It used to irk me when I’d tell a friend I was depressed and they’d reply “about what?” I realized then as I do now that people mean well when they ask this, but still, it doesn’t help.
For many, depression is a temporary state that comes and goes as a result of some kind of outside stimulus. Something has to happen to them in order for depression to occur. That’s how they think of it; a loved one dies? You get depressed. Rough day at work? You get depressed.
It’s on the same level as “Go outside without a coat in winter? You get cold,” or “Touch a hot stove? You get burned.” It’s all cause-and-effect for them.
For others, depression just is. It might fluctuate in intensity, but its presence is constant.
I’ve stopped telling people without depression that I’m depressed, because I’ve realized that not only is there no point, but I am basically forcing them to respond, and when they respond with “about what?” I have no right to be annoyed, because they don’t understand, and I shouldn’t expect them to. I shouldn’t have forced them into the position of trying to pretend like they know what I’m talking about; I put them on the spot.
That being said, if you’re not a perpetually depressed person and don’t “get it,” I’ll tell you this much: The absolute best reply to give when a depressed friend says “I’m depressed” is “I understand.” Let them vent a little, get it out. Let them volunteer as much info as they want, but don’t probe. Just listen and acknowledge.
When you say “About what?” And they say “I don’t know, I just am” and you say “Did something happen?” You’re going to make them wish they’d simply kept to themselves or reached out to someone else. They aren’t asking for solutions. Sometimes they just need to vent. Shhhhh…use your ears, not your lips.