How Do I Ask for Help For Depression?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I am 17 years old and am in desperate need of help. I feel like I may be suffering from severe depression, but I have no idea how to ask my dad for help. I have trouble starting or finishing tasks. I have trouble sleeping. I have lost interest in food, but eat out of boredom. I used to cut a lot (almost 100 cuts a day), but have stopped. Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m just a burden to my family. I feel as if things would be easier for my family if I wasn’t around, but I know that if I killed myself things would only be worse for them. I am living in perpetual misery – I feel truly alone. I started feeling this way about two and a half years ago when I went through a very hard breakup. I don’t know what to do or how to ask for the help I know I need. I’ve tried talking to my friends, but they all give me the “just get over it” speech. None of them understand what I’m feeling and don’t want to listen when I try to explain. How should I tell my dad that I want professional help, even though I know we can’t afford it?

A: I am so very sorry that you are feeling so miserable. And I’m very, very glad that you wrote. It certainly does sound like you may be suffering from a clinical depression. Your friends probably don’t understand because a clinical depression is very different from the usual blues that happen after a hard breakup. You’re feeling quite stuck; hopeless about the situation and helpless to change it.

If you can’t talk to your dad yet, please consider talking with a school counselor or your family doctor. Both will probably know about therapists and clinics that either have a sliding fee scale or special programs for adolescents in need. Many states have insurance programs to pay for behavioral health services for people your age. Please don’t let money be a factor. Usually there’s a way to get the help you need if you will only start asking.

You are a sensitive guy who had a harder time than most with heartbreak and who cares enough for his family to realize that hurting yourself will only hurt them terribly. That same sensitivity can help you out of this misery with some coaching.

While you investigate how to get a therapist, please keep this number with you — and use it. 1-800-273-TALK. This is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Counselors are available 24/7 to talk to people who are feeling alone, scared, depressed, and angry. Please give them a chance to give you a hand.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Aug 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). How Do I Ask for Help For Depression?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 25, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/08/03/how-do-i-ask-for-help-for-depression/