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Home > Depression > Help for Anxiety Disorders
Depression, Not Just a Bad Mood Depression

Depression is a psychiatric disorder that is characterized by extreme feelings of sadness, anehedonia (or loss of pleasure), guilt, helplessness or hopelessness, an inability to concentrate, an increase or decrease of appetite, and thoughts of death. Depressive illness often interferes with an individual's normal functioning and often goes without being diagnosed for long periods of time causing a lot of problems for the both the individual with the illness and those around them.
Depression involves the body, mood and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about themselves and the way one approaches life in general.

 
Quick Facts   Symptoms
Types of Depression   Causes of Depression  
Depression in Women   Depression in Men  
Depression in the Elderly Depression in Children  
Treatment   Help For Depression  
 
How to Help Yourself If you are Depressed
Depressive disorders make one feel exhausted, worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Such negative thoughts and feelings make some people feel like giving up. It is important to realize that these negative views are part of the depression and typically do not accurately reflect the actual circumstances. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:
  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression and assume a reasonable amount of responsibility.
  • Break large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can.
  • Try to be with other people and to confide in someone; it is usually better than being alone and secretive.
  • Participate in activities that may make you feel better.
  • Mild exercise, going to a movie, a ballgame, or participating in religious, social, or other activities may help.
  • Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately.
  • Feeling better takes time.
  • It is advisable to postpone important decisions until the depression has lifted. Before deciding to make a significant transition-change jobs, get married or divorced-discuss it with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
  • People rarely "snap out of" a depression. But they can feel a little better day-by-day.
  • Remember, positive thinking will replace the negative thinking that is part of the depression and will disappear as your depression responds to treatment.
  • Most importantly: Let your family and friends help you.
How Family and Friends Can Help the Depressed Person
The most important thing anyone can do for the depressed person is to help him or her get an appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging the 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 depressed person should be encouraged to obey the doctor's orders about the use of alcoholic products while on 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. Report them to the depressed person's therapist. 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 of laziness, or expect him or her "to snap out of it." Eventually, with treatment, most people do get better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person that, with time and help, he or she will feel better.
Where to Get Help
If unsure where to go for help, check the Yellow Pages under "mental health," "health," "social services," "suicide prevention," "crisis intervention services," "hotlines," "hospitals," or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem, and will be able to tell you where and how to get further help.

Listed below are the types of people and places that will make a referral to, or provide, diagnostic and treatment services.

Family doctors
Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
Health maintenance organizations
Community mental health centers
Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
University- or medical school-affiliated programs
State hospital outpatient clinics
Family service, social agencies, or clergy
Private clinics and facilities
Employee assistance programs
Local medical and/or psychiatric societies
Depression
Bipolar Disorder
Anxiety Disorders
Panic Disorders
Obsessive Disorder
PTSD
Schizophrenia
Social Phobia
BPD
Specific Phobias
Gad
References

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