When to Get Help for Depression

By: Stuart Porter, NP


Depression is a mental illness that may be hard to recognize in yourself. While experiencing certain symptoms may be normal, it is important to know when these symptoms may be caused by something bigger.  

Symptoms of Depression 

Just like any illness, depression has symptoms. Some of these symptoms may be physical while other symptoms are behavioral.  

  • Fatigue 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Sleeping too much 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Difficulty focusing 
  • Sadness or depressed mood 
  • Irritability 
  • Intense emotions 
  • Mood swings 
  • Loss of interest 
  • Feeling hopeless 
  • Thoughts of suicide or self-harm 

Doctors look for at least five of these symptoms in order to diagnose depression.  

When to Ask for Help With Depression  

If you have been experiencing these symptoms for a few weeks, it is best to reach out right away.  

Who to Talk to 

Knowing who to talk to is a key step in reaching out. Many people opt to tell their family about it first, since they may know how to help. If you’re not in contact with your family, you can try talking to friends instead. 

If depression is making school hard, you may want to tell a teacher or counselor that you are struggling and you need some extra help. Counselors are more equipped to help and may be willing to tell your teachers for you. 

In many situations, you may want to speak with a mental health professional. There are many forms of therapy that might help. If therapy doesn’t work for you, there are also mental health professionals that can prescribe medications or other treatment options. 

How to Talk About it 

Confessing to someone that you have been struggling is a scary thing to do, but it is very important that you do so before things get worse. 

People may not understand what you’re going through, so it is important that you’re prepared to answer any questions as well as be open about what you’re feeling. 

The first step in talking about your depression is to explain what you are (or are not) feeling. When telling someone about depression, be sure to explain how depression isn’t just feeling sad, and how there are many other symptoms that go along with it. 

Be prepared with research to explain depression. Many people don’t understand mental illnesses or see them as an illness. For some people, hearing research about how depression is a real illness or how many people depression affects could be a key step in helping them understand what you’re going through. 

When talking about depression, comparing it to something they can relate to may help them understand better. Some people opt to show illustrations or comics, while other people make comparisons to other things such as a cold. 

The question most people will ask when learning about a struggle is “how can I help?”. Be ready with some answers such as asking them to be patient with you or asking for a little extra help on some days. 

A great way to help them understand what you’re going through is asking them to go to therapy with you for a day. Seeing that you are talking to a mental health professional, and seeing that professional themselves, may help them better grasp onto what depression is. 

Depression Treatment Options 

There are many ways for depression to be treated. Some of the most common treatments include therapy, medication, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 


Here are some of the common therapies used to treat depression. 

  • Psychodynamic therapy – In psychodynamic therapy, it is believed that the depression is caused by an unresolved conflict, such as childhood trauma. The main goals are to become fully aware of all emotions. 
  • Interpersonal therapy – This therapy focuses on one or two problems in life at a time, as well as focuses on interpersonal relationships and social roles. 
  • Cognitive therapy – This type of therapy focuses on turning negative thought patterns into positive ones. 
  • Behavioral therapy – The way this therapy works is by changing undesired behaviors and instead reinforcing positive ones. 
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – CBT is a therapy that combines cognitive and behavioral therapy. 
  • Dialectal behavior therapy – DBT is a branch of CBT. In DBT, the goals are to regulate emotions, cope with stress, and improve relationships.  

These therapies can take form in either individual, family, group, or couples therapy. 


If therapy doesn’t work by itself, it may be time to try medication. To get on medication, see a psychiatrist and they will prescribe the medication they find best fits your needs. 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) 

This form of treatment is a drug-free treatment that works well on treatment-resistant depression. It works best when combined with ketamine treatment. However, that is not required. 

TMS is a non-invasive treatment where a helmet sends painless magnetic pulses through the brain to reduce symptoms of depression. The magnetic pulses stimulate nerve cells that involve mood control. This treatment is generally five days a week for four to six weeks. 

If you believe you are experiencing depression, contact us at Serenity Mental Health Centers to develop a treatment plan that works for you. 

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*All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.