How to Talk to Depressed People

This is an excerpt from Hyberbole and a Half’s illustrated guide to depression.

Hyberbole and a Half

The beginning of my depression had been nothing but feelings, so the emotional deadening that followed was a welcome relief.  I had always wanted to not give a fuck about anything. I viewed feelings as a weakness — annoying obstacles on my quest for total power over myself. And I finally didn’t have to feel them anymore.

But my experiences slowly flattened and blended together until it became obvious that there’s a huge difference between not giving a fuck and not being able to give a fuck.


But people want to help. So they try harder to make you feel hopeful and positive about the situation. You explain it again, hoping they’ll try a less hope-centric approach, but re-explaining your total inability to experience joy inevitably sounds kind of negative; like maybe you WANT to be depressed. The positivity starts coming out in a spray — a giant, desperate happiness sprinkler pointed directly at your face.

I loved and married a woman who became depressed. I didn’t do a very good job of helping her deal with it. The problem with non-depressed people is they don’t understand what depressed people need—what would actually help them.

Maybe this guide can help fix that, plus it’s funny. I hope you’ll read the whole thing, then leave a comment and share your thoughts.