precurser to make Seratonin . Im now in my late 70’s but have been doing this for 50 years and had a very happy life. So, I slack off of the 5Htp 200 mg. but when I get down in the dumps I take the 5HTP and a pill called Sunny Day which actually just 2 tea herbs. Now Sunny Day comes With 5HTP.
    Exercise always help because of the natural endorphins. I exercised daily for 55 years. I look wonderful , even now. I feel very good and I’m not depressed . I think , in fact that I’ve learned the MUSIC, the old songs you loved in your youth, peppy songs cheerful songs silly songs help the mood and I’ve developed a good sense of humor and MAKE AN EFFORT to see the funny side of criticism or … it something terrible happens, I try to think of something worse that happened that is funny ( like rain all the way to the air port so we missed the plane , but got there and took a plane to Acapulco instead and then drove on a winding road at night ,in a rented VW and ended up in Puerto Escondito….a Beautiful little town, then….south of Acapulco. A horrible adventure that ended up fun and a good memory. Makes light of what’s happening now.
    Put on Perfume. Put on Lipstick. Comb your hair. Brush your teeth. Take a shower. Good hygine is Uplifting . I’ll never be cured, but I can keep trying things that help my depression.

    Comment by Pat — May 22, 2020 @ 9:01 PM

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