top of page
  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

Asking for Help When You're Depressed

Depression is no joke, and it feels absolutely awful, doesn't it ?

The sadness you feel when you are depressed is deeper, more consuming than just "feeling sad." And it can get worse, much worse, if you don't get help.

I want to offer you a few different ways you can ask for help when you think you're suffering from depression. Remember, treatment is available, it works, and you don't have to live the rest of your life feeling the way you do now.

Tips to Ask for Help When You're Depressed

Depending on how severe your depression is, there are several ways to get help. Some options are more medically-based, while others play a more supportive role. For this article, let's start with the simplest forms of help that are the most accessible. Then, we'll work our way up to professional support.

Talk to Friends or Family

One of the biggest problems with depression is that you tend to isolate yourself and suffer alone. The metaphorical walls close in on you, and you feel yourself becoming lonely, separated, and cut off from anyone that might understand or help you. This, in turn, leaves you feeling like no one understands, no one cares, and isolated.

It's one of the worst things you could do to yourself....

To combat this, you want to reach out to friends and family. Don't isolate yourself from the world. Push yourself to talk to a trusted friend about how you're feeling, or share with a sibling, uncle, aunt, parent, etc., that you've been feeling down and blue.

Talking with a supportive person can be very cathartic, healing, and relieving. Sharing your pain, putting it into words, and knowing that someone who loves you is listening, can lesson the sting of the depression. It makes you feel less alone, less isolated, and gives you back a glimmer of hope.

It's a simple act, but it's a powerful one. And, it is often one of the most accessible, first steps you can take to ask for help.

Call a Warm Line or a Hotline

Now, what if you don't have family or friends that you trust enough to share your pain with? Your next option could be contacting a "Warm Line" or a Hotline.

You've probably heard of a "Hotline" before, right? Let me introduce you to a Warm Line. A Warm Line is a telephone service staffed by peers. This means it is staffed by people who are recovering from their own mental health problems, and are volunteering their time to be a support person to someone else in need.

Many Hotlines are also staffed by volunteers, so what's the difference between a Hotline number and a Warm Line?

A Hotline is intended for individuals who are in a crisis. This might be that you're having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself or someone else. Hotline volunteers typically have undergone specialized training to manage a crisis over the phone.

A Warm Line is intended for individuals who are NOT in crisis, and they just need someone to listen to them. These volunteers oftentimes receive training too, but not necessarily for managing a crisis.

So, if you're not ready for professional help, but feel like you have no one you can talk to, then consider giving a Warm Line a try. You can download a list of Warm Line numbers, complied by NAMI, in our Resource Library. And, if you are in crisis, you can try calling a Hotline number too. You can jump to the end of this post for a list of Hotline numbers you can call.

Join a Support Group

Let's say you've tried talking to some friends and you reached out to a Warm Line, but you still feel like you need more support. Next on the list would be a Support Group.

There are so many options for support groups nowadays. You can join them online or attend one in-person, and they have support groups for so many types of problems and concerns.

From drug and alcohol support, to depression and anxiety help, to bipolar disorder, and even support for new parents. You can find a support group for just about anything! You just need to know where to look. But, before we talk about that, let's briefly discuss what a support group is and what it isn't.

Many people confuse a Support Group with Group Therapy, but they are not the same thing. Group Therapy (sometimes referred to as a Process Group) is facilitated by a mental health professional. The professional provides therapy interventions in a group setting.

A Support Group, however, may or may not be run by a mental health professional, and the person running the group is usually volunteering their time. Frequently, they have some training on how to facilitate the support group and have some knowledge or experience on the subject the group is about.

Support Groups are usually "open," meaning you can come and go as you please, and other people can join or leave the group at any time. People are there to support one another through the problem and are welcome to stay even after the problem has ameliorated.

Many Support Groups are hosted by the city or local churches in your community. You do not have to live in the city in order to make use of the support groups they host. Similarly, you don't have to be a member of the church that is hosting the support group you are interested in. So, don't let that stop you from taking advantage of this type of help.

Support Groups are an excellent form of long-term care, especially if you are stable with your symptoms and just need something to give you a little extra help when things get hard.

I refer many of my clients to support groups, even if they are actively receiving therapy from me. Support Groups help to increase your natural support network, which is an incredibly important part to long-term success in recovery from depression.

Join Group Therapy

As we continue along the continuum of care, our next stop is to talk about Group Therapy. We've already started talking about this, but let's dive a little deeper.

As I mentioned earlier, group therapy is a type of professional service. It should be facilitated by a mental health professional (typically a therapist). Normally, everyone who is in the group has a similar problem at hand. The group might be for depression, anxiety, for new moms, or for teens who self-harm, etc.

