You may be depressed! What do you do now?

By: Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.


When you are depressed it is often very hard to think clearly or make any decisions. It is also hard to think of anything to do to help yourself feel better. This brochure will help you take positive action in your own behalf.

Keep in Mind

1. Depression is not your fault.
2. Depression is a temporary condition.
3. You will get well. You will feel happy again.
4. The best time to address depression is now, before it gets any worse.

See Your Doctor

Depression is serious. You need to see a general physician as soon as possible-- don't wait longer than a few days. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will feel better. You need an appointment with your physician for a complete physical examination to see if there is a medical condition that is causing or worsening your depression, to plan your treatment and for possible referral to a specialist. If you do not have a physician, contact a mental health organization in your area for a recommendation.

If any of the following apply to you, insist on an appointment within 24 hours or ask a friend or family member to do it for you (it's hard to do things for yourself when you are depressed).

1. You feel absolutely hopeless and/or worthless.
2. You feel like life is not worth living anymore.
3. You think a lot about dying.
4. You have thoughts of suicide.
5. You have been making plans to end your life.

Ask a family member or friend to stay with you until it is time for your appointment. Make sure you keep the appointment.


When you see your doctor, take a complete listing of all medications and health care preparations you are using for any reason, and any unusual, uncomfortable or painful symptoms.

Self Help Techniques You Can Use to Help Yourself Feel Better

1. Tell a good friend or family member how you feel-ask them if they have some time to listen to you. Tell them not to interrupt with any advice, criticism or judgments. Assure them that you can discuss what to do about the situation after you get done talking, but that just talking with no interruptions will help you feel better.

Your friends and family members may not know what to say. You can tell them to say any of the following:

- I'm sorry you are having such a hard time."
- "What can I do to help?"
- "Tell me how you feel."
- "I'm here to listen."
- "I love you."
- "You are very special to me. I want you to get well."
- "You will feel better. You will get well."

2. Get some exercise. Any movement, even slow movement will help you feel better-- climb the stairs, take a walk, sweep the floor.

3. Spend at least one half hour outdoors every day, even if it is cloudy or rainy.

4. Let as much light into your home or work place as possible--roll up the shades, turn on the lights.

5. Eat healthy food. Avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol and heavily salted foods. If you don't feel like cooking, ask a family member or friend to cook for you, order take out, or buy a healthy frozen dinner.

6. If you are having lots of negative thoughts or obsessing about difficult issues and hard times, divert your attention away from these thoughts by doing something you really enjoy, something that makes you feel good--like working in your garden, watching a funny video, working on a craft project, playing with a small child or your pet, buying yourself a treat like a new CD or a magazine, reading a good book or watching a ball game.