2). "I know what you're going through, I was depressed when (fill in the blank) happened." Again, a well-meaning comment, but depression felt from breaking up with your boyfriend or your dog dying isn't the same as clinical depression. While no one wants to minimize your experience or insult you, clinical depression is a biological disease or disorder that amplifies depression so much that it disrupts our daily lives for weeks, or often months. It's a depression that never goes away. It is depression so severe that suicide is often contemplated, and sadly, successfully accomplished.
3). "You don't seem mentally ill to me." -- Maybe that's because, you're not a psychiatrist? It's hard not to be sarcastic with some of these comments. The person who says this one isn't well-meaning or naive. They're a "Grade-A-Asshole." Avoid them at all costs--they aren't interested in helping you, they're only interested in making fun of you. Whenever I hear this one, in my mind I say, "Yeah, and you didn't seem like a cold-hearted fuck, but then you opened your mouth, and there was no denying it!!"
4). "Are you sure you have a mental illness? Maybe it's something else, like (fill the blank)." -- Everyone has an answer to your conditions. Suddenly everyone claims to know a lot about the brain. I've heard it all from friends and family in denial about my conditions. "Are you sure it's not a food allergen?" "Maybe you have a thyroid problem." Of course I'm sure I have a mental illness!! I seen 3 different doctors who all had the same diagnosis, but I don't think some people acknowledge psychiatry as a valid science--probably because they are in denial about their own issues. If they acknowledge the validity of psychiatry then they'd have to do something about it and they don't want to do that--they fear change.
5). "You could feel better, if you wanted to." -- Again, this dismisses the medical certainty that mental illness isn't an issue of willpower or behavior adjustment but rather a biological disease of the brain. If we could feel better simply by wanting to feel better then don't you think everyone suffering would do so? Do you honestly think anyone would purposefully want to live the life of the mentally ill? This isn't fun for us, by any measurement. We're not just immature, irresponsible people who don't want to "face life." We face the harsh realities of life and death more than most people, so don't say this or something like it to your friend with a psychological disease--unless you want a punch to the mouth!!
6). "Things could be worse." -- This statement completely ignores the severity of your condition and essentially tries to blame you for thinking your condition was bad enough to warrant true support or help from this individual. You should respond to this statement by saying, "Yeah, things could be much worse for you, you could be a comatose, heartless fucker but unluckily for us, you're not.
7). "You should get out more." -- You might mean well, but this is essentially saying you think the person with the psychiatric disease is lazy. In addition, it also reduces a complex, medical, condition into mere "cabin fever" that can be solved with a brisk walk outside. It's not that simple. Besides, many of these psychiatric conditions are exacerbated by going out in public.
8). "You don't need all those medications." -- Um, I didn't realize you had a degree in medicine with a special emphasis in psychological medicine. This is actually the worst advice possible to give to someone with a psychiatric condition. Going off medication is dangerous and can lead to worsening of symptoms, often ending in suicide or hospitalization. NEVER TAKE THIS ADVICE AS GOOD ADVICE!!!!!!!
ADDENDUM: Thanks to Jennifer Steele with Yahoo for the inspiration to write this post. Read her article here: (link).