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How to get Help If You're Depressed


Updated June 01, 2010

How to get Help If You're Depressed

Depression can make your feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, even hopeless. Depressive episodes can be time limited, especially if you are in treatment with a qualified professional.

While negative thoughts and feelings may make you feel like giving up, it's important to realize that negative views are part of the depression and often do not accurately reflect your actual circumstances.

As treatment begins to take effect, negative thinking is likely to fade so be patient with yourself. In the meantime:

1. Commit to working out issues by attending regular sessions and being frank with your therapist

2. Outside of therapy, set realistic goals you need to achieve in your day-to-day life

3. Take on a reasonable amount of responsibility and ask for help if you feel overwhelmed

4. Break large tasks into smaller ones and reward yourself for completing those larger tasks

5. Set priorities and do what you can when you can

6. Try to spend time with other people and to confide your feelings to someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive

7. Let your family and friends help you

8. Participate in activities that may make you feel better such as going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in religious, social, or other activities

9. Make time for exercise, but don't over-do it.

10. Postpone important decisions, such as changing jobs getting married or divorced, until the depression has lifted

How Long Will It Take to Feel Better?

People rarely "snap out of" a depression, but they can get a little better day-by-day. Expect your mood to improve gradually. Feeling better takes time. Positive thinking will gradually replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression. The excessive negative thinking grow weaker and disappear as your depression responds to treatment.

Where to Get Help

Be sure to seek outside help if you feel down for more that a couple of weeks, your depressive symptoms are interfering with your life or if you have any thoughts of suicide. There is a whole section of this site devoted to helping you find help. Other options include looking in the yellow pages under "mental health," "psychologists," "counselors," "social services," "suicide prevention," "crisis intervention services," "hotlines," "hospitals," or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses. Your local emergency room can also help in a crisis.

Additional sources of help include:

  • Family doctors
  • Mental health specialists - such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Your health insurance plan
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • University- or medical school-affiliated programs
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family service, social agencies, or clergy
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs

What is Depression?

Causes of Depression

How to get Help if you are Depressed

Medications for Depression

Source: Information from the National Institute of Mental Health and from professional practice as a psychologist treating depressed people.

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