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Asking for help is not always easy, but it’s the first step towards feeling better. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers when you ask for help. You just need to know that something doesn’t seem right and you want to know what’s going on. Here are some important people you can talk to:
Parents, caregivers, or other people you trust
Talking with family or trusted friends can be very hard! However, other people can be a great source of support, and they may be able to offer help or guidance to reach out to other health professionals. When you’re ready to talk, think about what you want to say in advance or even write down a few notes, especially if you feel nervous about the conversation.
Your doctor is an important part of your recovery. Your doctor may be able to treat you on their own. If not, your doctor will help you see a mental health specialist like a psychiatrist. It’s important to see a doctor because some physical health problems may look like mental health problems, and your doctor will look at all possible causes.
A lot of people feel nervous when they talk with their doctor. You can find tips to help you prepare for your appointment and work with your doctor or any other mental health professional at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/working-with-your-doctor-for-depression.
If you’re in post-secondary education, many campuses offer counselling services, such as one-on-one sessions with a counsellor, support groups, and other services. If a mental illness like depression affects your ability to do well at school, you may be eligible for extra support.
If you’re working, some workplaces offer a service called an Employee (Family) Assistance Plan (EAP/EFAP). EAPs and EFAPs offer confidential counselling, and they can refer you to other resources in your community. Talk to your human resources contact to see if you have access to an EAP or EFAP, or talk to your parent or guardian to see if you’re eligible for counselling services under their workplace benefits.
These organizations can help you out at any time, day or night. They’re free, confidential, and anonymous.
BC Mental Health Support line at 310-6789 (no area code needed)
Crisis Line at 1-866-661-3311 (toll-free) or 604-872-3311 (in the Lower Mainland)
Depression is very treatable, and you should expect to feel better. Your exact treatment will depend on your unique situation and goals. Treatment usually includes some combination of the following:
Counselling or “talk therapy” can help you understand what you are experiencing. Many therapy approaches teach you skills to manage depression and feel well. A type of therapy called cognitive-behavioural therapy or CBT is a common and effective treatment for depression, and it may be just as helpful as medication for mild or moderate depression.
Medications, usually a group called antidepressants, may be prescribed if depression is more serious or isn’t improving with other treatments. There are many different kinds of antidepressants, and they act in different ways. It’s important to talk with your doctor about what to expect and follow their instructions as closely as possible. Be sure to tell your doctor about any herbal or alternative treatments you are using, too.
Support from others
Depression can make you feel like you’re all alone. Support groups are a great way to meet others and see what works for them. Ask your mental health care team if they can recommend a support group, or contact one of the organizations listed in the Learn More section. If you can’t find a support group in your community, you can also find support online.
Self-care at home
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like: little things you can do every day to take care of yourself. Self-care doesn’t have to be big or complicated to make a difference. In fact, you’ll get the most out of it if you try simple activities that you can do every day. We have some suggestions listed below. You can also talk to your doctor or any other mental health care professional for more ideas.
Try to get enough sleep every night. It’s hard to feel good when you’re tired! You can find tips to get a good night’s sleep at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-modules. If you often can’t sleep well, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Try to be active every day—especially if you don’t feel like it! Physical activity is very good for mental health problems like depression because it can boost your mood and help you cope with worry or stress. Even small changes, like going for a short walk every day, can make a big difference.
Try to eat well. When you don’t feel well or don’t have a lot of energy, it’s easy to reach for options that aren’t very healthy. Aim for good nutrition to keep you fueled throughout the day, and talk to your doctor or mental health care team if you have a hard time building a healthy relationship with food.
Try to find healthy ways to relax. You can try listening to music, watching a funny video, going for a walk outside, practicing your faith, or whatever helps you. There are even apps and websites to help you try relaxation skills like meditation and mindfulness, such as www.keltymentalhealth.ca/breathr and www.headspace.com. See www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-modules for tips on mindfulness and stress management.
Be mindful of alcohol or other drug use. Substances like alcohol and other drugs can make depression worse or harder to manage. If you’re having a hard time managing your alcohol or drug use, talk with your doctor or other mental health professional. You can find a workbook to help you think about your relationship with substances at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/you-and-substance-use.
HeretoHelp—visit www.heretohelp.bc.ca for information, screening self-tests and personal stories about anxiety. You’ll also find Managing a Mental Illness, a series that guides you from diagnosis to recovery, and Wellness Modules, which offer self-care tips and strategies. You’ll also learn about a HeretoHelp initiative called Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses, a growing community aimed at improving mental health on BC campuses. See www.healthycampuses.ca.
Mood Disorders Association of BC—visit www.mdabc.net or call 604-873-0103 (in the Lower Mainland) or 1-855-282-7979 (in the rest of BC) for resources and information on mood disorders. The Mood Disorders Association of BC offers a psychiatry clinic, therapy programs, support groups, and other wellness workshops and events.
Mindcheck—visit www.mindcheck.ca for information about mental health, resources, and support. You can take a quiz to check your mood, and their self-care resources include several apps and websites you can try on your own.
Canadian Mental Health Association—visit www.cmha.bc.ca or call 1-800-555-8222 (toll-free in BC) or your local CMHA branch for information and community resources on mental health or any mental illness. A free program called Bounce Back helps adults experiencing mild to moderate depression, stress, or anxiety, using self-help materials and coaching. See www.bouncebackbc.ca.
This brochure is part of a series on young adults and depression. To learn more about depression and what it might look like, see Learn about Depression: For Young Adults at www.heretohelp.bc.ca/for-young-adults.
About the author
The Canadian Mental Health Association promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing a mental illness through public education, community-based research, advocacy, and direct services. Visit www.cmha.bc.ca.