Everybody feels blue sometimes—it’s part of being human. But if you’re feeling depressed for more than a couple of weeks, that’s when it’s time to get some help. Traditionally, stigma has kept too many people from talking about their mental health and depression, but it’s 2022—there’s no shame in seeking help. Quite the opposite, actually. “Asking for help when you are feeling depressed is one of the bravest things you can do for yourself,” says Nicholette Leanza, LPCC-S, a counselor with LifeStance Health. Ahead, the simple guide to asking for help when you feel depressed.
When does “feeling blue” slip into depression?
“Everyone feels blue from time to time,” Leanza says, “but when it slides into extended feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness, then it may be depression.” Depression looks different in every person; for some people, it might involve feeling sad and crying. For others, it could manifest as being fatigued, having difficulty concentrating, or feeling irritable. With serious depression, people may feel that they no longer want to live.
Whatever symptoms you may be experiencing, Leanza encourages you to talk about them with friends, family, and/or a professional. “If you have had these types of feelings for more than two weeks, reach out for help. You don’t have to suffer alone,” she says. To find local mental health professionals, you can use directories on Psychology Today or Psychcentral; online therapy is another way to go. But, Leanza says, if you’re having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself, reach out for help immediately. The new 988 Lifeline, accessible via voice or text, will connect you to a trained counselor who can help during a crisis.
What can you say if you’re feeling depressed?
Before asking for help, consider who you ask for help. Realistically, some people are better equipped to support you than others, so consider people who’ve shown up for you in the past. Consider people such as friends, family, and spiritual leaders—but remember, a mental health professional will be a reliable source of support.
There’s no right or wrong way to talk about feeling blue, but these phrases might help open a conversation:
- “I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. Could we talk about it?”
- “I’ve been feeling really down lately and I don’t know what to do. Can you help me find some help?”
- “I’m having a hard time leaving my apartment. Can we get some regular coffee dates on the calendar so I know I’ll get out?”
Don’t worry about saying things “perfectly.” Just focus on sharing your perspective and asking for support. By the way, if you’re in therapy and it isn’t helping, don’t stop going to your appointments. Instead, says Leanza, speak up. “I would recommend having a conversation with your professional to let them know your frustration, with the hope they shift gears and use different techniques that may be more helpful to you,” she says. “If you still feel like it’s not helping, then consider interviewing other mental health professionals to see if you can find a better fit for you and your needs.” As with all things mental health, the most important thing is to keep the conversation going.