The World Health Organization estimates that as many as 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide.1 In the United States alone, more than 15 million people (or 6.7% of the population over the age of 18) suffer from major depressive disorder.2
Many people who have depression turn to drugs and alcohol to make them feel better or to numb themselves from their feelings—estimates state that approximately 10.2 million adults live with a co-occurring mental health and addiction disorder.3 This relationship between mental health and addiction is dangerous, particularly because substance abuse can worsen depressive symptoms.
But there are many ways to find help, including calling a depression hotline for information about treatment centers and 12-step programs.
The connection between depression and substance abuse can place you at a higher risk for self-harm, injury, and suicide, so having a 24-hour depression hotline crucial for many people who are in crisis. You can be assured that all calls are private and confidential and that you will speak to a person with experience in helping people with similar issues.
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Depression is a significantly debilitating mental health condition that can prevent you from living life to your fullest potential because you feel hopeless, sad, and tired. Additionally:1
- Depression can lead to suicide.
- It is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
- Women are more likely to have depression than men.
There are effective ways to manage depression; calling a hotline can help you or a loved one begin your search for treatment.
What Questions Should I Ask?
When you call a 24-hour depression hotline, it is important that you share as much information as possible with the person on the other end of the line so they can better gauge your situation and provide relevant treatment information.
Before you call a depression helpline, you may want to write down questions you have, which might include:
- What forms of treatment are available?
- What happens when you go to treatment?
- What are the next steps in getting help?
- How can I find 12-step groups in my community?
- What programs are available for depression and substance abuse?
If you are concerned about a family member, significant other, friend, classmate, or colleague, it can take an emotional toll on you. When calling a depression helpline, you can ask:
- Where should I start if I think my loved one needs help?
- How do I talk to them about their depression?
- What resources are available for friends and family of depressed people?
When you call, you may be asked your first name as well as your age, which helps the counselors figure out what types of programs you are eligible for. You may also be asked any of the following questions when you call:
- Are you safe?
- How can I help?
- How are you feeling?
- What is going on?
- Are you in immediate danger?
- Who do you go to for support?
- Are you using any drugs or abusing alcohol?
Should I Call a Hotline?
Most people experience periods of sadness in their lives after major events, such as a job loss, a divorce, or the death of a loved one. However, clinical depression is different than regular sadness or a period of grief. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), depression is diagnosed when you have 5 or more of the following symptoms in a 2-week period:4
- Depressed mood most of the day
- Loss of interest in almost all activities
- Significant weight loss or decrease in appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness)
- Feelings of restlessness
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feeling worthless or guilty (sometimes for no reason)
- Trouble thinking or concentrating
- Recurring thoughts of death or of committing suicide (without a specific plan)
Mental Health Information
If you have depression and a substance abuse disorder, it can be very difficult to pick up the phone and ask for help. If you feel nervous and aren’t sure you can talk to someone on the phone, you can always try another time. Because all calls are confidential, you can feel safe about being open and honest—the person you speak to has experience and training and understands what you need.
If you want information about mental health in general, these resources can help:
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline, (800) 950-NAMI (6264); text NAMI to 741741: This helpline can answer questions about mental health, treatment, and local support groups. Staff members are available Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), (800) 662-HELP (4357): SAMHSA’s helpline offers 24/7 support in English and Spanish for treatment referral and support. You can call anytime you have questions about depression or substance use disorders.
- MentalHealth.gov: This website provides information about mental health disorders and available treatments.
- National Institute of Mental Health: This is a research-based resource that offers free mental health resources.
Other Depression Hotlines
For many people, depression is an extremely lonely experience. Calling a hotline gives you the opportunity to talk to a caring person who can help you work through whatever negative thoughts or feelings you have.
If this is an emergency and you need immediate assistance, please call 911.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273‑TALK (8255), Live Online Chat: This 24-hour suicide prevention helpline specializes in handling all situations related to suicide and emotional distress.
- Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990: If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or stress as the result of a disaster, call this number to speak to someone.
- National Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-422-4453: Depression often exists in situations where child abuse is present, and this 24/7 national hotline exists to prevent child abuse. You can reach professional crisis counselors at any time in more than 170 languages, using an interpreter.
- Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 1-800-656-4673: This free, confidential, and national sexual assault hotline is operated 24/7 by RAINN, which partners with local sexual assault service providers all over the U.S.
- The Trevor Project, (866) 488-7386: A 24-hour depression hotline for suicidal LGBTQ youth.
- Veterans Crisis Line, 1-800-273-8255, Text a message to 838255: Many vets struggle with depression and other debilitating mental health issues. Veterans and their families can call, text, or chat online 24/7 for support.
- Crisis Text Line, Text DBSA to 741741: This 24/7 crisis text line for anyone in crisis connects you with a trained counselor via text.
- National Hopeline Network, 1-800-442-4673: This 24-hour depression hotline is for people who are depressed and thinking about suicide. When you call, you will be connected with a crisis hotline volunteer.
- World Health Organization. (2017). Depression.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016). Facts & Statistics.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental Health By The Numbers.
- DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria. (2013). Major Depressive Disorder.