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Step 1 to Beating Depression: Talk About It

A Soldier talks while another listens in support

Army Photo/Public Release

In this Article:

  • Depression is more than just feeling bummed out.
  • Talking to someone you trust will help.
  • Prepare what you want to say about how you feel.

Being depressed is more than feeling bummed out for a couple days.

Depression is a clinical condition that can impact all aspects of your life. Depression can affect your family life, love life, work, school, and readiness.

Depression also is hard to talk about—particularly if you tell yourself you’ll lose tough-guy status if you admit to it. (Don’t worry. You won’t.)

Reaching out is a sign of strength that benefits you, your family, and your unit. A bit of prep work will make you a little more comfortable asking for help.

Know the symptoms of depression

If you are depressed, you may feel some or all these symptoms that last for more than a few weeks:

  • anger
  • poor concentration
  • trouble sleeping
  • boredom/loss of interest
  • changes in appetite or sex drive
  • social withdrawal

If you have thoughts that you might want to hurt yourself, end your life, or wish you were dead, it is time to reach out for help immediately. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 if you want to talk to the Military Crisis Line.

Preparing to tell someone

  • Start small. Identify one person who you will tell how you feel. Your best bet likely will be a close friend or family member who is a good listener, and who will support you. You may also consider your chaplain, medical provider, or human resources representative at work.
  • Decide who is trustworthy. Bottom line: you’re in control; you decide who you will tell. If you can’t talk to someone you know, you can contact the Military Crisis Line by calling 800-273-TALK (8255) and pressing 1, chatting online, or sending a text to 838255 for 24/7. It is available 24/7 and is free and confidential.
  • Make a plan. Decide how much you want to share and what you want your friend to do with the information. Do you want them to just listen? Do you want them to help you find counseling? Telling someone about your depression is not all-or-nothing. Share only what feels comfortable, but have a specific plan in mind.
  • Practice. Rehearse what you want to say. Find a private place where you can say out loud what you have in mind. Or write it down. Make sure the words convey what you’re feeling. Try to be as honest as you can.

What to expect when you talk?

When you start the conversation, expect:

  • People care about you. Even if your spouse, co-worker, parent, or friend has a hard time saying it, they do care about you. They want to see you feel better.
  • You won’t get a perfect response. People will react differently when you tell them you want to get help for depression. Some people won’t know what to say. Others will immediately want to help you however they can. Some may be surprised. Some may shy away from you, not knowing how to react. Try not to judge the reaction of the person you tell—judging won’t help.
  • There will be questions. The person you reach out to may not feel comfortable asking questions without you prompting them. Tell them it is okay to ask you questions. This helps you to be better understood and can minimize the guessing by this person.

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