3 Things Not to Say to Someone in Depression {and what to say instead}

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Sometimes its hard to be a Christian

Christianity is a balancing act of being an example of Christ’s life in us and honesty. It’s not easy to balance these two things, because its not sincere to act like we don’t have real problems, but it is not a good testimony when the world doesn’t see joy in our lives.

Can a Christian be depressed?

I believe Christians battle depression just as unbelievers do. The problem is when a Christian gives in to depression and stops trying to find God’s strength to rise above it.

There are Christians who don’t believe that Christians should fall into depression, and when they find a brother or sister in depression they pass judgement on them.

But last week in our Good Morning Girls‘ study we found Job in a depression. In the 7th chapter he says this, “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”

During the day he was in unbelievable pain and at night he couldn’t sleep because of his nightmares. He had lost all his children, all his wealth, and now his health is gone. How wouldn’t someone in a situation like his not fall into depression?

Depression, in these circumstances, is a normal thing. What isn’t normal is when we surrender to it.

And Job didn’t surrender. He fought. He prayed. And in the end the Lord rewarded him.

How should we respond when a brother or sister is in a depression?

Here are three things you shouldn’t say to someone in depression

1. “Get over it” I am convinced that if it were possible to just “get over” depression, most people would immediately get up and get out of it. The problem is that its not that easy, and that is why so many people are taking dangerous psychosomatic drugs. Because they can’t get over it. And it’s an insult to them to insinuate that their pain isn’t legitimate.

2. “You are in a depression because you’ve sinned” This is, in fact, what Job’s friends were saying to him. But we see in the end that God told Eliphaz in chapter 42, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” Despite Job’s depression, he remained righteous while his friends spoke wrongly of him and to him.

Even when it is clear that the depression is because of sin, we should always wait until the proper time to confront it because saying the right thing at the wrong time can close the door on an opportunity to help lead someone to a place of repentance.

3. “You don’t have faith, and that is why you’re depressed” There is a tendency in some circles to embrace the errant theology that if you are not rich, happy and successful you don’t have faith; because these things indicate God’s blessing.

I don’t know, but I have seen a lot of unbelievers who live blasphemous lives and are rich, happy and successful, while many very dedicated Christians are poor, unsuccessful by the world’s standards and are sometimes not very happy.

We see in the 7th chapter that Eliphaz had this belief system: Bad things = God’s judgement, good things = God’s blessing.

If only life were that simple!

But it’s not.

When we face difficult circumstances our faith reminds us that God hasn’t abandoned us, and He never will. Our faith reminds us that God will always turn things around for our good.

That is true faith!

So, what should we say to someone who is depressed?

1. “I am praying for you” Prayer is a powerful tool and these three words can mean everything! Our prayers can do one hundred times more for someone in a depression than anything we could ever say. And it is a comfort to them to know that you take their situation seriously enough to pray for them.

2. “Call me if you need someone to talk to” I am an external processor. Actually, there have been many times that I’ve solved my own problems just by talking about them out loud. One of the greatest comforts is knowing that we have someone we can talk to….who wont judge us.

We see that there were times when even Job realized that he had exaggerated or gone too far with what he said. And rather than his friends looking past that – knowing that he didn’t always mean everything he said (such as in Job 6:26), they used his words against him. They were not trustworthy friends.

3. “God is with you, even if you don’t feel Him right now” We all probably know this to be true, but there are some times when we need to be reminded that God hasn’t abandoned us.

Have you ever had times when your brain knew that God was there, but your heart doubted it because you couldn’t feel Him? Not in prayer, not in worship, not even when you read your Bible. It was like the heavens had turned to brass and God had turned His back on you.

But He hadn’t turned His back on you. The heavens were not brass. This is why we don’t listen to our hearts, but instead make a conscious choice to believe what His Word says. And a true friend will comfort us with those promises!

Depression isn’t God’s will, just as it wasn’t God’s will for Job to remain in the difficult circumstances we find him in this week. But sometimes depression is a normal reaction to hard times, and how we respond to a person in depression is very important!

Learn how to walk through grief with the hope of Christ.

Topics include:

  • What does the Bible say about grief
  • Learning how to find healthy comfort
  • Helping a child walk through grief
  • Is your loved one in heaven
  • plus 3 bonus lessons

Free printables are included!

Sign up today for the FREE Hope For Our Grief eStudy.

Learn how to walk through grief with the hope of Christ. Topics include: What does the Bible say about grief Learning how to find healthy comfort Helping a child walk through grief Is your loved one in heaven plus 3 bonus lessons Free printables are included! #alittlerandr #grief #loss #miscarriage #infantloss #loss


More articles from the Book of Job

12 Bible Verses About Joy When Life is Hard

3 Things Not to Say to Someone in Depression {and what to say instead}

10 Bible Verses for When You Feel Like Giving Up – Free Printable

When You Think God is Against You

4 Things to Remember When You Feel Discouraged

Stop Asking, “Why God” and What to Ask Instead

Forget Everything You’ve Ever Believed About God’s Favor

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  1. Good thoughts on what to say to a depressed person! Several years ago, after a Pastor’s wife heard my story (which I was just coming out of) she said to me, “It is okay to take anti-depressants for awhile you know.” It was the most freeing thing ever as I was trying to do it on my own when I really needed some help to get my body back in balance. It was a temporary help as I worked through the process of healing and I am forever grateful to her.

  2. Hi Rosilind, You wrote what could be a very controversial post to some. I commend your bravery. I have never dealt with depression personally, but know many that do and are believers. They have heard it all, even from the pulpit about how depression is not trusting God, sin, etc., and if they “only….” #3 is the one that speaks to me and if it were me, that is all I would need to know. Depression these days needs to be taken very seriously, as some of these so called meds that are being used to treat are also causing harm. It is a sensitive subject for many and we all should show more grace when believers and even non-believers are in our paths. Great work.

