If unsure where to go for help and you’re afraid that you may be suffering from depression, there are many opportunities to find help for diagnosis and treatment of this concern. All mental disorders — including depression — benefit from treatment. And today more than ever, treatments are well-tolerated and time-limited.

While in the past people turned to the Yellow Pages in their phone book, most Americans are covered by health insurance that may require them to pick from a directory of mental health professionals approved by them to provide treatment. Check with your insurance company, as such directories are usually available for searching online. That should be your first stop in finding help for depression.

A second stop would be to check online directories for a referral to a mental health professional in your neighborhood. Psych Central provides such a therapist directory that you can search for free. These kinds of directories usually offer more information about a potential therapist than an insurance company’s directory, allowing you to better find someone that matches your needs.

In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor (or a mental health professional) at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem. Before discharge, the hospital 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 for depression. Remember, too, that your family physician or general practitioner may also be able to help refer you to a mental health professional for treatment. Although many people receive treatment for depression from their family doctor, a mental health professional — such as a psychiatrist (for medication prescriptions) or psychologist (for therapy) — is the better choice. Mental health professionals have extensive training in the most up-to-date, scientific methods of treatment for depression.

  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, or therapists
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMOs)
  • Community mental health centers
  • Your family doctor or intern
  • Clinical social worker
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • University- or medical school-affiliated programs
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family service/social agencies
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies

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 situation. Negative thinking fades as treatment begins to take effect. In the meantime:

  • Set realistic goals 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.
  • Let your family and friends help you.
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