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There are many, many things we'd never say to someone with a serious physical illness like cancer.

Things like:

  • "A lot of people are worse off than you."
  • "I'm getting tired of hearing about this."
  • "Snap out of it."
  • "You're kind of dragging me down."
  • "Why don't you just go outside and get some sunshine. You'll be fine."
  • "Can we stop with the pity party?"ll


Image via Hope for Depression Research Foundation.

And yet people dealing with depression hear these kinds of statements all too often.

Why is that? Well, it's probably partly because of the way we talk about depression.

"We use the word depression all the time in our ordinary language to talk about feeling down or upset about something that makes us feel low or bad," Dr. Harold Koenigsberg, a psychiatrist and a professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, shared with Upworthy.

Those feelings are normal, and we all experience them, but we're talking about a medical condition here — something that persists for a few weeks or longer and something that can even put a person at risk for suicide. Depression isn't a fleeting feeling or a temporary mood.

The folks behind the nonprofit Hope for Depression Research Foundation created a powerful one-minute PSA to make an excellent point.

If you can't imagine yourself saying any of these damaging things to a person battling cancer, you shouldn't ever consider saying them to someone battling depression, another life-threatening illness.

If you have a minute, watch, then scroll down for some expert advice on what we should say.

Depression is serious, and it affects many people.

Image via iStock.

"Depression is a very common disorder," Koenigsberg said. He explained that about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will suffer from major depression at some point in their life.

Those statistics mean it's pretty likely we all know someone who has dealt with depression at one point or another.

So we know what not to say. But what should we say and do?

1. Listen.

Koenigsberg, who's also on the board of the Hope for Depression Research Foundation, said the first thing we should do if someone we care about is experiencing depression is to listen. "Be a good listener," he said. "Be interested in what they’re going through and what they’re feeling."

He recommends remaining nonjudgmental "to give the message that you care about them and you’re accessible to them."

2. Encourage the person to seek professional help.

If they're stuck in the depression — if it's not going away for days and days; if it's affecting their sleep, appetite, and physical function; if they're not able to work; if they feel hopeless, suicidal, etc. — "you want to encourage them to get help," Koenigsberg said.

3. Remember that it may not be obvious to the person that they need help.

"It's worth thinking about how to encourage someone who's depressed to get help," Koenigsberg said. First, many people feel like they should be able to manage it themselves. And second, he pointed out that many people experiencing depression feel hopeless. "They can feel like nothing is going to help them, so why bother?"

4. Point out the benefits of seeking outside help.

Photo by iStock.

"It can be useful to tell people that depression is in fact very responsive to treatment and often, talking with an neutral person can make a big difference," Koenigsberg explained. "[Talking to] a person who isn’t involved in their life … can give them more leverage with the issues that they’re struggling with."

When it comes to medication, he said that some people feel resistant because they're focused on a particular situation or issue that's contributed to the depression. That makes it harder to understand how medication could help.

"It’s often helpful to explain that when you’re under a lot of emotional stress or a situation that is taxing on you — a big burden or strain — if that goes on for a while, it can set off a chain reaction of chemistry in the brain," he said. "It can set off disregulations in different brain chemicals, and medication can reset that. ... By getting the chemistry back to normal, that will give them more resources to help the issue they’re struggling with."

5. Make it easier for the person to get help.

Remember that when someone is facing depression, even simple, everyday tasks can feel daunting and overwhelming. As such, the additional step of finding someone to talk to might be too much. "It's hard to get over the hurdle," Koenigsberg said. "Make it easier by giving them a phone number."

You could help them research their insurance coverage and find a doctor on their plan, or you could assist in locating a clinic that will help folks who don't have insurance if that's a barrier to seeking help.

6. Physical exercise is helpful.

Photo by iStock.

While you should never tell someone to get out and get some sunshine as though that'll cure their depression, Koenigsberg points out that physical exercise can be helpful to someone experiencing depression. Drop by and ask the person if they'd like to go for a walk with you.

7. Check in.

Showing up is important — and it doesn't have to be in the physical sense if that's not possible. Call the person and ask how they're doing. When you're done talking, tell them you're going to check back in soon so they know you're there for them.

Depression isn't just a temporary mood. It's a serious medical condition that needs treatment. And by keeping these tips in mind, not only can we avoid saying the wrong things, but we can be there to say and do the right things.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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