If you're depressed and wondering where to get help, remember you don’t have to deal with depression on your own. This article includes tips to help you manage depression, information on accessing professional support, and contact details for organisations that specialise in helping people with depression. Finally, know where to seek help if you need it urgently.
This can help if:
- you’re wondering what support is available for people with depression
- you’re not sure where to find help
- you need urgent help.
What is depression?Depression is a low mood, or feelings of sadness, that last longer than two weeks and start to get in the way of your everyday life.
A diagnosis of depression, sometimes called ‘major depressive disorder’, may leave you feeling upset, uncertain or overwhelmed. It’s important to remember that there are a range of strategies, treatments and services you can use to help manage your mental health and wellbeing, and live a balanced life.
Tips to help you manage depression
You can try a variety of things on your own to manage depression. However, research shows that these tips are most helpful when combined with support from a medical professional.
Things you can do include:
- Talking to someone, such as a supportive friend, family member or mentor.
- Challenge your thoughts – just because we think something, it doesn’t mean it’s true, so it can help to learn how to challenge negative thinking.
- Practise relaxation – relaxation is great for reducing stress, so keep a list handy of things that help you to relax that you can refer to whenever you need to unwind.
- Take time to do things you enjoy – try to do something each day that you enjoy, or used to enjoy, no matter how simple it may seem.
- Look after yourself – the endorphins from physical activity can give you an immediate mood boost.
If your symptoms are still overwhelming despite doing what you can on your own, then it’s best to see your general practitioner (GP) or a mental health professional.
Accessing professional support
If your doctor diagnoses you with depression, it’s important to remember that there are effective treatments and services available to support you. The quicker you access the right professional help, the easier it will be to manage your symptoms. The thing is, it can be hard to know where to go or who to talk to.
This article walks you through a few different options so that you can think about what is right for you.
Find a GP or mental health professional
Mental health professionals include GPs, counsellors, psychologists and clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, youth workers and social workers.
Your local GP will help you to manage your symptoms of depression more easily, and will typically be the first point of contact when figuring out how to address your mental health concerns. They’ll work with you to understand what’s going on, and will refer you to other help if necessary.
Your GP might suggest a mental health-care plan, which is essentially just a document that spells out what you and your doctor have agreed is your goal in seeking support. A mental health- care plan guarantees you ten sessions with a mental health professional that will be covered by Medicare.
Psychologists and psychiatrists are two sources of further help that people with mental health concerns often seek out based on referrals from their GP. Psychiatrists are doctors who specialise in mental health, and are able to prescribe medication where necessary. Psychologists have specialised training in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental health disorders, but they aren’t medical professionals and don’t write prescriptions.
Head to beyondblue's directory of Mental Health Practitioners to search for a GP or mental health professional in your area.
Organisations specialising in depression
- Black Dog Institute: This research and treatment facility specialises in depression and bipolar disorder. Their website has information about depression, including self-tests and suggestions for what you can do right now.
- SANE Australia: This mental health charity provides information and resources for depression.
- beyondblue: Provides information on depression, including symptom checklists and details of depression support services.
- headspace: This Australia-wide government organisation is a source of information on depression. They provide free online and phone counselling, and also have treatment centres located all around Australia that you can visit.
Online depression support groups
- Mental Health Carers Australia: For friends and family members supporting people through depression and other mental health disorders.
Self-help strategies online
There are a lot of places online that can support you to use self-help strategies to manage symptoms of depression. Check out beacon.anu.edu.au to compare different programs to find one that’s right for you. Some suggestions are:
- MoodGYM: This online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program from the Australian National University is designed to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
- Helpguide.org: This international not-for-profit organisation provides tips for managing depression.
- Black Dog Institute: This facility has a guide to self-help strategies and alternative therapies.
- Just Ask Us: A government program that provides information and self-help material on mental health, and alcohol and drug dependence.
- myCompass: This interactive self-help service is from the Black Dog Institute. Their online tool helps you to track your moods and build resilience.
If you need help urgently
If you’re feeling suicidal, unsafe or extremely distressed and need to talk to someone right now, contact one of the following services, either by phone or online:
- eheadspace.org.au: headspace’s online chat counselling service. Available seven days a week, 9 am to 1 am, AEST.
- kidshelpline.com.au: Kids Helpline’s web-based and email counselling service. Available 24/7 for young people up to 25 years.
- lifeline.org.au: Lifeline’s online chat counselling service is available seven days a week, 7 pm – 4 am, AEST.
Visit our urgent help page for more info, including telephone counselling services and depression helplines.