Depression: Why We Find It Hard To Ask For Help

When we have depression, it can be hard to ask for help. Being open and honest about our illness can feel difficult. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know how people will react. We may feel guilty, or ashamed, or worry about being a burden. We might believe depression is something we should be deal with it alone.

Reaching out is difficult for many people with depression.  If we’re struggling to ask for help, we’re certainly not alone.

Depression Why We Find It Hard To Ask For Help

We Don’t Think It Will Help

Sometimes, we can’t see how talking would help us. It feels pointless. We feel low and sad and we can’t see how having a chat would fix that. We might have tried medications or therapies in the past and not found any of them to be very helpful. We might have seen others who are close to us try different treatments and not find any of them helpful.

There are a lot of different treatment options available for depression. Everyone is different, so different treatments will work best for different people. If a few things haven’t worked, it doesn’t mean that the next thing we try won’t work. It can take a bit of trial and error to get things right.

We Don’t Know What To Say

It can be hard to know what to say when asking for help. If it’s the first time we’ve ever asked for help, we often struggle to find the words we need to describe how we’re feeling. If we’ve had help before, or have ongoing help, we struggle to explain how we’re currently feeling. It could be different to how we’ve been feeling in the past and it can be hard to get that across. It can feel as though we are repeating the same words time after time. It can be hard to explain any changes in our mood to those around us. We can say ‘I feel low’, but it might feel different to the ‘I feel low’ that we felt that week before.

There are resources out there to help us find the words we need to ask for help. If we’re struggling to talk, we could write it down, draw it, or find quotes or song lyrics that explain what we can’t. We don’t need to have the right words, we just need to start a conversation.

We Worry About How People Will React

If we have never spoken to someone about how we’re feeling before, we often worry about how they will react. We worry about them being angry, upset, or lost for words. We worry that they will feel unable to cope. We worry about the consequences of speaking to someone. We worry about whether they will tell anyone else.

We can’t know exactly how a person will react until we tell them. We don’t have to tell them everything in one go; we could start with the things we find a little easier to talk about and go from there. Whoever we speak to is likely to be someone we trust – either a friend or family member we know well, or a professional. They will want what’s best for us. So whatever they say, or do, it will be because they care for us and want us to get the help that we need.

We Feel Guilty

We feel guilty for using up people’s time. It could be a friend listening to us on an evening after work who ‘would rather be at home in their PJs’. It could be a family member who ‘could be getting on with their jobs around the house’. It could be a health professional who ‘could be seeing someone else in the time they’re seeing us’. We feel guilty and undeserving of their time and attention.

We are as deserving of time, care, and attention, as anyone else. Depression is lying when it tells that we are less worthy, or less deserving than others. Depression is an illness which we do not deserve to have. We deserve help and support. There is absolutely nothing to feel guilty about.

We Feel Like A Burden

We struggle to tell people how we are feeling because we don’t want to burden them. We don’t want them to worry about us. We don’t want them to feel as though they have to do anything to help us. We don’t want them to go out of their way for us. We don’t want them to have to spend time listening to us. We don’t want our mental health to weigh them down.

By and large though our loved ones would much prefer we let in them in, rather than struggle on alone. If we don’t feel able to open up to the people we’re close to, we can also speak to a doctor, nurse or a counsellor. Sharing our worries with professionals will not burden them. They are here to help. They have support systems in place. They would never see us a burden.

We Feel Like A Failure

Asking for help can sometimes feel like a failure. We feel as though we should be able to cope with everything alone. We feel as though we are weak for needing help that other people might not need. If we have been receiving help for a while, it can feel as though we are not recovering ‘fast enough’. Sometimes, we might have been in recovery for a while, and then begin to struggle again. By struggling again, it can feel like we are failing those who have helped us in the past.

Asking for help is not a failure. It is one of the strongest and bravest things any of us can ever do. There is no such thing as recovering ‘fast enough’ or ‘too slowly’. Different things will influence each person’s recovery. Struggling after a period of recovery isn’t a failure, either. Sometimes, life just happens and there’s not a lot we can do to stop it. All we can do is to keep reaching out. We don’t need to suffer in silence.


We Feel Like We’ve Used Up Our Sympathy Quota

If we’ve been unwell for a while, it can feel like we’ve had enough time and support from people to last us a lifetime. We feel as though we’ve used up enough of their time, and enough of their sympathy, and that we should be better by now. We feel as though people will be getting sick of us and fed up with us.

There isn’t a set limit to the amount of support we need and deserve. It’s not capped at a certain number of hours. There isn’t a sympathy quota. It might feel like friends or family are fed up with us at times, but it’s much more likely that they’re fed up with our illness than with us. Everyone’s recovery will look different, and will take different lengths of time.

We think we should be able to handle it alone

Sometimes we don’t ask for help because we feel like depression is something we should be able to deal with alone. We may see our problems as silly or inconsequential. We think we should be able to ‘pull ourselves together’ and ‘snap out of it’. Our illness may tell us we deserve to suffer alone.

But that’s simply not the case. Every single one of us is worthy of help, and even the strongest people need support. If we had a physical illness we wouldn’t hesitate in getting help from other people. Depression is no different. We can’t heal ourselves by denying its existence. We don’t need to handle it alone.

We’re Really Tired

We are so tired of fighting. All of our energy is going into just surviving. We don’t have any energy left to explain everything to someone. It’s hard enough just managing minute by minute, without having to try and find the words needed to explain what’s going on inside our heads. Sleep can feel like a more appealing option.

Trying to find the words can feel like a lot of hard work. But sometimes it can be the first step towards getting the help we need to become less tired of everything. Unfortunately, it can sometimes become harder before it becomes easier. But we deserve the help and support we need to get us back to our usual selves.

We Worry About Being Let Down

We worry that if we speak to people, they might offer to do something and then not follow through with it. We are often aware that there can be long waiting lists for certain types of support through the NHS. We would rather have no help at all than inconsistent help or promised help that doesn’t materialise.

We can’t be sure that we will never be let down. Waiting times can be frustrating. Having to repeat our story to different people can be difficult and anxiety-provoking.

It might be helpful to discuss our worries with those close to us, or any professionals that we’re working with. The fear around being let down is horrible. But until we ask for help, we won’t even get a chance of getting the support that we need.

Why we should ask for help

Depression is an isolating illness. Millions of people live with it, yet when we’re unwell we feel completely alone. We might be ashamed of how we’re feeling. We might feel we need to hide from world.

Reaching out for help – by getting professional support, or by talking to loved ones – is a vital step in escaping the isolation of our illness. As the saying goes,  a problem shared is a problem halved.  Even the greatest challenges can be overcome with a support team by our side.

There’s no denying that asking for help with our depression can be difficult. But help is out there, and we deserve support. Other people can help us. We don’t need to struggle alone.

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