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Don’t Say This to Someone Taking Mental Health Medication
Depression is not a one-size-fits-all disease.
Even someone who has depression can have a difficult time understanding what it’s like for someone else — though they have the benefit of empathy. However, for every person, the symptoms and severity vary. But it sucks for everyone. There is no instance in which living with depression is ‘fun’.
What makes it even worse is people who are insensitive and uneducated to/about depression. Most often, their response to depression is to assume that it is something that is easily understood and solved. For a person struggling with depression, combating these constant opinions and “helpful” tips is actually very draining.
Below are 5 things that people need to stop saying to people struggling with depression and managing it with medication:
1: “Have you taken your meds?”
Ok. This could be the whole article itself. This is seriously offensive, inconsiderate, and tone-deaf!
Unless you are someone who has agreed to help your loved one remember to take their meds, it is not your job to remind them. Your loved ones are allowed to be upset. They are allowed to get annoyed, fed up, and frustrated.
If you ask someone about their meds when they exhibit emotional responses, you are effectively saying “You aren’t allowed to feel the normal human range of emotions, because of your mental illness”. Just because someone may have an extreme reaction — or maybe one that you don’t like — doesn’t mean that they haven’t taken their meds. Additionally, even if they HAVEN’T taken their meds… it’s not your job to make sure they do! Taking medications for mental illness is a personal choice. Often, it can help combat some of the symptoms, but it is not a requirement.
Not everything that someone with depression does can be blamed on their mental illness. So please, remember that people aren’t defined by their mental illness and treat them with the same respect as you would anyone else.
2: “Have you tried…?”
[Insert remedy here].
Fresh air is fantastic; fruit is delicious; and chances are that if they’re on a medication, they are already drinking more water. These are not cures. Don’t try and make someone doubt their decision to start medication just because you may not agree with it.
Nature, running, and breathing exercises are all excellent things – but they are no substitute for medication designed to target the chemical imbalances in the brain.
3: “It’s because of your medication.”
While the medication is designed to help balance everything out in the brain, it doesn’t happen instantaneously.
There is a period of adjustment, and there can be some pretty annoying side effects. During this period, it’s really important to stay optimistic and focus on the positive.
Try to understand that even though some take meds for depression, they will still experience bad days — but the medication really does help.
4: “Don’t get too addicted!”
Most often, this is probably said as a joke. But it’s not funny. It’s just not.
Joking about someone needing medication to live a balanced and stable life is not funny. And even though they need it — it doesn’t mean they’re addicted.
5: “You don’t need those.”
The short response to this is “You don’t know that.” How incredibly self-righteous to presume that you know what someone else needs.
Depression can stick with a person for their entire life. And chances are, they aren’t taking medication as a first resort. They’ve probably had many conversations with their doctor and tried many different avenues of treatment. You, who don’t even know the whole situation, have no business telling anyone what they need.
Ok. So. You’re probably just trying to be helpful. And since you can’t fully understand what they are going through, it can be really easy to say the wrong thing.
But here is a little encouragement: If your words come from a place of love, usually your loved one will be able to tell. If you cultivate a relationship built on trust and openness, they’ll be able to tell you if you’ve hurt them.
This article isn’t meant to beat you down or make you afraid to interact with someone struggling with depression. If you want some guidance on how to help your loved one, Start Here.