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How to Seek Support When Depressed

Depression can leave you feeling alone - but it doesn’t have to be this way. Learn how you can seek support from loved ones to feel better.

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Depression can be one of the most debilitating and frightening experiences of one’s life. Some of its many symptoms include:

  • A feeling of extreme sadness or despair
  • Feeling ‘empty’, helpless, hopeless and worthless
  • Guilt about feeling this way
  • Lack of energy and activity
  • Persistent and consistent fatigue
  • Inability to carry on with daily tasks
  • Withdrawal from family and previously enjoyable activities
  • Notable changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Inability to experience pleasure, and
  • Having thoughts of death or suicide.

Sometimes, you might feel hopeless about ever feeling better and guilty for having such intense feelings of pain without any apparent cause. This might make you want to withdraw from your friends and family. But avoiding people can actually end up intensifying your symptoms. In fact, social support is one of the most important factors that promotes the prevention of emotional distress and recovery from depression.

The good news is that there are always places and people from whom you can seek support, including your family, friends, doctor, therapist, teachers, colleagues, and even your pets. The obstacle most people face is the stigma surrounding emotional distress which makes people feel ashamed to talk about their difficult experiences. Unfortunately, our society does not currently allow for an open discussion of emotional difficulties like it does for physical ailments. But all hope is not lost – things are changing slowly and there are a few things you can do to ease yourself into this process.

Be mindful that you don’t judge yourself for your condition. You did not do something to deserve this and you are not weak for feeling this way. Depression does not define you any more than a physical illness would. People from any socio-economic background, gender, or sexuality can suffer from an illness like depression. If you are suffering from depression, try to remember:

  • Your negative feelings are a result of your condition and not a prediction of your future.
  • You are not depressed because you are weak or have a character flaw; just like any other illness, depression can be treated and managed.
  • People who love you do not think of you as a burden. That is the voice of depression lying to you. Try not to listen to it.

Whenever you are ready, help will be available. As a first recourse, you can talk to your friends or family, if you feel supported by them. You can also ask for your general physician’s advice or even reach out to a therapist. While reaching out offline might be difficult at this point in time, you can connect with a therapist online. You can pick the mode of disclosure as per your convenience as well. It can be over the phone, or via text or even email. Moreover, there are multiple support groups online that help you connect with people who are currently going through or have at some point gone through a similar experience. 

The important thing is to choose help, no matter what kind. Depression can make you feel like a failure and can leave you feeling that you’re someone who doesn’t deserve help. But that’s not true. People who love you would want to help you, just like you would help someone you love. Of course, it is still difficult to talk about something like depression. So, pick someone you know you can trust and you can build more resources thereafter. 

Sometimes people don’t know how they can help in such a situation. If you feel like you have an idea about what you need (for example, you just need them to listen to you or to go with you to the market or to your therapist) let them know. This is a difficult journey, no doubt, but it gets easier with support. You might think that there is no way out of this, but the truth is that you are of value, even with your depression. If you seek help, this would get better, in a way you cannot imagine right now. So, trust that change is a constant and that help is always, always available, even if it comes from a source you never would have considered.

References:

(2017, June 29). Blurt It Out. DEPRESSION: HOW AND WHEN TO ASK FOR HELP. Retrieved from https://www.blurtitout.org/2017/06/29/depression-how-and-when-to-ask-for-help/ 

Iliades, C. (2011, July 11). Everyday Health. Asking for Help When You’re Depressed. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/major-depression/ask-for-help/

Krull, E. (2018, October 8). Psych Central – Trusted mental health, depression, bipolar, ADHD & psychology information. Social Support Is Critical for Depression Recovery. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/social-support-is-critical-for-depression-recovery/ 

(n.d.). The Live Love Laugh Foundation. Depression. Retrieved from https://www.thelivelovelaughfoundation.org/depression.html

Krull, E. (2018, October 8). Psych Central – Trusted mental health, depression, bipolar, ADHD & psychology information. Social Support Is Critical for Depression Recovery. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/lib/social-support-is-critical-for-depression-recovery/ 

Paykel, E. S. (1994). Life events, social support and depression, 50–58.

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