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

  • Set realistic goals in light of the depression 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, such as to 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.
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  • 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.

Getting Help For Depression

If unsure where to go for help, check the Yellow Pages under "mental health," "health," "social services," "suicide prevention," "crisis intervention services," "hotlines," "hospitals," or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses. In times of crisis, the emergency room doctor at a hospital may be able to provide temporary help for an emotional problem, and 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.

  • Family doctors
  • Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
  • Health maintenance organizations (HMO)
  • Community mental health centers
  • Hospital psychiatry departments and outpatient clinics
  • University- or medical school-affiliated programs
  • State hospital outpatient clinics
  • Family service, social agencies, or clergy
  • Private clinics and facilities
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Local medical and/or psychiatric societies

If you are looking for a support group in your local community, try contacting the United Way, your county hospital, or county mental health agency. In many Sunday newspapers, in the metro or lifestyle sections, you'll find a list of support group meetings along with contact information.

Feeling Suicidal? Now What?

The National Hopeline Network 1-800-SUICIDE provides access to trained telephone counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Wanting to harm yourself or having lots of suicidal thoughts is more common than most people think. That is what depression does to you. If you are feeling suicidal, like you want to kill yourself, it's important to remember there is help available.

Here are some other ways to help yourself if you're feeling suicidal:

  • Tell your therapist, a friend, a family member, or someone else who can help.
  • Distance yourself from any means of suicide. If you are thinking of taking an overdose, give your medicines to someone who can give them to you one day at a time. Remove any dangerous objects or weapons from your home.
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs of abuse.
  • Avoid doing things you're likely to fail at or find difficult until you're feeling better. Know what your present limits are and don't try to go beyond them until you feel better. Set realistic goals for yourself and work at them slowly, one step at a time.
  • Make a written schedule for yourself every day and stick to it no matter what. Set priorities for the things that need to be done first. Cross things out on your schedule as you finish them. A written schedule gives you a sense of predictability and control. Crossing out tasks as you complete them gives a feeling of accomplishment.
  • In your daily schedule, don't forget to schedule at least two 30-minute periods for activities which in the past have given you some pleasure such as: listening to music, playing a musical instrument, meditating doing relaxation exercises, doing needlework, reading a book or magazine, taking a warm bath, sewing, writing, shopping, playing games, watching your favorite DVD or video, gardening, playing with your pet, participating in a hobby, taking a drive or a walk.
  • Take care of your physical health. Eat a well-balanced diet. Don't skip meals. Get as much sleep as you need, and go out for one or two 30-minute walks each day.
  • Make sure you spend at least 30-minutes a day in the sun. Bright light is good for everyone with depression, not just people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • You may not feel very social but make yourself talk to other people. Whether you talk about your feelings or about any other topic, reducing your social isolation is likely to be helpful.

Remember that while it may feel as if it will never end, depression is not a permanent condition.

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Helping Someone Who May Be Suicidal

If someone you know tells you that they are thinking about harming themselves, take it seriously.

  • Don't laugh or tell them to shut up, stop acting stupid, or snap out of it.
  • Let them talk about the problem, and try not to judge them.
  • Be kind, stay calm and get them medical attention as soon as you can.
  • Sometimes, offering to go with them to a doctor's appointment will help them pluck up the courage to do so.

It might be a false alarm, but it's better to be on the safe side.

All content in this article "Depression Guide" provided by Reviewed by Dr. Harry Croft, MD, medical director of All content in this article is copyrighted and owned by