What to Say When Someone Is Depressed: 14 Perfectly Worded Texts

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Texts are an excellent way to reach out

One in three people in the United States will struggle with depression at some point during their life, and one in eight will have a major depressive episode. It can be hard to know what to say when someone is depressed, so it’s a good idea to have some strategies in place now to support loved ones during a dark time.

“Texting is an easy way to show someone you are thinking about them and you care,” says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a relationship therapist in Beverly Hills. “The very nature of texting makes it ideal because they don’t have to feel pressure to answer in the moment if they’re not feeling up to it, like they would if you called or asked them in person.”

While a text doesn’t replace in-person interactions or phone calls, notes Walfish, they can be one great tool to provide support.

What you shouldn’t say to someone living with depression

When texting or talking with someone about depression or any mental illness, it’s important to follow a few etiquette rules and avoid some common pitfalls, says psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dave Rabin, MD, PhD, co-founder of Apollo Neuroscience. Even folks who are trying to be kind and loving can easily make these mistakes:

  • Offering unsolicited advice. (“Have you tried yoga?”)
  • Minimizing their feelings. (“Everyone feels down sometimes—it’s not a big deal.”)
  • Being forcefully positive. (“Every cloud has a silver lining! Count your blessings!”)

In fact, some of the “polite” ways you’re probably talking about mental health are actually rude, and that’s not limited to comments about depression.

What to say when someone is depressed

“Depending on their personality, you could text something funny, like a meme about depression, an uplifting quote or a ‘thinking of you’ message,” Walfish says. “Even a simple ‘Hey, just wanted to let you know I love you! How are you feeling today?’ is always great.”

Whatever you choose, focus on listening to their experience, validating their feelings and providing support. The short texts below, provided by Dr. Rabin and Walfish, can open up the lines of communication and let a person living with depression know they aren’t alone.

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“Hey, friend! Just thinking about you and wanted to check in. How are you doing?”

One of the most powerful ways to help someone with depression is simply letting them know that you haven’t forgotten about them. “This simple message expresses concern and opens the door to further conversation if they’re feeling up for it,” says Walfish. This is something good friends do.

Pitfalls to avoid: Don’t press for information, says Walfish. Instead, keep your interaction low-pressure. There’s a solid chance that they will reply with something like “Fine” or “Good,” and that’s OK. You can ask one follow-up question, but avoid texting back comments that can come across as accusatory, like: “Are you sure?” or “I don’t believe you.”

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