Depression is an isolating mental health condition and often the illness itself can make it difficult for someone to feel they are able to reach out for support. However you are not alone in experiencing these feelings.
The stigma around mental health conditions is continuing to decrease and times are changing - it is possible to find a support base, be that with close friends, family members, societies, a religious leader or a therapist, who can stand beside you in your journey through this illness.
This article will help you in taking the first step, suggesting strategies in how to ask for help with depression. We recognize that depression can affect anyone of any age, from all walks of life and in differing circumstances. We hope to show you that you are not alone and to inspire you to find the right person for you who will help you to talk about your state of mind. The most important thing to remember is that it is ok to ask for help - don't be afraid to speak up.
Depression is a medical condition, sometimes known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, though a person doesn't need a diagnosis in order for them to be suffering from the illness. Some people find it reassuring to know that their symptoms have a medical basis and that they aren't due to any personal failings. This is the first thing to bear in mind, as this will help you resist stigmatizing yourself.
Depression is characterized by experiencing long periods of persistent low feeling which interrupts your ability to go about your daily life and affects your experience of the world. The mental health profession normally defines a 'long period' as more than three weeks. As with any mental health condition, the exact symptoms of someone experiencing depression will vary, both over time and also from person to person. Typical symptoms of depression include long-term experiences of:
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, it is important to reach out for help as soon as possible. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, 24/7, and confidential hotline that provides connections for those experiencing distress or a suicidal crisis with trained counselors who can issue emergency emotional support.
It is important to remember that you are not alone in feeling this way - a recent study by Statista showed that 22% of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with depression or are showing symptoms of depressive disorders, alongside 280 million people worldwide.
It can be difficult to break yourself out of a cycle of depression, though it is worth remembering that many have found asking for help as a positive first step.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but it will be helpful for you to think about who you will be most comfortable opening up to. This will vary from person to person, as we all face different individual circumstances with our family, friends, and communities that will shape our ability to talk freely, comfortably, and without judgment. For example, for some people, it may feel less overwhelming to talk to someone who is not a close family member or friend.
You might have an intuitive feeling about who would be most suitable for responding to your thoughts with compassion and understanding. Here are some pointers that can guide you in your possible options as you make this first step:
During any low point, be that during a period of depression, grief, worry, anxiety, or instability, it is always good to have a supportive circle of family and friends as these are the people who know you best.
You might already have an understanding of which family members or friends you can rely on, in which case it is worth reaching out to them. Maybe one of them has already noticed that you are not appearing your normal self and has asked you about this. This could be a sign that they are giving you an opportunity to talk about how you are doing.
If not, think about who in your circle of family or friends is a good listener and is generous in their capacity to truly care for others around them. These people are likely to be the most responsive when you ask for help.
You might feel like your support circle is more embedded in wider community networks such as religious groups, associations, clubs, or educational settings. These community groups often feature supportive and experienced figures whose role is to look out for the health and well-being of those in their network.
If this is the case, then consider talking to the pastoral lead within your community, be that a religious leader, teacher, student support, or school nurse.
It is good to ask yourself if you would feel less pressure in discussing feelings of depression with a stranger rather than with someone who knows you personally. If you think you'd find it easier to talk to a stranger, you should consider the different mental health support groups that are available.
If you would prefer to speak face-to-face with a support group, you should find out what groups are available in your neighborhood. Mental health support groups are often built on a model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and have been created to offer peer-led advice on how to cope with similar experiences and build empowering solidarity among such individuals. An example of one such group is Emotions Anonymous.
These groups are especially good for meeting others who are experiencing similar issues and can battle the impression you may have that you are alone in your feelings.
Some of us would prefer to process our mental well-being with someone we don't know intimately. Talking with trained psychologists or counselors can also help us unload our minds without worrying that we may be a burden or distressing to those who are listening.
Medical professionals who are familiar with depression can help us gain insight into our state of well-being that we wouldn't be able to gain alone or through talking with family or friends. Mental health professionals have deep knowledge of this subject and if they believe that you would benefit from long-term therapy or medication, they can prescribe effective treatment plans.
We all have different modes of communication, but when it comes to talking about mental illness it is best to talk as openly as possible - though we recognize that this in itself is a demanding task. These pointers below might be of use.
The first thing to check is your own attitude towards your mental ill-health. You should ask yourself honestly if you are carrying any stigma in your attitude to yourself, or a sense of shame, guilt, or embarrassment when you think about the topic.
It is often difficult to explain how we are feeling, and even more so if we are feeling depressed. To overcome this, we recommend that you try writing down your symptoms as they occur, even if you can't pinpoint a clear reason. This will help you remember and process your emotional experiences.
Likewise, having this written record would help you to show yourself and others how a collection of different emotional experiences together have contributed to a wider sense that you are depressed.
If you are thinking about visiting a medical professional, it would be useful for them to see this list of experiences that have made you feel like you are struggling with depression. DocReady, an app, has been designed to help you prepare for speaking about mental ill-health with a GP or medical professional.
You can also try practicing the conversation alone, rehearsing any key points that you would like to express. This might help you build confidence in opening up and expressing yourself, which is a fundamental part of seeking help for a mental health disorder.
Mental illness is still a difficult area for many to understand, and it can be the case that we might open up to someone who doesn't respond in a helpful or constructive way.
This could be because they are not familiar with thinking about emotional well-being, and haven't considered how significant it is in shaping our ability to relate to the world and our personal selves. This could lead them to be scared that they don't know how to help us, and what you see as a bad or a cold reaction could simply be an expression of this fear.
Others might have preconceived ideas about depression that prevents them from listening to you carefully and personally.
It is important to speak up if you think a medical professional has not taken you seriously. This could be because the professional you were speaking to was not trained in mental health matters. In this case, it is worth seeking out psychologists, psychiatrists, or counselors as they are always going to respond to the discussion of your feelings and emotions with due respect.
Asking for help with depression is the beginning of a process of healing and finding pathways to recovery.
Today, mental illness is becoming a progressively growing concern in society and it is increasingly looking to support those who are struggling. Treatment options are always developing and it is likely that you will be able to find the therapeutic approach that seems most appropriate to you.
At the GIA Miami center, we have developed a multicultural, multilingual team of healthcare professionals who are dedicated to finding personalized methods to bring those struggling with mental illness back to a place of health and well-being.
The mental health team at GIA Miami can offer professional help to those who feel overwhelmed by the symptoms of depression. Our treatment facilities specialize in a pioneering and non-invasive form of depression therapy known as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), shown to provide long-term relief from the symptoms of depression.
If you seek advice on how our therapeutic approach could help, then call us today. Together, we can help you begin building a path to recovery.
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