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Health and Fitness News

Keep Your Mouth Shut

Things you shouldn’t say to people dealing with a mental health disorder.

Anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are more common than you may think. When someone lives with one of these, it’s hard to know what to say.

Unless you’ve personally experienced a mental health disorder, you’re likely to make faulty judgements, assumptions, and comments that may do more harm than good, even if your intentions are right.

Instead of saying these potentially offensive comments, keep your mouth shut. Instead of speaking, listen. As you do, be supportive, know their pain is genuine, and educate yourself on their condition.

“It’s All in Your Head”

While mental health disorders originate in the mind, they’re not imaginary or made up. The feelings and thoughts of anxiety and depression affect much more than just the mind. People may suffer from sleep disorders, digestive problems, fatigue, appetite changes, relationship issues, and more. To tell someone, their condition is all in their head is insensitive and hurtful.

“Snap Out of It”

Mental illness isn’t something you can choose to turn off and on. Telling someone to snap out of it is ignorant and insensitive. Similar comments might be telling someone to let it go, move on, or cheer up.

“I Know What You’re Going Through”

Occasionally being moody, stressed, or obsessive over certain details of life is not the same thing as dealing with a diagnosed mental disorder. Unless you’ve experienced the same disorder, you have no place telling someone you can empathize. While you may only be trying to comfort or relate to them, it may sound like an attempt to compete with them or minimize their struggle. Also, if someone is led to believe their condition is “normal” they’ll be less likely to seek the treatment they need.

“Try These Supplements”

If only there was a magic supplement to cure mental illness! You may mean well when you recommend an herbal tea or a vitamin supplement, but a mental health condition is far more complex. A combination of therapy and medication is often the recommended form of treatment.

“Focus on the Positive”

Many mental health disorders have no identifiable triggers. Someone dealing with severe anxiety or depression can’t just make an attitude adjustment and focus on the good things in their life in order to feel better. They may have a loving family, a good job, and plenty of friends, but that won’t make their brain chemistry work the way it should. It’s best to leave the counseling to a trained therapist.

“Things Could Be Worse”

It’s easy to say that things could be worse when you’re not the one living day in and day out with crippling anxiety or depression. This comment will make someone feel guilty for their pain or like their pain is insignificant. Knowing things could be worse doesn’t negate or erase the pain they’re experiencing.

“You Seem Fine to Me”

Most people are quite successful at hiding their mental health struggles. Like you, they want to appear healthy and strong to others. Someone who confides in you about their anxiety or depression is most likely not lying. Even though they may seem fine on the outside, you have no idea what they’re dealing with on the inside. Telling someone that they seem fine sounds like you don’t believe them or that you’re belittling their pain.

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