Depression Is a Major Health Concern: How to Get Help

It’s been a few months now, and your blues won’t budge. If you’ve been thinking you might have depression, it’s worth exploring this medical condition. Understanding what you’re dealing with, knowing you’re not alone, and learning to cope in healthy ways can change your life.

The science on depression and depressive disorders has come a long way, and you can benefit from getting help specific to your condition. Here’s how to get started.

1. Understand What Depression Is


It is important to recognize that depression is a kind of catch-all phrase often used to describe multiple disorders. You can have severe depression that comes with suicidal thoughts, in which case you may need mental health rehab. Alternatively, you may experience a mild, temporary depressive disorder that might just call for a few lifestyle tweaks. Anxiety can even be lumped into depression when people have bouts of both that come in waves.

Depression can also be situational, as with women who struggle with postpartum depression after giving birth. Other people suffer from seasonal depression or anxiety during the dark days of fall and winter. And this is by no means a complete list. Each condition comes with its own symptoms and is specific to the person experiencing it. Part of the process of getting help is simply being aware that depression is a medical issue worthy of treatment.

2. Acknowledge Your Feelings

One of the most powerful steps you can take toward alleviating your suffering is to acknowledge that you are suffering. In these times of highlight reels on social media, many people feel pressured to be “fine.” You’re often expected to “suck it up” and push through. And while a bit of grit in life can make you stronger, there is no pushing through depression.

It’s OK to not be OK —- in fact, it’s quite normal these days. The world has been through a lot in recent years, and many people are feeling isolated, sad, and even hopeless. The sooner you acknowledge your feelings, the sooner you can do something about them. So admit that you’re human and that you feel however you feel.

3. Recognize the Warning Signs and Symptoms


Knowing when to get help for depression is critical to getting that help. If you’ve been feeling down, you can take the usual steps of spending time outside, moving your body, getting better sleep, and talking to your friends and family. But you may have to recognize that those steps aren’t helping, or that you’re not even capable of taking them. Indeed, you may be contributing to your depressive symptoms with addictive behaviors like drinking, taking drugs, or over- or undereating.

If you think you might have depression, pay attention to the warning signs, such as those addictive behaviors, among others. People suffering from a depressive disorder may feel lethargic, apathetic, or overwhelmingly sad. Others, particularly for those with bipolar disorder, might experience extreme mood swings. Also, pay attention to your relationships, your performance at work, and your ability to function at home. When you notice disruptive patterns that go on for more than two weeks or three weeks, it’s likely time to seek assistance.

4. Make the Phone Call

Sometimes, getting that help is a matter of making a phone call. If you’re feeling suicidal and need immediate help, call 1-800-273-TALK, and you will be connected to a trained counselor in your area. Once you feel safe and stable enough to move into making progress toward healing, you can start making other calls.

Therapy is still a taboo in many circles of society, so it can take time to gather the courage to contact a mental health professional. To find a therapist who’s right for you, request a referral from your primary care physician. You can also ask trusted friends and family members for their recommendations and examine candidate providers’ online ratings and reviews. If you’re suffering from a combination of addiction and depression, you may require more comprehensive treatment from a rehab center that offers in-patient programs.

5. Consider Medication


As helpful as talk therapy can be, it may not be sufficient to tackle your depression if your brain chemistry isn’t cooperating. Scientists theorize that in individuals with depression, the brain circuitry that regulates mood isn’t operating effectively. That’s often because the brain has reduced levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that enables the body to regulate anxiety and experience feelings of well-being.

By preventing the reabsorption of serotonin, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors act to boost serotonin levels in the brain. Common SSRIs include Prozac and Zoloft, and they’re frequently prescribed as a complement to therapy. Individuals battling depression stand a better chance of victory when their brain chemistry isn’t fighting against them.

Triumphing Over Depression

Depression is a serious health concern that can affect so much more than your mental state. It can impact heart health, cause gastrointestinal issues, and even contribute to joint and limb pain. Extending outward, depressive disorders can disrupt your family dynamic and lead to divorce and even verbal or physical abuse. Fortunately, none of these outcomes is inevitable. Take the steps necessary to get help today, and put yourself on track for a life you look forward to.