Help for Depression?

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If you're suffering from depression or having thoughts of suicide, you may be wondering where you can find help for your symptoms. The good news is that you have several options for getting help with your depression.

If You're Suicidal or Want to Hurt Yourself

If you are currently feeling as if you might hurt yourself, you can get help right now through one of the following avenues:

  • A Local Suicide Hotline: To find a number for a suicide hotline, you can look in your local phone directory (they are usually listed near the front of the book) or call directory information (dial 411 in the U.S.) and ask if there is a listing for "suicide prevention", "crisis intervention" or a county mental health center.
  • A National Suicide Hotline: If you are unable to find a local hotline - or the thought of searching for one feels overwhelming to you - you can also make a toll-free call to 1-800-784-2433 or 1-800-273-8255, from anywhere in the U.S., to speak with a crisis counselor.
  • Email Crisis Support: If you'd like to speak with someone via email, The Samaritans is a charity organization which provides free email support. Help is also available by phone for those who live in the U.K.
  • Your Local Emergency Room: If you feel like you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself, don't hesitate to call 911 or visit your local emergency room for help. Hospitalization can help keep you safe until the crisis has passed.

If You're Depressed and Not in Immediate Danger

If you are not in immediate danger of harming yourself, there are several different professionals with whom you can make an appointment to get help for your depression:

  • Your Family Doctor: Your personal family physician is a good place to start when you need help. It is always a good idea to rule out any other possible causes for your depression, such as an illness or medication side effect. And, if your physician does find that you are suffering from clinical depression, she will be able to prescribe medication for you. Depending on your situation and the requirements of your insurance provider, however, she may also opt to refer you to a psychiatrist and/or therapist for treatment.
  • A Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating mental disorders, so he will have more specialized experience in treating depression than a general practitioner will. Seeing a psychiatrist can be useful if your case is more complicated or your family doctor does not have much experience with treating depression. In addition to being able to prescribe depression medications, psychiatrists are also qualified to perform psychotherapy, although many prefer to leave this aspect of treatment to other mental health professionals so that they can concentrate on the medical aspects of treatment.
  • A Therapist: A therapist assists you in getting a long-term handle on your problems through the process of psychotherapy. Any properly certified and licensed mental health professional who has been trained in the principles of psychotherapy - such as a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a social worker or a psychiatric nurse - can be a psychotherapist. However, she may or may not also be able to prescribe medications, depending on her training and the laws of the state in which she practices.
  • A Counselor: A counselor may be a good option for you if you are suffering from situational depression. Although counseling is somewhat similar to therapy, its short-term focus on solving immediate problems makes it more appropriate for cases where the patient's depression is related to stressful situations in his life.

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