How to get help when you’re feeling down
You don’t have to suffer alone. Here are four resources you can lean on when you need it most.
It’s easy to think that depression and prolonged feelings of sadness or anxiety are a normal part of getting older. But according to the National Institute on Aging, they’re not. And if you’re struggling with your emotions, it’s important that you don’t just wait them out or push through as if they’re not there. That’s because prolonged depression and isolation may contribute to the development of physical health problems.
Simply asking for help — through a phone call, in-person, or a virtual chat with a professional — can be useful when you’re feeling down. Rely on these resources if you’re going through a difficult time.
Resource #1: A trusted friend
If there is someone in your life whom you trust, it may be helpful to talk to them about how you are feeling. The conversation can give you a chance to share what is going on in your life and how they might be able to help you.
Resource #2: Your community
Volunteering can help boost your mood. According to a 2020 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, just two hours of volunteer work per week may ease loneliness and symptoms of depression.
Unsure where to start? VolunteerMatch.org can connect you with organizations that need help. Just create an account and the site will offer a list of organizations to choose from based on your abilities. Currently, VolunteerMatch also allows for virtual serving opportunities.
The YMCA also offers opportunities to give back and support the community. Based on your interests, you can help teach a class, support a current program, or motivate youth to build character strengths and skills.
Resource #3: A professional
Many times, your feelings are trying to tell you something, says Carla DeFraine, Ph.D., a psychologist in Irvine, California. There may be underlying reasons why you feel sad, and there may be things in your life that need to change.
The best place to start is with your primary care provider (PCP). Your PCP can help you figure out what’s really going on and direct you to the best resources for your needs.
They may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist. This professional can help you explore the emotions you are having and give you the tools to cope with whatever life is throwing your way.
Resource #4: A professional help hotline
There are times where you need to speak to someone right away. And that’s where hotlines play a role. No matter what you are experiencing, there is someone at the other end who will listen.
If you are having an emotional crisis or thinking about suicide, or you suspect a loved one might be going through either, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY/TDD: 711). It’s open 24/7, so don’t hesitate to reach out – day or night.
Here are some additional resources to help with other problems you or a loved one may be facing. Each is confidential, and available 24/7.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: A free service available for individuals with substance abuse and/or mental disorders who seek counseling. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357), or use its tool online to find someone to talk to.
- Veterans Crisis Line: Veterans experiencing a crisis, or who are concerned about a loved one, can call or go online to chat with a professional. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: If you, or someone you care for, is the victim of sexual violence or assault, you can call or chat online with a trained staff member in your area. Call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Speak confidentially with a trained expert if you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic violence. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat online.
For any questions regarding mental health coverage, benefits, or providers, please call the Mental Health/Substance Abuse phone number on the back of your member ID card.