During May, mental health organizations and volunteers across the country are working together to provide support, educate the public and advocate for care. We can all play a role.
The awareness and prevalence of depression is growing across the country. But we are not alone. Experts agree that depression rates are increasing worldwide. Triggers include race, age, life changes, education and even geography. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 9 percent of adult Americans have feelings of hopelessness, despondency and/or guilt that generate a diagnosis of depression.
But there is good news. Over the past two decades, great strides have been made. People now understand that mental illness is not because of a personal failing or a self-created problem. If you have symptoms of depression, you are not alone and help is available. The earlier you start treatment, the more likely you are to get a handle on the condition. One of the best defenses against depression is knowledge and awareness.
If you or someone you love is currently struggling with depression, follow these tips to get the support you need to cope with the condition:
By developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms and learn to better care for your mental health.
Seek medical support
- If it’s an emergency in which you or someone you know is suicidal, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
- If you think your condition is mild to moderate and can wait a few days, make an appointment with your primary health care provider or your child’s pediatrician.
- If your symptoms are moderate to severe, make an appointment with a specialized doctor such as a psychiatrist. You may need to contact your community mental health center or primary health care provider for a referral.
- If you or your child is in school or at college, contact the school and ask about their available support services.
- Seek out support groups in your community and educate yourself about your symptoms and diagnosis. Social support and knowledge can be valuable tools for coping.
Take advantage of health insurance benefits
Many health insurance companies offer resources to individuals struggling with mental or emotional health conditions.
- Your employer may offer Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs) with mental health benefits. Contact your Human Resources department or call the number on the back of your insurance card for help finding counselors or other behavioral health care providers.
- Work with your insurance company to find support in-network. This will minimize your costs as your insurance company will have negotiated lower rates. It’s a good idea to minimize the financial burden of your care since that can add additional strain.
- Some insurance plans also offer online stress management tools and support, accessible after a provider referral. While not a replacement for traditional therapy, these self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy tools are available 24/7 to help patients focus on specific symptoms, set goals and learn coping techniques to manage mild depression, anxiety and stress. Call the number on the back of your insurance card for information.
Every year people overcome the challenges of mental illness and are able to do the things they enjoy. By developing and following a treatment plan, you can dramatically reduce many of your symptoms and learn to better care for your mental health.