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Depression and anxiety are diseases like any other and can be triggered by factors such as stress and chemical imbalances among others. People suffering with these disorders need support, understanding and often, medication and therapy.

A Cambridge University post discussed a WHO (World Health Organisation) report which found that depression and anxiety – the two leading mental health disorders – accounted for about 580 million diagnosed people.

What you should NOT say to people suffering from depression or anxiety:

  • “Snap out of it!” 
  • “Cheer up!” 
  • “Think happy thoughts”. 
  • “You’ve changed. You used to be fun”. 
  • “Stop being so selfish”. 
  • “Others have been through worse”. 
  • “We are all going through something”. 

These responses are not helpful as the condition can be caused by a chemical imbalance or many other factors.

What should you be saying?

    “You’ve struggled for some time. Let’s get professional help”. 
  • “I’m here for you. Want to talk?” 
  • “How is the treatment going? Is it helping you?” 
  • “I did some research. I understand more now”. 
  • “It’s not a sign of weakness. I’m proud that you’re going for treatment”. 

Most people feel anxious or depressed at some point in their lives but when symptoms persist, it’s advisable to  see a doctor or reach out to a helpline such as SADAG (South African Association of Depression and Anxiety).



While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this article, information may change or become dated, as new developments occur. The Link group shall not be held liable or accountable for the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any information for any purpose. No content in this article, irrespective of the date or reference source, should be viewed as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor, pharmacist or any other suitably qualified clinician.