“Death and life are in the power of the tongue...” Proverbs 18:21
What we say to others can either build them up or tear them down. We must take care not to further injure someone in their suffering from something we say.
As a neuropsychologist, I’m witness to the well-intentioned but misdirected words of friends and family to depressed loved ones that only serve to pull them down further.
When people suffer from depression, they often also harbor low self-esteem, guilt, and shame. What they crave is to know they are loved, accepted, and not alone.
Let Scripture help you determine what to say to a depressed loved one: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Here are a few things to say to someone struggling with depression:
-I love you. There is no better time to hear this than when they are struggling to love themselves and wonder if others truly love them too.
-I’m here for you. This is one of the most comforting things you can say to someone feeling alone.
-You are important to me. It’s vital to know they are still acceptable, accepted, and important.
-I’m sorry that you are going through such a painful time. Expressing your sorrow for their pain communicates that you care, even if you don’t fully understand.
-Is there something I can do for you? This communicates your willingness to help and just your offer will lend comfort and encouragement.
-You may not believe this now, but you won’t always feel this way. The depressed individual often needs reminding that there is hope.
-We will get through this together. This communicates your acceptance, and your love.
-Nothing. Actions often do speaker louder than words. I remember when Job encountered great hardship. Job 2:13 says his friends came and sat with him for seven days and nights. During that time, they didn’t speak a word because they saw how great his pain was. Words could do nothing to help his misery, but their company spoke volumes.
Remember, when you are speaking to a depressed loved one, your goal is to encourage and uplift them. “But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:5 NLT).
How will you encourage a loved one today?
Author, speaker and neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and their family. She offers practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. She blogs regularly on her own site: http://www.DrMichelleBengtson.com