Getting help (formal and informal) when you are depressed can be the fastest route to full and enduring recovery. However, most people in the early stages of depression are reluctant to seek help. There are several reasons for this:
- Fear of the stigma and discrimination that can result from being diagnosed with a “mental illness”
- Believing that admitting to having depression means admitting to personal failure
- Concern about being forced to take “happy pills”
- Worry about how people around you will react
- Lack of awareness that your symptoms (e.g., fatigue and disrupted sleep) are an indication of depression
Letting these concerns stand in the way of asking for help often means having to put up with your symptoms for much longer than would otherwise be the case. In many cases, it can also result in your depression becoming so severe that you require long-term support and risk losing your employment, relationships and housing.
Although stigma and discrimination are very real, most people’s depression is a confidential matter between themselves and their doctor. You would only need to publicly disclose your depression if you needed sick leave or to claim benefits. Even then, you may be able to limit the number of people that you have to disclose your condition to. The other concerns that most people express are largely illusory. The modern approach to mild-moderate depression is much more likely to involve talking therapies, counselling and a range of early-interventions than antidepressants (which are reserved for those with more severe depression). Some 80-90% of people with depression are treated entirely in primary care, and never need to see a psychiatrist or other mental health specialist.
Nor is support solely about medical treatment. If you have a supportive network of family and friends around you, recovery will be much quicker than if you try to struggle on your own. You can also learn a great deal from other people who have experience of managing and recovering from depression. Participating in our discussion forums, attending a self-help group or participating in a training course will help you develop coping strategies and avoid the pitfalls of managing depression.