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How Can I Ask for Help with My Depression?

Let’s Talk About It

November 30, 2023

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Photography by Zamrznutitonovi/Getty Images

Photography by Zamrznutitonovi/Getty Images

by Clara Siegmund

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Medically Reviewed by:

Danielle Wade, LCSW

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by Clara Siegmund

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Danielle Wade, LCSW

•••••

•••••

If you’re wondering where to turn for help, or what to say, here are some resources and methods to help you find both immediate and ongoing support.

If you have depression, you likely know that it doesn’t do any good to ignore your symptoms and try to manage everything by yourself.

But sometimes, it’s hard to figure out how to ask for support — even if you know you’re surrounded by people ready to help you.

For the times when you need a little extra assistance with reaching out for help, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are some resources you can turn to for immediate and ongoing support, as well as some ideas for how to prepare yourself for a conversation and find the words to ask for help.

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Getting immediate help

If you’re in crisis or are considering suicide, you’re not alone. Help is immediately available, right now.

Helplines

Here are some options to get help right this minute. Each of these helpline services is free, confidential, and available 24/7:

  • Call 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: This service is available in English and Spanish. Calling will connect you with a crisis counselor right away. You can also text 988 or use the online live chat option to be connected with a counselor. (Keep in mind there may be a short wait time if you use the text or chat option.)
  • Text “HOME” to 741741 to connect with the Crisis Text Line: This service is available in English and Spanish. You can also use the online live chat option to be connected with a counselor. Here are the numbers to text if you’re located in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), Canada, or Ireland.
  • Text 1-800-985-5990 to reach the Disaster Distress Helpline: This service is available in over 100 languages, including ASL for deaf or hard-of-hearing callers. Certain languages may need a third-party interpreting service, provided through the helpline. This helpline is available to anyone experiencing distress due to natural or human-caused disasters, spanning from mass violence, infectious disease outbreaks, to anniversaries and other trigger events.
  • Visit Befrienders Worldwide if you’re outside the United States: This service will connect you to the nearest help center based on your location.

Hospitals

If you feel like you’re in danger and need a medical professional in front of you immediately, you can also call 911 or go to the nearest hospital or emergency room.

When you arrive, tell the emergency room attendant why you’re there and they’ll get you help. If you’d like to know more about what an ER trip may look like, this article shares a personal experience about going to the hospital for a mental health crisis.

In some cases, the best way to keep yourself safe could be a hospital stay or participation in hospital services.

Maybe you come to this conclusion yourself, or maybe your therapist suggests it. Maybe you went to the emergency room on your own, and a medical professional says they would like to admit you for a bit.

Depending on the level of care you need, different types of hospital services may be helpful, and not all of them involve overnight stays. Options include:

  • Inpatient hospitalization: 24-hour care in a psychiatric unit of a general hospital or psychiatric hospital
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): A minimum of 20 hours per week participating in various mental health treatment services
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): A minimum of 9 hours per week participating in various mental health treatment services

To learn more about hospital services, here are articles detailing personal experiences with a PHP and with an IOP.

When your depression feels all-encompassing, when you’re unable to take care of yourself, when you’re having thoughts of harming yourself or are considering suicide, tell someone. Even if it feels scary or impossible, you can do it.

Research suggests that acknowledging and talking about suicide may reduce thoughts of self-harm, help offer relief from distress, and lead to improvements in mental health.

If you’d like to know more about how to start a conversation, here’s an article sharing a personal journey about talking with someone about suicide.

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Consider therapy

If you find yourself wondering, “Who can I talk with about depression?” one option that many people find helpful is a therapist.

Research suggests that therapy is an effective tool for treating depression. Therapy can be a great ongoing source of support to help you manage your depression, work through your symptoms and feelings, and develop strategies and tools for everyday use.

When necessary, a medical professional can also prescribe antidepressant medication as part of your treatment regimen.

Studies have demonstrated that rates of recovery and remission from depression are higher when people take antidepressant medication together with therapy, versus taking medication without therapy.

This 2023 review indicates that therapy may help prolong recovery and remission achieved through medical treatment or more intensive psychological treatment.

