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Getting Help for Depression
Depressed Persons May Need To Get Help
The very nature of depressive illnesses can interfere with a person's ability
or wish to get help. Depression saps energy and self-esteem and makes a person
feel tired, worthless, helpless, and hopeless.
Seriously depressed people need encouragement from family and friends to seek
treatment to ease their pain. Some people need even more help, becoming so depressed,
they must be taken for treatment. Don't ignore suicidal thoughts, words or acts.
Seek professional help immediately
How To Help Yourself If You Are Depressed
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless.
Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It
is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression
and typically do not accurately reflect the situation. Negative thinking fades
as treatment begins to take effect.
In the meantime:
Set realistic goals and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility. Break
large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you
can. Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better
than being alone and secretive. Participate in activities that may make you
feel better. Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in
religious, social, or other activities may help. Expect your mood to improve
gradually, not immediately. Feeling better takes time. People rarely "snap
out of" a depression. But they can feel a little better day by day. It
is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted.
Before deciding to make a significant transition--change jobs, get married or
divorced--discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective
view of your situation. Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative
thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression
responds to treatment. Let your family and friends help you.
How Family and Friends Can Help the Depressed Person
The most important thing anyone can do for the depressed person is to help
him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging
the individual to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several
weeks), or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion,
it may require making an appointment and accompanying the depressed person to
the doctor. It may also mean monitoring whether the depressed person is taking
medication. The depressed person should be encouraged to obey the doctor's orders
about the use of alcoholic products while on medication. The second most important
thing is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience,
affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and
listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities
and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Report them to the depressedperson's
therapist. Invite the depressed person for walks, outings, to the movies, and
other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage
participation in some activities that once gave pleasure, such as hobbies, sports,
religious or cultural activities, but do not push the depressed person to undertake
too much too soon. The depressed person needs diversion and company, but too
many demands can increase feelings of failure.
Do not accuse the depressed person of faking illness or of laziness, or expect
him or her "to snap out of it." Eventually, with treatment, most depressed
people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person
that, with time and help, he or she will feel better.
Where To Get Help
If unsure where to go for help, check the Yellow Pages under "mental health,"
"health," "social services," "suicide prevention,"
"crisis intervention services," "hotlines," "hospitals,"
or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses. In times of crisis,
the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help
for an emotional problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get
Listed below are the types of people and places that will make a referral to,
or provide, diagnostic and treatment services.
Family doctors Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists,
social workers, or mental health counselors Health maintenance organizations
Community mental health centers Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient
clinics University- or medical school-affiliated programs State hospital outpatient
clinics Family service/social agencies Private clinics and facilities Employee
assistance programs Local medical and/or psychiatric societies.
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