Getting Help
  • Where should a person go for help?
  • Where can I find out about support groups for depression?
  • How can family and friends help the depressed person?
Q. Where should a person go for help?

If you think you might need help, see your internist or general practitioner and explain your situation. Sometimes an actual physical illness can cause depression-like symptoms so that is why it is best to see your regular physician first to be checked out. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a psychiatrist if the severity of your depression warrants it.

Other sources of help include the members of the clergy, local suicide hotline, local hospital emergency room, local mental health center.

Q. Where can I find out about support groups for depression?

The following is a list of national organizations dealing with the issues of depression. Please note: Model groups are not national organizations and should be contacted primarily by persons wishing to start a similar group in their area. Also, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope when requesting information from any group. When calling a contact number, remember that many of them are home numbers, so be considerate of the time you call. Keep in mind the different time zones.

Q. How can family and friends help the depressed person?

The most important things anyone can do for depressed people is to help them get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging a depressed 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 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. Always report them to the doctor. 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 laziness or expect him or her to "snap out of it." Eventually, with treatment, most depressed people do yet better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person that with time and help, he or she will feel better.

For more information, contact:

Your doctor

Your school / university / private practice counsellor

The Mental Health Unit at the hospital