Depression Support

Depression support may come in different forms. For most people who are depressed, support comes from a variety of sources. This article gives an overview of the different types of support that may be of assistance to a depressed person. Keep reading for depression support sources.

Supporting Oneself

People who do not have the most severe forms of depression may be able to do things to support themselves. Some of the best self-supporting choices include:

  • Take the time to do things that make you happy.
  • Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime. Exercise can improve your mood and your ability to sleep.
  • Avoid things that stress you out, when it’s practical to do so.
  • Seek the care you need. Start with student health services, if you’re in college or your primary care physician.  Take advantage of counseling opportunities, support groups, and other support that you find helpful. Counseling may take a while to bring about results, so don’t give up if you don’t see immediate change.
  • Consider researching your diagnosis yourself. The purpose of this is not to debate with your caregiver, but to become well-informed and understand your options. Popular sites - even ones with medical personnel checking them - can have errors. It’s best to read multiple sites and check anything that doesn’t make sense or that is contradictory. Try

Primary Care Physician

The idea of a primary care physician is someone who knows about you in a broader way than a specialist and is responsible for following your overall health, not just giving you a yearly physical. You may not know why you are depressed, but it’s an important thing to mention, even if you think it’s not too bad or it will go away by itself.

Because depression may have an underlying physical cause that needs treatment and because it shares symptoms with other conditions, its good to be really clear about your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them. That you’ve had insomnia for three weeks or been feeling unaccountably sad for a month is more useful for understanding than saying that you’ve been kind of under the weather for awhile.

Psychologist or Other Mental Health Professional

If you are suffering from a depressive disorder that your primary care physician cannot or is not able to treat, or one that s/he thinks would be better handled by a mental health professional, you may be referred to a counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. The choice of the care provider will partly depend on what care is thought to be needed, and may change depending on further decisions about whether treatment is to include counseling - whether individual, family, or group; medication; electroconvulsive therapy; or other approaches or procedures.

Family and Friends

As the people who both see a depressed person the most and are often the closest emotionally, family and friends, as well as romantic partners, are often the non-professionals with the best opportunity to provide support to someone who is depressed. Especially when a depressed person is no longer living at home, friends may be the ones who are most aware of changes in a person’s mood and behavior and can both provide important support and be on alert for escalating issues.

Experts advise that criticism of a person who is depressed should be avoided, as should attempts to cheer the person up. It is best to be available and offer to help in any way that’s useful. If, however, the person expresses any thoughts or takes any actions that seem to you to be related to self-harm, it is wise to urge that the person get professional help. If the person is not open to this, then you should contact someone yourself, either a crisis center with a hotline, a student health center if you are on a college campus, or an emergency room. They can help provide you with information so you can decide what needs to be done next.

If danger seems imminent, simply call 911 or a crisis hotline and explain the situation and people with experience will come to help. Crisis numbers can be found in the front of most phonebooks. The National Suicide Crisis Hotline is 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).

Support Groups and Online Forums

There are various kinds of support groups for people who are depressed, some that meet in person, and some that are loser and take the form of online forums. Each have their benefits and downsides.

Support groups are often long-standing, with a somewhat constant membership and run by an accredited organization. In a support group, the leader is aware of the dynamics of the group and can help to deal with any issues that may arise. On the other hand, the person who is severely depressed may not have the wherewithal to leave the house and attend a weekly or biweekly meeting.

Online forums are come as you are and can be accessed any time and from anywhere. Often experts respond to some of the postings, and you can designate that your posting is for a doctor. But other than that, your post may be responded to by anyone who happens onto the forum, and - even with moderators - there is no assurance that the responses will be helpful, and not even that they will be kind. A person in a fragile emotional state would be well advised to think hard before exposing him- or herself on an online forum. See the article “Depression Forums” for more information.


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