Is there someone who will give you a safe space to express yourself and listen without judgement? You can start by talking about your struggles with them. Sometimes just talking to someone helps; but sometimes it may not - not everyone is able to listen without judgement and support you. Don’t be discouraged by this and seek professional help.
Call a helpline.
If you feel overwhelmed even after speaking to a trusted someone, or if you haven’t found an empathetic listener, you could call a helpline. A helpline offers emotional support and listening services. See here to fully understand what to expect from a helpline. You’ll also find numbers listed on the page.
Seek expert help
Remember, the signs of depression often indicate the existence of a clinical problem that may need both medical and therapeutic intervention. You can choose any of these mental health professionals depending on how much the symptoms are interfering with your ability to lead a normal life. Remember that only a psychiatrist can make a diagnosis and prescribe medication.
At any point, if you sense that you need more support than is offered by your the expert you are consulting, do not hesitate to seek help elsewhere. You are the best judge of what works for you.
If you can’t access a mental health expert at your local/ district hospital then you may want to speak to you general physician about your symptoms. Please remember that not all GPs are trained to diagnose mental illnesses but you can certainly ask them to recommend a mental health expert nearest to you.
Approaching a counselor can help you understand the emotional, behavioral issues that you may be dealing with in your life or during a depressive episode. Counseling is a structured process that focuses on resolving issues that are general life stressors, provide action-based strategies after understanding your thought process, beliefs and emotions. After going through counseling sessions, if you still don’t feel well, you will be (or can ask to be) referred to a psychiatrist.
A psychologist uses scientific tests and evidence-based interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy to help you overcome challenges and cope with depressive symptoms. You may have to go through psychological tests for the expert to understand and assess your mental health, and prescribe therapy that can help you cope better. If the expert finds that the symptoms need medication, they will recommend a psychiatrist for treatment.
Psychiatrists are doctors who will conduct medical tests to understand your physical and mental state of mind. They can tell if your symptoms are physical-health based or psychological based. Based on your symptoms and their tests, they can diagnose the illness and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Based on the severity of the illness, they may prescribe medication. A psychiatrist may also recommend that you seek therapy from a psychologist in addition to taking medication.
If you are apprehensive about taking medication, discuss it with your doctor. Here are some FAQs we put together in anti-depressants.
Depression is not a sign of weakness. Come let’s talk.
Signs and symptoms of depression:
Feeling low and sad most of the time
Loss of interest and difficulty in completing daily activities
Inability to enjoy things that you found interesting earlier
Difficulty in concentration, thinking or making decisions
(example: hobbies, focusing on studies, etc.)
Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
Negative thought about self, life and future
Loss of appetite or overeating
Feeling guilty and blaming oneself for past failures; feeling unworthy
Frequently absent from work or being unable to work
Feeling hopeless about the future
Disturbed sleep or being unable to sleep
Lack of interest in sex/ sexual activity
Experiencing body aches such as headaches, neck pain, or cramps
Thoughts about self-harm, death or suicide
In case you notice five or more of these symptoms in someone you know, you should encourage them to consult a mental health expert.
If you have five or more of the symptoms in the list and if the symptoms persist for more than two weeks, please do seek help. You may think that you’re just going through a long phase of sadness, but it’s better to be tested by an expert and rule out the possibility. Depression is a clinical problem with a variety of treatment options.
While talking to someone does help in clearing the minds and gaining support, the severity of your blues may need the intervention of a mental health expert. An expert will help you understand why you’re feeling the way you are and equip you with methods to cope.