How can I help myself if I am depressed?

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad, but these feelings are usually short lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness.

If you have depression, you may feel exhausted, helpless, and hopeless. It may be extremely difficult to take any action to help yourself, but as you begin to recognize your depression and begin treatment, you will start to feel better.

TO HELP YOURSELF
- Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treatment. Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
- Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ball game, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities, and do what you can as you can do it.
- Try to spend time with other people, and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself. Let others help you.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly snap out of your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite with begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married, divorced, or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
- Continue to educate yourself about depression.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?
- Continuum EAP
- Mental health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or mental health counselors
- Family services, social agencies, or religious leaders
- Peer support groups
- You can also check the phone book under "mental health," "health," "social services," "hotlines," or "physicians" for phone numbers and addresses. An emergency room doctor also can provide temporary help, and can tell you where and how to get further help.

Adapted from information provided by the National Institute of Mental Health.

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