Coping with depression isn’t easy. But if you or a family member or friend is struggling, there is help. NAMI and NAMI Affiliates are there to provide you with support for you and your family and information about community resources.

Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or if you have any questions about depression or finding support and resources.

Helping Yourself

Leading a balanced lifestyle can help you manage your depression. Here are some suggestions from real people who are living with depression.

Learn all you can. Learn about medications and treatment options. Attend local conferences on treating depression and network with other people at meetings and support groups. Build a personal library of useful websites and helpful books.

Recognize early symptoms. Identify the triggers, times of year, or other factors that may aggravate your depression symptoms, so you can identify an emerging episode and get the help you need as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask the people around you for help—they can help monitor your behavior.

Partner with your health care providers. Develop trust and communicate openly. Give your health care provider the information he or she needs to help you recover, including complete reports about your reactions to medications, your symptoms, or anything that could trigger your depression.

Know what to do in a crisis. Learn about your community’s crisis hotline or emergency walk-in centers. Know how to contact them, and keep the information handy.

Find emotional support from others living with depression. Share your thoughts, fears and questions with other people who have the same illness. Connect with others on online message boards or peer-support groups like NAMI Peer-to-Peer.

Avoid drugs and alcohol. These substances can disturb emotional balance and interact with medications. You may think using drugs or alcohol will help you “perk up,” but using them can block your recovery.

Get healthy. Eat well and exercise. To relieve stress, try low-key activities like meditation, yoga or Tai Chi.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need at the National NAMI website.

Helping a Family Member or Friend

Recognize early symptoms. You may be able to prevent a serious episode of the illness before it happens. Depression often has warning signs, such as a low mood, feeling fatigued or having trouble sleeping. Discuss your friend or family member’s past episodes with them, so they can clearly recognize the signs early.

Communicate. Speak honestly and kindly. Don’t chide people with depression for failing to be grateful or urge them to try harder to be happy. Instead, make specific offers of help and follow through. Tell the person you care about him or her. Ask how he or she feels.

React calmly and rationally. Even if your family member or friend is in a crisis, it’s important to remain calm. Listen to them and make them feel understood, then take the next step toward getting help.

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