Depression: Help for the Helper
Exactly where does a person turn if they need outside help or advice about depression? The most obvious person to contact is your family doctor and this is for a variety of reasons. First the doctor will have a record of your loved-one’s medical history. They may already know things you may be unaware of and they have the resources to test for conditions that mimic the symptoms of depression, so these can be treated or ruled out. The family doctor will also be aware of other resources in the area – counseling or psychological services for example – and they may be happy to refer you or your loved one to them.
Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s (CABs) are a network of charitable organizations that offer free, impartial and confidential advice on a range of subjects, but not medical. CAB’s are well established in a variety of countries but less so in the U.S.A., so you'll need to check. However, local charitable organizations may offer similar services in terms of free advice about legal matters, employment law, debt and so on. If you don’t have a CAB in your area you’ll probably find something similar. This can help enormously with some of the practical issues that might be concerning you.
Helplines are useful if you want instant support and advice. The known and established helplines are free but don’t assume this is always the case, so check before you use one. Some helplines focus on very specific issues, for example domestic violence, parental crises or suicide prevention. Others are more general in nature. The NDMA telephone hotline for depression is 800-826-3632. A quick internet search using keywords like ‘helplines’ will turn up many others.
Whether or not you are religious you may find comfort and a high degree of practical support from your local church. It’s easy to find local places of worship in the local newspaper or online.
People with experience of depression, either directly or in support capacities, often establish local support groups. Years ago such groups relied on word of mouth or notices pinned to boards in local libraries or medical centers. Usefully, this still happens but the internet generally and social networking sites specifically have made it so much easier for support groups to get the word out.
Last, but by no means least, there are websites like this. Information regarding anything from diagnosis, to treatment and support is available, plus of course there is the facility to ask your own questions.