First of all, know you’re not alone. There are multiple resources that can help if you’re in a headspace where you think you’re stuck and can’t get out of it.

You’re not alone.

If you need to talk to someone right away, help is available:

Was this helpful?

Depression is complex, and it can look different for everybody. Managing symptoms of depression and treating it is no different.

Some people prefer physical activity and creative stimulation to manage their symptoms, while others prefer to talk it out or journal. Others may find it difficult to seek help, and some may need medication to manage the chemical imbalances.

No matter the case, depression can be manageable if you have access to the right tools and information.

Here are some solutions for getting help with depression — including medication, therapy, support groups, and lifestyle changes — and a few helpful resources.

If you’re experiencing symptoms related to mild to moderate depression, you may benefit from certain types of therapy with a trusted, qualified therapist. Many mental health professionals will suggest trying therapy before medication.

However, if your depression is severe, they may advise using a combination of therapy and medication.

Talk therapy

Talk therapy involves discussing your concerns and how you feel with a trained therapist. This type of therapy may be helpful if you want to speak with someone who understands and can provide guidance in a safe space.

A therapist can help you identify patterns of thoughts or behaviors that contribute to your feelings and depression. Talk therapy may resolve temporary or mild depression, and it can help address severe depression but not without other treatments such as medication.

Cognitive therapy

If you recognize negative thought patterns and want to get out of the pattern, cognitive therapy may be a good choice. It aims to determine the negative thoughts and emotions that exacerbate depression.

This type of therapy can help you identify the unhelpful thought patterns and turn them into more productive ones. Usually, cognitive therapy is short term and lasts between 6 weeks and 4 months.

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy can help you identify and change potentially self-destructive or unhealthy behaviors. The idea behind it is that all behaviors are learned and unhealthy behaviors can be changed.

Behavioral therapy typically helps people engage in activities to enhance feelings of well-being.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT combines cognitive and behavioral therapy and is a type of psychotherapy that helps you change your thought patterns to improve moods and behaviors. If you’re having difficulty in these areas, CBT may be a good option.

Online therapy options

We rounded up some of the best online therapy options. Some of our top picks are:

  • Brightside Health, which has a Crisis Care platform designed for people with an elevated risk of self-harm. In addition to its newest service, Brightside Health offers therapy and psychiatry. Read our full review.
  • Calmerry, which is a great service for people new to therapy. It offers text-based therapy or live therapy. Text therapy may help ease your way into speaking with a professional face-to-face. Read our full review.
  • Talkspace, which is a great option because of its appointment flexibility. It offers therapy and psychiatry. Read our full review.
Was this helpful?

While chemical imbalances can contribute to depression, they’re only one aspect — depression is multifaceted. Depression medications are a common part of treatment, but they’re not always required.

Some people use medication for a short time to treat depression, while others use them long-term or not at all. There is absolutely no shame in taking medication for depression. Many people need the extra bit of help they provide.

A healthcare professional will consider multiple factors before prescribing any medication, including:

  • possible side effects
  • your current health concerns
  • possible drug interactions
  • cost
  • your specific symptoms

Medications that are commonly used to treat depression include the following:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

SSRIs typically have fewer side effects than other types of antidepressants. Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro) all fit into this category.

Depression is linked to low levels of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and other brain chemicals. SSRIs work by preventing your blood from absorbing some of the serotonin from your brain. This leaves a higher level of serotonin in the brain, and increased serotonin can help relieve depression.

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

SNRIs may help treat depression by keeping up the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine — chemical messengers that affect mood — in your brain. They do this by stopping serotonin and norepinephrine from going back into the cells that released them.

Tricyclic antidepressants

Tricyclic antidepressants allow more serotonin and norepinephrine to stay in your brain, helping elevate your mood. They can be very effective but cause more severe side effects. They’re often used if you haven’t had success with other medications. These include imipramine (Tofranil) and nortriptyline (Pamelor).

Getting a prescription

Mood stabilizers or anxiety medications are sometimes combined with antidepressant medication. If you’re meeting with a counselor or a therapist who is unable to prescribe medications, they can contact your primary care doctor and request the prescription for you.

Was this helpful?

If traditional medication isn’t right you, there are alternative and natural treatments that are often used for depression and can be quite helpful.

Keep in mind these treatments shouldn’t be used without consulting your healthcare professional first, especially if you’re taking prescription antidepressants or other medications.

Natural remedies

Whether you prefer natural products, find the side effects of other medications too harsh, or are simply looking for a new alternative to help with depression, natural remedies can be a great choice for many people.

It can be helpful to use complementary or natural treatments for depression alongside traditional ones. Remember to check in with your doctor before adding supplements or other complementary treatments to your routine.

