The CDC estimates that 7.6 percent of Americans suffer from depression, with 3 percent suffering from severe depression. Chances are, you or someone you care about will experience depression at some point in their lives, so it’s important to understand both what depression is and how you can cope with it. As anyone who has suffered from depression will tell you, depression isn’t just about being sad. It’s not simply a matter of having a bad day, or terrible weather, or a bad break up. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), depression is “a condition in which a person feels discouraged, sad, hopeless, unmotivated, or disinterested in life in general” (see a full list of symptoms here). In a depressed person, these feelings persist for two weeks or more, and they can either be triggered by a specific event, like an illness or death of a loved one, or they can simply appear from seemingly nowhere. A 2010 study found that half of people who experience major depression in the U.S. do not seek treatment. This statistic is particularly regrettable because depression, though potentially very debilitating, tends to respond well to intervention, through medication, psychotherapy, and other methods.
There is a major stigma against mental illness in the country, which, I imagine, is at least partly the reason that so many people don’t seek care for their depression. But it is essential for all of us to realize that depression is an illness, and therefore should be treated the way you would treat any other serious illness: by seeking help from people who know what they’re doing.
There are valuable resources available to people experiencing depression in a variety of situations and age groups. Recovering from depression is a long road, but the first step is simply seeking help, both from the people close to you and the professionals. These are 9 resources you should know:
First and foremost, if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline : 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
The ADAA website offers information about depression and anxiety on their website, as well as a database of mental health providers licensed to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. You can type in your zip code to get a list of providers in your area.
The DBSA focuses particularly on helping those suffering from depression and/or bipolar disorder. The website can connect you to in-person and online support groups, as well as support via educational podcasts and wellness tools.
Erika’s Lighthouse is an organization dedicated to helping adolescents and teenagers cope with depression. Visit the website for information about how teens can identify, cope with, and treat depression, as well resources for parents of adolescents struggling with depression.
Mental Health America provides screening tools for a variety of mental disorders. The organization’s website provides information about mental health for a wide variety of people, from college students to military families.
Approximately 15 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy or after having a baby. PSI’s website contains information about postpartum depression and treatment, and can connect users to support groups in their areas.
The Trevor Project offers crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ people, ages 13-24. The Trevor Project offers a 24/7 crisis intervention hotline (1-866-488-7386), and lets LGBTQ teens and young adults talk to counselors through free online chat and texting services.
ULifeline is a project of the JED Foundation aimed at providing college students with resources for dealing with depression and other mental illnesses. ULifeline offers confidential self-evaluations into which you can enter the name of your university; the website can then provide you with information about all the resources available to you at your school.
UROK seeks to provide support and resources for teens struggling with mental illness. Visit the UROK YouTube channel to learn about how others have dealt with their depression and anxiety, and visit the website for an extensive list of resources to help with a variety of mental disorders.