Asking for help when you are experiencing depression can be difficult, but there are ways to reach out and get the support you need. If you feel asking for help is hard, you’re not alone. Many MyDepressionTeam members struggle with it as well.
“My mental health is so broken I don’t even know where to begin to get help,” a team member wrote.
Another member wrote, “I feel like I have been crying out for help and no one cares. I don’t know what to do or where to start.😭”
Depression is a common mental health condition that causes prolonged periods of despair, hopelessness, and apathy (disinterest). There are several types of depression, each of which can disrupt daily life and activities and seriously impact a person’s ability to sleep, work, and eat. People with depression often feel socially isolated and withdrawn, which can make asking for help all the more difficult.
Around 21 million adults in the U.S. — almost 9 percent of the population — had at least one major depressive episode in 2020, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Of those people, around 66 percent reported they’d received treatment in the past year.
Here are some steps you can take to help make asking for help easier.
Starting a conversation about the help you may need with depression can be challenging, even with family members or close friends. But making time and space to talk to loved ones about the support you need is an important step to take.
Some of the things you may need help with include:
You may want to ask a friend or family member to check in with you on a regular basis with a phone call or text. Scheduling regular walks with a loved one can help you get fresh air, physical activity, and a feeling of social connection, all of which have been shown to be beneficial for people with depression.
One way to start a conversation about needing help is to let a loved one know you’d like to find time to talk. That can signal that you need to have a serious conversation. The signs of depression are often invisible and even the people who know you best may not know what you are going through.
“Talking to people is the answer. If not your family then find someone else,” a MyDepressionTeam member offered. “Just know you are not alone.”
Find a quiet place where you can express yourself openly. Sometimes people need guidance in order to know what they can do to support you. It can be helpful to write down the things you want to discuss so that you’re sure you cover what’s important to you.
Here are some tips you may want to share with loved ones about how they can understand depression better, which can help a conversation go more easily.
Maintaining productivity at work can be challenging with depression. If depression is hindering your ability to keep up with a job, that is a sign that you need help and may benefit from treatment.
Workplace depression is a growing problem for employers, and many employers have increased their awareness of depression. If you’re falling behind on your work, it’s important to talk to your human resources department or supervisors to let them know you may need help. They may be able to assist you in finding treatment services or provide some accommodations, such schedule adjustments or breaks. Notably, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires reasonable accommodations for people with mental health issues.
Learn more about ways to manage depression and work.
Researchers have found that keeping a journal that expresses inner thoughts and feelings can help reduce depression and stress. Writing can also help you get perspective on what you may need to feel better.
“I’ve kept journals since I was 13,” a MyDepressionTeam member shared. “I don’t know how it helps anyone else, but it’s the one place where I can be honest about everything inside my head.”
A journal can help you articulate the things you’d like to share with others about your depression. Before having a serious conversation with a friend or family member about the support you need, it can be helpful to write down your thoughts and make a list. Writing down questions before a medical appointment can also help ensure that you are covering what is important to you in terms of treatment goals.
In-person and online support groups, such as MyDepressionTeam, can offer resources and tips for how to get help with depression.
One member had this to say about the support they get from MyDepressionTeam. “Once in the middle of night I got on here and just wrote, ‘Is anyone here? I need help.’ And several jumped in and said, ‘I’m here, what’s going on?’ Awesome family here.”
Sharing your needs and experiences with others who can understand your mental health challenges can help you feel less isolated. Support groups can also motivate you to reach out for help. Mental Health America offers a directory to help you find a local support group, if you’d like to connect with other people with depression face to face in your area.
Sometimes depression can cause overwhelming feelings of helplessness and worthlessness. If you or a loved one are in emotional distress due to depression and at risk of inflicting self-harm, it’s essential to seek immediate help. In the U.S., you can call or text 988 or chat online for support. You can find other resources through NIMH.
Depression can be treated, usually with a combination of psychotherapy (talk therapy), group therapy, and medication. Psychotherapy can help you develop coping strategies and self-care to improve your quality of life and sense of well-being. A range of medications are available for treating depression, typically prescribed by a psychiatrist. Sometimes people with depression may need to try different treatment options —or a combination — in order to find an effective one.
“Only medical assistance helped me,” a MyDepressionTeam member wrote. “Get professional help.”
“I would suggest a therapist. That way you can physically talk to someone,” said one member.
You may need both a therapist and a psychiatrist to manage your depression. If you need help to find the appropriate mental health professionals, talk to your doctor openly about your experience with depression. They can provide referrals.
Other resources that can help you find help include:
“Start with your PCP [primary care physician],” one member suggested. “They should be able to refer you to someone you can talk to (perhaps a psychologist or social worker). The PCP should be able to tell you if medication should be considered or not. You just need to start talking to the right people.”
Another member wrote, “This week has been the most challenging and mentally draining week ever. But I now have an appointment with the community mental health team for next month to see what help and support I need and possibly change or put me on new meds.”
“It’s OK to not be OK,” a member said. “Ask for help.”
MyDepressionTeam is the social network for people with depression and their loved ones. On MyDepressionTeam, more than 143,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with depression.
How have you asked for help with depression? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.