Some natural remedies include St. John’s wort, relaxation techniques, and acupuncture.

Support groups

Sometimes, having others to lean on who are going through something similar can be a great support.

Organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness offer support groups, education, and other resources to help address depression and other mental health conditions.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and treating a variety of mental health conditions, including depression.

The association provides free in-person and virtual support groups in the United States and Canada, but it also has a thriving online anxiety and depression support group with more than 84,000 members.

Help is available

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, help is available any time of day by dialing 988 for the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or 911 for local emergency services.

Was this helpful?

Lifestyle changes

Certain lifestyle changes may also help you manage depression.

For example, if you drink alcohol or use substances, avoiding these may have a big impact on your symptoms. Some people may feel temporary relief from depression when consuming alcohol or substances, but once they wear off, symptoms can feel more severe. They can even make depression more difficult to treat.

On the other hand, eating nutritious meals and staying physically active can help you feel better all around. Exercising regularly can increase your endorphins and relieve depression. Getting enough sleep is also essential to both your physical and mental health.

The first step in getting treatment for depression is making an appointment with your primary care doctor or healthcare professional. They can recommend mental health professionals in your area.

Online therapy options are more popular than ever and can be a great choice as well, especially if you’re looking to save time and prefer to speak with someone from the comfort of your home. If budget is a concern, there are low cost and free online therapy options available, too.

If you’re religious, ask your religious leader if they can recommend mental health professionals. Some people prefer faith-based counseling, which incorporates their religion into a treatment plan.

You can also check healthcare databases for therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors. These databases can provide you with information such as certifications, accepted insurance providers, and user reviews. You can start with these databases:

Living with depression can be tough, and some days may be better than others. But sticking to your treatment plan is one of the most important things you can do. You may get discouraged in the first few weeks of treatment, but keep going. All types of treatment can take a few months before you notice a difference.

When you’re experiencing better days and moments, you might feel like you to want to stop treatment altogether. But avoid doing this without consulting your doctor first. They can help advise you on your next steps and how to proceed safely.

Talk with to your therapist about your feelings toward your therapy sessions and overall treatment plan. This allows them to work with you and make changes if you feel your treatment plan isn’t working. Remember, they’re there for you and can serve you best when you’re open and honest with them.

It’s important to feel comfortable talking with your therapist. If you don’t, try switching to a new one. It can be a long process to find the right fit, so try to be as patient as you can, and know that you may have to meet with several before you find the one that’s right for you.

Keep in mind that finding the right treatment is often a trial-and-error process. If one doesn’t work, it’s good to move on. If 2 or more months have gone by and you’ve stuck to a treatment plan but don’t feel any relief, it’s likely not working for you. You should experience relief from depression within 3 months of starting a medication.

Talk with your doctor immediately if your:

  • depression doesn’t improve after several months of treatment
  • symptoms have improved, but you still don’t feel like yourself
  • symptoms get worse

These are signs that your treatment plan isn’t working for you.

A chemical imbalance in the brain factors into depression, but the condition is brought on by more than this. There is plenty of nuance, complexity, and less-than-perfect data about depression, and research is inconclusive as to what exactly causes it.

There is no single biggest thing that causes depression, as the disease can occur for many reasons, with various triggers or no clear trigger at all. For example, it can be hereditary or caused by a stressful or upsetting event or combination of events (such as illness, bereavement, or financial issues, among others).

There are many symptoms of depression, but they are different for everyone. Symptoms may include:

  • consistent sadness or low mood
  • feelings of hopelessness, helpless, guilt, worry, irritability, intolerance, anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • lack of motivation or interest
  • indecisiveness
  • thoughts of harming oneself or committing suicide
  • speaking or moving slower than usual
  • appetite or weight fluctuations
  • unexplained pain
  • constipation
  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • lack of energy and libido
  • experiencing difficulty with family, home, and work
  • avoiding social situations and friends
  • neglecting interests and hobbies

The hardest type of depression is called major depression. People with major depression may regularly feel consumed by a dark mood and lose interest in activities. This type of depression is often treated with medication and psychotherapy.

There are various ways to help someone with depression. For example, start a conversation with them, let them know you’re there for them, and check in regularly.

You could help them find support and resources and offer to help them with simple, day-to-day tasks like chores or shopping. Become educated and informed about depression and what they’re experiencing, specifically, so you can best help them.

Depression is challenging. But there are many effective treatments available that can help you manage your depression symptoms.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your treatment plan may include a combination of medication, therapy, and complementary remedies. Make sure to talk with your doctor to figure out the best plan for you.