Therapy groups can be either "closed" or "open." A closed group runs for a limited number of sessions (such 8 or 10), and participants who join the group are expected to remain in the group for the designated length of the group. People are not allowed to join once the group has started.

An "open" group is typically "on-going." It's hosted at the same day and time each week, and people can join the group at any time, or "graduate" from the group at any time. All of this, however, is controlled by the therapist facilitating the group. The therapist determines if an individual is a good fit for the group in question, and determines if an individual is ready to graduate from the group as well. As such, the make-up of the group changes over time with the main constant always being the therapist and the theme of the group.

Many people shy away from trying group therapy, but I think this is a BIG mistake. Group Therapy can be an AMAZING and powerful form of treatment, especially when facilitated by an experienced therapist. Some of my best therapeutic outcomes came from hosting group therapy.

Don't be nervous about accessing therapy this way. It can be an awesome experience that changes your life. Don't knock it until you try it! And, if for some reason you give group therapy a try and it wasn't a good experience, I highly recommend you just try another group with a different facilitator. Just like in individual therapy, the therapist can make a huge difference on how effective the group therapy experience is. So don't give up on this option because you had 1 bad group experience.

Try Individual Therapy

Next up on the list is to try 1-on-1 therapy. Psychotherapy can be one of the best experiences of your life. Seriously! When you find a therapist that is a great match for you and specializes in the problems you're suffering from, the experience is priceless!

Don't believe me? Ask any person who has had a positive therapy experience!

Psychotherapy is a tried-and-true method for tackling mental health disorders. Research shows that the results of therapy are just as effective as medication treatment. And, when you combine therapy with medication in a dual treatment approach, research shows the results are wonderful, with good short-term AND long-term success.

But, not all therapist are the same, and not all of us specialize in the same problems. Today, you have the option of seeing many different types of therapists with different types of training. Some of your options include:

> Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT or MFT)

> Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)

> Psychologist (PhD or PsyD)

> Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

All of these individuals can provide psychotherapy services. The difference between each one has to do with their degree and clinical training, and that's an entire article all on its own.

I wouldn't worry too much on which one of these licenses is the best match for you at this time. Your biggest focus should be to find a therapist that specializes in treating depression or mood disorders. Some of us are great at treating trauma or anxiety, but not very good at treating depression.

When you're suffering from depression, you want someone who is an expert at treating depression. Try searching a mental health directory, such as Psychology Today or Therapy Den to find a therapist that specializes in treating depression.

Consult a Psychiatrist

Another option for getting help is to seek a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that has specialized in mental health. Just like you visit a cardiologist for a heart-related problem or a dermatologist for a skin-related concern, you'll want to meet with a psychiatrist for a mental health-related issue.

Medication for depression has evolved significantly over time, and there are many options available to you if this is an option you want to try. Medication support is an effective form of treatment, and when combined with psychotherapy, your chances of a successful outcome increase.

If you want to try medication support, start by having a discussion with your primary care physician (PCP). Your PCP will be able to guide you on next steps on how to gain a referral for psychiatric services. Or, if you would rather see a psychiatrist outside of your insurance, you can use directories, such Psychology Today, to find psychiatrists near you.

Your Next Steps...

It's time to make a move and take your next step. Depression is incredibly treatable, and there is no need for you to do it alone. I hope this article helped guide you on the various ways you can ask for help and encouraged you to take that first step.

If you're ready to finally feel better from your depression and are ready to climb out of the darkness you've been suffocating in, then your next step is to call my office. With over a decade of experience and specialized training in depression, I'm ready to help you just like I've helped 1000s of others. Begin your journey toward emotional wellness by calling me now.

Or, if you're not ready to begin therapy, reach out to a friend, join a support group, or call a Warm Line. There are so many ways to access support, and any of these steps will help you. Pick one, take the step, and take back control of your life.


Mental Health Crisis Hotline Numbers

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Call 800-273-TALK (8255)

If you or someone you know is in crisis—whether they are considering suicide or not—please call the toll-free Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a trained crisis counselor 24/7. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline connects you with a crisis center in the Lifeline network closest to your location. Your call is confidential and free.

Crisis Text Line – Text NAMI to 741-741

Connect with a trained crisis counselor to receive free, 24/7 crisis support via text message.

National Domestic Violence Hotline – Call 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Trained expert advocates are available 24/7 to provide confidential support to anyone experiencing domestic violence or seeking resources and information. Help is available in Spanish and other languages.

National Sexual Assault Hotline – Call 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Connect with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area that offers access to a range of free services. Crisis chat support is available at Online Hotline. Free help, 24/7.


bires christmas dinner b&W.jpg


Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

bottom of page