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Depression Hotline

The World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people suffer from depression worldwide.1 In the United States alone, more than 16 million people (or 6.9% of the population over the age of 18) experienced a major depressive disorder according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.2,3

Depression is a debilitating mental health condition that can interfere with daily life.1 According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), people who experience depressed mood, a loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities, and certain other symptoms such as weight fluctuations or sleep changes within the same 2-week period might be experiencing a major depressive episode.4,5

Although there are effective treatments for depression, fewer than half of those affected globally receive such treatments.1 In some cases, those suffering from depression turn to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to feel better or to numb their feelings. It is estimated that approximately 10.2 million adults live with a co-occurring substance use and mental health disorder.3

This relationship between mental health and addiction is dangerous, particularly because substance abuse can worsen certain symptoms of depression. Left untreated, this combination of depression and substance abuse could also place you at a higher risk for self-harm, injury, and suicide—but help is out there. Many people gather more information about these conditions and begin searching for treatment by first calling a hotline.

Depression Hotline

Should I Call a Hotline?

Most people experience periods of sadness in their lives after major events, such as a job loss, 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 may be diagnosed when you experience 5 or more of the following symptoms within a 2-week period:5

  1. Depressed mood most of the day.
  2. Loss of interest in almost all activities.
  3. Significant changes in appetite and/or weight disturbances.
  4. Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness).
  5. Feelings of restlessness.
  6. Fatigue or loss of energy.
  7. Feeling worthless or guilty (sometimes for no reason).
  8. Trouble thinking or concentrating.
  9. Recurring thoughts of death or of committing suicide (without a specific plan). 

What Questions Should I Ask?

When calling a 24-hour depression hotline, it is important to share as much information as possible so that helpline staff can better gauge your situation to provide relevant treatment information. Before you call, you may want to write down questions you have which, depending on the helpline that is called, might include:

If you are concerned about a family member, significant other, friend, classmate, or colleague, it can take an emotional toll on you. When calling for someone other than yourself, some questions to consider asking include:

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:

Mental Health Information

If you are struggling with both depression and substance use, it can be very difficult to pick up the phone and ask for help. But because all calls are confidential, you can feel safe about being open and honest—the person you speak with has experience and training and understands what you need. For more information about general mental health issues, the below resources may be a good place to start:

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. For all other depression-related inquiries, the below sites offer a variety of services for those seeking help.

Sources