Why is it Hard to Ask for Help When I’m Depressed?

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Depression impacts many more people than you may think. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people suffer from depression globally, about 4% of the world population. Given that the world population is not regularly screened for depression, the rates are probably even higher. In the U.S. about 6.7% of the population experiences at least one depressive episode each year. You are not alone if you are feeling depressed. Depression can be mild, moderate, or severe. Someone with a mild depressive episode can experience loss of interest or pleasure in their normal activities, low-mood, irritability, changes in sleep and appetite, reduced energy, low esteem, or problems with concentration (not necessarily all, but a mix of some of these symptoms) for at least two weeks. These challenges lead to personal distress, or difficulty in managing work, social, home or other domains in life.

Many of the barriers to seeking help include logistics, cost, and time. We covered these two obstacles in our previous post, Affordable Help for Depression in Portland. In this article, we want to cover other factors that may prevent you from seeking help and remind you that these concerns are natural and common.

“I feel I can handle it on my own.”

And to be fair, you totally may be able to endure. Plenty of people live with ongoing depression, gritting their teeth and bearing it. Getting help or therapy isn’t about being less than or make you weak. In fact, when it feels hard to ask for help, asking for help is a sign of courage and strength. Therapy is about developing insight, learning new skills to cope, and lightening your load in the meantime, so that you can handle it yourself later on.

Sometimes we don’t ask for help because there is a social stigma that we should be able to “handle it” ourselves. Terms like “pull yourself together” or “snap out of it” label depression as trivial or inconsequential. The fact is, it’s a very real condition and is no less significant than a broken bone or a severe illness. We wouldn’t encourage someone with a broken arm to just pull themselves together, nor should you have to treat a mental health disorder on your own. Typically, when we try to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, we face plant right into the dirt.

We may also feel that including someone else in our feelings of depression burdens them. And sometimes this may be true, other times it can be an unhelpful assumption the mind is making. In most cases, your close friends and family want to help, and want to share your burden. In fact, research shows that when we help others, we feel good about ourselves. That being said, everybody has their own capacity for emotional labor. If you’re worried about taxing somebody beyond their ability to cope, it may be helpful to ask “Hey, are you in a space to help me process? I have a lot going on and don’t want to burden you.” This eliminates the assumption and allows your friends and family to speak for themselves on what they can and are willing to handle. A professional counselor is willing to help, and is trained to deal in processing difficult emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.

“I’m embarrassed about my depression.”

That’s totally normal. In fact, feelings of embarrassment, worthlessness, shame or excessive guilt are a symptom of depression. It’s ok to feel embarrassed, worthless, or guilty. Often when we experience such feelings, we tend to try to hide them from others, which paradoxically intensifies them. Communicating and sharing these feelings with others who are understanding often alleviates them. If nothing else, a therapist is sworn to confidentiality so your secret will be safe.

Asking for help may feel like a weakness and for some it may feel as if they have failed. We may also be concerned about how others will react. These are natural hesitations because they are unknowns. We may be concerned about what others think and how it reflects on us. If you choose to ask for help when it feels scary, that act of reaching out is a demonstration of strength and courage. Feeling or experiencing failure is not the end, it is a stern teacher on the path towards growth and success.

Why get help for depression?

Because, if treated, you will feel better, you won’t have to work as hard, and can find a place in which you’re thriving. Living with depression sucks. Ongoing depression is associated with developing physical health issues, decreased functioning, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality rates. Reaching out for help—either by getting professional support or reaching out to someone you trust—is an important step to overcoming the feelings of depression.

Do I need insurance to see a therapist?

No. In fact, at Mindful Healing Portland, LLC, we accept clients on a sliding scale. We are currently accepting clients for our sliding scale rates.


If you live in Portland or the Portland area and want information or help with Depression,