  3. This is timely because yesterday I was talking to someone who has been depressed for a long time- with just cause! Her husband left her for a younger woman. She has been on medication for some time now. I arranged for her to come to my house for some “art therapy”.

  4. I love the wisdom that you share in this post, Rosilind. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about depression, especially in Christian circles. Your advice on what not to do and what to do is spot on, my friend! Thanks for sharing and providing a great linkup too!

  5. I was depressed after having my youngest child. I prayed, I cried, and I prayed some more. Nothing I did could get me out of it. After suffering about a month and a half, I finally broke down and talked to my doctor. It’s not easy to tell someone especially when you already feel like you will be blacklisted and thought of as being crazy. Over a year later I’m now off the meds and feel so much better. Sometimes instead of judging a person just needs a hug and to know your there.

    Thank you for writing this and not judging.

  6. THANK YOU for this Rosilind. As someone who has lived under the cloud of low-level, “functioning” depression all her life, I heartily amen all you have written! To your what not to say list, I would also add the dreaded “just cheer up” and “look on the bright side” and “smile!”. Depressions’s sufferers need to know they are loved and cherished as they are even while they are being supported and encouraged to become who God would have them to be. Thank you for sharing your words and heart….stopping by from Coffee & Conversation.

  7. Some excellent insights Rosilind. I would add that depression is part of living in a fallen world. After Adam, Eve, and the garden disobedience, nothing works as it should. Our world is broken, and everything that can go wrong with our physical body, sometimes does. Of course, heaping guilt on someone who is already hurting, is never helpful. Doing what we can to be an encouragement and support is best. Sometimes the simple act of empathetic, and compassionate listening, helps more than we realize. Thank you for the excellent tips on what to do, and to avoid.

    Thanks for another awesome opportunity to share and connect in the link-up too!

  8. This is a great post! I can say from personal experience it hurts when people try to condemn you for being depressed. While growing up, my parents always told me that I wouldn’t be so depressed if I was saved. However, that is totally untrue. I was [am] saved, I have still suffered from depression/anxiety. It doesn’t mean that I loved the Lord any less or that He loved me any less. It was just something I had to go through. Thank you for this post! I know this will help someone who is facing that same type of condemnation.

  9. Well said. I think that many times people want to “fix” the person who is depressed and because they don’t really understand, they say inappropriate and sometimes harmful things. Your suggestions for what to say are great. When I have been down (I don’t suffer from clinical depression, however, I’ve gone through deep grief which feels just as dark) and being dismissed with comments similar to “get over it” (person probably thinking I’d grieved long enough) were hurtful. We each grieve differently.) However, words such as, “I’m here. I know it hurts. I’m praying.” were so much more encouraging and helpful! Thanks for sharing.

  10. I come from a mother who was depressed most of my childhood. She suffered with it off and on, and we were all affected. It’s awful. Sadly, it seems that I have inherited most of my mothers’ genes and suffer with it too from time to time. It’s so hard for people to know how to deal with you when your in that frame of mind. Thank you for posting this! I really hope that it reaches those that need it the most. – Thank you for hosting and have a wonderful Wednesday!

  11. I have a close friend who has suffered from depression for about 3 years now. It is very hard to know what to say to her when she dips into the dark but what I’ve found is that just being present is the most helpful thing. thanks for your post

  12. Thank you so much for writing and sharing this. There have been several friends I have come across in the path of life who deal/dealt with depression. With all the different messages being shouted in the Christian circles it’s sometimes difficult to discern who is speaking truth.
    As I have never actually dealt with depression myself (maybe for two days, but that’s it) I don’t know exactly what helps and what hinders.
    Your post really helped! Thank you so much!

  13. These are all good reminders! As a retired Christian professional clinical counselor, I might add it is always good to see your doctor to check out whether there are any physical things going on which might be causing or contributing to the depressive symptoms. That is something we forget to think about and really needs to be on our radar screen if the symptoms are extending for more than a week or so.

  14. Thanks so much for a great post. I am meeting with a woman tomorrow who is chronically depressed and this will be so helpful because I really don’t want to be what I call an “Eliphaz” sort of friend.

  15. Love this! One time I confided in some one that I was struggling with the symptoms from aging. She told me her story of how she didn’t suffer from any of those symptoms and said I needed to have more faith. That was the last time I confided in her. I felt like a loser after talking to her. I never want a friend going through a hard time to feel like a loser who doesn’t have enough faith. I want them to be authentic and real with me. I think this is why Christians feel the pressure to wear the “have it all together” mask when they are really falling a part inside. They’re too afraid to take off the mask because someone like that lady I confided in will tell them they don’t have enough faith. Ugh!

    1. Sadly, so many Christians misuse the concept of faith, and discourage us rather than encourage us. I have faced that so many times as well. If you are momentarily stressed, under pressure, facing trials, sickness, disappointment _____(insert here), you lack faith. But Jesus DID say that in this world we would have trouble…and he DIDN”T follow that up with “but if you have faith you will escape it”, but rather, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And I think that if we – as Christians – were a little more authentic about our troubles…and walked in TRUE faith, knowing that through Jesus we will somehow overcome it, then I think our brothers and sisters would feel less intimidated and more encouraged….and I think the world would be hungrier for what we have.

  16. Clinical depression is very similar to a wide range of disease, and those illnesses have a direct relation to the broken world we live in – not the faith we have. Wonderfully written


  17. Rosilind, this is such excellent advice! You are so right, many think Christians should not be depressed. However, depression is an illness. Such simple, valuable truths in your post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom on this difficult topic! (Visiting from #rara linkup!)

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