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5 Signs You Should Seek Help for Depression 

Depression is an extraordinarily common condition, affecting about 15 out of every 100 people. Although there has been a progressive expansion over several decades in the variety of treatments available for depression and increased awareness of its impact, there are still many people who don’t come forward for treatment or for whom treatment is delayed for long periods of time. It is critical to recognize that depression is a treatable condition, it is not a weakness or character flaw, but something for which it is important to seek help, and as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will be on a path to recovery, regaining control of your life. So, how do you know that it is appropriate to seek help, and how should you do so?

1. If you have any thoughts of suicide or self-harm. These are clearly an important and urgent warning signal that it is time to get help, and they should not be ignored. If you are having thoughts of suicide, you should reach out to a crisis service or hotline or, at a minimum, speak to someone you trust to help as soon as possible.

2. If you have symptoms of depression that persist over time. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression and they have not resolved spontaneously after a number of weeks, this is a pretty good indicator that is worth speaking to someone.

3. If your attempts to help yourself are not working. You will want to seek assistance if you have been trying to help yourself and this isn’t working. Some people will find that exercise, engaging with friends and family, establishing a healthy lifestyle, and meditation can help. However, even if you wish to continue to try these things, it can be helpful to get an assessment to see whether you’re on the right track.

4. If depression is having an impact on your day-to-day life. If you are having trouble with work, studying, or interacting with friends and family, this is a pretty good sign that it is worth reaching out for help.

5. If you are having to use alcohol or other drugs to help you cope with the way that you are feeling. Drinking or using drugs can temporarily numb your feelings, perhaps even make you feel better for a short period of time. However, in the long run, they will make things worse. Many drugs, including alcohol, can directly worsen depression. Problems with addiction or the consequences of impaired judgment are also likely to make it harder to recover in the long term.

If you have made the decision to seek help, let a close friend or family member know so you have some support on this journey. The most common starting point for seeking help is to reach out to your primary care doctor, as they will be able to confirm you have depression and what treatments are available. They should also have an idea of the mental health professionals available in your local community and perhaps some of which are available remotely and online.

Finally, there should be available crisis hotlines in your area, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).


Paul Fitzgerald, Ph.D., MBBS, is the Director of the School of Medicine and Psychology and a Professor of Psychiatry at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He completed his Medical Degree at Monash University, followed by a Master of Psychological Medicine and professional training in Psychiatry, leading to membership in the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. After a fellowship at the University of Toronto, he completed a research PhD in Psychiatry. Paul has conducted extensive research developing new treatments for depression and other conditions while continuing to practice as a psychiatrist and has established multiple clinical services in the provision of new treatment methods.

Written by Paul Fitzgerald, PhD, MBBS

978-1-57826-937-2, $17.95 paperback

978-1-57826-938-9, $9.99 ebook

Published by Hatherleigh Press.

Distributed through Penguin Random House.

Available wherever books are sold.

Cover Photo by Sofia Alejandra

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