Feeling Depressed or Anxious? 7 Ways to Ask for Help


Start with talking to the right person. (Photo: Courtesy of Zazzle)

Maybe you’ve googled ‘depression.’ Perhaps you took one of those internet quizzes about how to know if you’re depressed. You might check all the boxes and feel all the symptoms, but what’s the next step to actually feeling better? It might be time to ask for help.

Asking for help can be terrifying, because it means that your problem is real. You’ll have to admit that you’re going through a hard time. But you might be surprised to find that people…aren’t that surprised by your feelings. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are extremely common, and they can be helped.

Related: The Anxiety Files: A Look Inside Girls’ Real-Life Struggles—and How They Deal

Here are some of the people you might want to consider talking to, depending on your specific experience. Find the right person, start with “I’ve been feeling XYZ lately,” and let them help with the next steps.

Your favorite teacher
The faculty at your school are literally paid to care about the advancement of the students. A beloved teacher may notice if your mood is low, or if your grades are suffering, and will hopefully know enough about you to know something is wrong. If they don’t bring it up with you first, make an appointment to talk alone—other friends or classmates will just think you’re talking about schoolwork, so it doesn’t have to be obvious something else is on your mind.

Your coach
The person leading your sports team or after-school club likely has an even closer relationship with the real you, not the you with homework. Since they already know you in a setting outside the classroom, you might feel more comfortable opening up to them.

Your guidance counselor or school nurse
Again, it’s this person’s job to see to your well-being. Though just because being compassionate is part of their duties doesn’t mean you’ll automatically feel comfortable with them. It does mean, however, that they likely won’t bat an eye when you ask to speak to them privately. Either of these roles might have an easier time connecting you with a doctor or psychologist who can directly help you, and they can also help breaking the news to your parents.

A parent
Speaking of your parents, they can be the hardest people to talk to about this. Parents can sometimes feel hurt and angry that you’re having a tough time emotionally—it can make them feel like they failed, or like they’re not doing a good job. But if you have an awesome, open relationship with either parent, go ahead and answer truthfully when they ask how you’re doing lately. Or go ahead and bring it up on your own.

Related: How to Spot the Signs of Depression

Your best friend
She’s talked you through first dates, bad haircuts, and so many other of life’s horrors. It might feel like an overwhelmingly serious conversation, but you might be overwhelmed to learn she’s gone through some tough times of her own. Either way, she won’t laugh them off (hopefully), and maybe together the two of you can find a trusted adult who will get you to a doctor.

Your doctor
Hopefully, you already have a pediatrician or general practitioner whom you feel like you can speak to honestly. Your mental health can have a huge impact on your physical health, so your doctor might already make a point to ask you about your mood in your annual check-up. But you can take any opportunity or appointment to bring up your current struggle or symptoms. That doc can make a referral to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, and maybe even one specializing in teen mental health (or teen anxiety, or teen eating disorders, and so on).

A hotline
There are so many resources for young people who are suffering. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255), and the trained professionals on the line will help you get care in your own area. You don’t have to be seriously considering suicide to call them—they will listen to any problems and concerns, and help you find mental-health services nearby. Your call is confidential and free.

By Kaitlin Menza

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