In other words, continuing therapy even when you’re not experiencing a depressive episode can be a useful and effective tool to help you manage your depression and stop symptoms from returning.

So for those who have already found a trusted therapist: Wonderful, keep going! And for those who are still looking or are just starting to consider therapy: Wonderful, keep going!

If you’re based in the United States, here are some resources to help you find a medical professional near you:

Speak with someone you trust

Therapists aren’t the only ones you can talk with about your depression: You can also ask friends and loved ones for support.

Friendships are nourishing, and sharing with loved ones what’s happening in your life can be beneficial and heartening. This means reaching out whenever you need to, and sharing the good and the bad with your support network.

You can try finding a close friend or family member who you’re comfortable with, who you feel safe with, and who you trust, and telling them that you need support.

Communicating as openly and honestly as you can helps the other person understand your needs — and helps you remember that you’re cared for and loved.

It can also be useful to communicate specific ways that a loved one can help you, if you’re able to articulate any. This can be something as simple as saying:

  • “I’m in a bad place. Are you available to talk at (time/day)?”
  • “I’m feeling isolated. Can you check in with me each (time of day) so I know you’re there?”
  • “I’m having a hard time with tasks. Can you help me with (grocery shopping, dinner, laundry, etc.) this week?”

If you’re looking for ways to ask a friend for help with depression, this article has more suggestions for starting a conversation.

Talking with friends isn’t a replacement for therapy, of course. But having another person to talk with can go a long way in helping you see that you’re not alone.

Also, communicating your needs with the people you’re comfortable with can help add to your treatment.

For example, here’s an article about a personal experience of asking friends for a little extra help during a therapist’s vacation.

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Practice asking first

It’s completely fine to feel nervous about reaching out for help with depression. The good news is, you don’t have to work through your nerves alone.

If you’re having a hard time starting a conversation with people in your life, you can try practicing asking for help first.

This can mean anything from going word for word over what you want to say and how you want to say it, to thinking generally about the goals of a conversation and what you want to come away with.

Your therapist is one great resource for practicing. You can also try practicing with another person you trust, like a close friend or loved one.

Then, once you feel comfortable and ready, you can try reaching out and starting a conversation about depression with someone in your life.

Here are just a few ways you can prepare to ask for help with depression:

  • Make a list of different conversation starters.
  • Write down what you want to communicate about what you’re feeling and experiencing.
  • Come up with a sentence or two for how to talk about each item.
  • Choose some times and places where you’d feel comfortable talking.
  • Roleplay with your therapist (or friend, or loved one, or chosen helper).
  • Practice, practice, practice what you want to say until you feel comfortable.

Of course, you might feel ready to talk with someone right away without practicing first — that’s just fine, too.

Find communities who understand

Support groups are another great place to find people to talk with about depression.

Connecting with people who are living through similar experiences can be a powerful way to find kinship and community, feel less alone, and boost emotional support.

Support groups can also be a useful option if you’re not yet comfortable talking about your depression with close friends and loved ones.

This 2018 review suggests that support groups are effective at supplementing treatment and improving mental health in participants.

The review also notes that online support groups can provide an alternate platform for help and may be a useful addition to attending in-person meetings.

If you’re interested in finding in-person and online communities, consider checking out:

While in-person and online support groups aren’t a replacement for therapy or other forms of depression treatment, these groups can add to your care and help bridge the gap between appointments with medical professionals.

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The takeaway

Depression can be isolating, but help is all around you.

Whether you need immediate assistance from helplines and hospitals, or ongoing sources of support from therapists, support groups, and trusted friends and loved ones, there’s always someone who can help you with your depression when you need it.

Remember that you’re never alone. Remember that it’s fine to ask for help. Remember that someone will answer.

Medically reviewed on November 30, 2023

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Connect with thousands of members and find support through daily live chats, curated resources, and one-to-one messaging.

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About the author

Clara Siegmund

Clara Siegmund is a writer, editor, and translator (French to English) from Brooklyn, New York. She has a BA in English and French Studies from Wesleyan University and an MA in Translation from the Sorbonne. She frequently writes for women’s health publications. She is passionate about literature, reproductive justice, and using language to make information accessible.

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