Getting Help

Q. Where should a person go for help?
If you think you might need help, see your internist or general practitioner and explain your situation. Sometimes an actual physical illness can cause depression-like symptoms so that is why it is best to see your regular physician first to be checked out. Your doctor should be able to refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist if the severity of your depression warrants it.

Other sources of help include the members of the clergy, local suicide hotline, local hospital emergency room, local mental health center.

Q. Where can I find help in the Bay Area?
The following are places one might find help in the Bay Area:

 Suicide and Crisis Prevention 24-Hour Hotlines

  • Santa Clara County: (408) 279-3312
  • San Mateo Coounty: (650) 368-6655
  • Contra Costa County: (925) 472-0999 or 1-800-833-2900
  • Oakland/Berkeley: (510) 849-2212
  • Hayward/San Leonardo (510) 889-1333
  • Tri-Valley (925) 449-5566
  • Fremont: (510) 794-5211
  • San Francisco: (415) 781-0500 or 1-800-827-7511

 Psychiatric Emergency Services
(Services for any Psychiatric Emergency, also Referrals, Groups)

  • Santa Clara County: (408) 885-6100
  • San Mateo County: (650) 573-2662
  • Alameda County: 1-800-491-9099
  • Berkeley Albany: (510) 981-5290
  • San Francisco: (415) 206-8125
  • Stanford University Mood Disorders Clinic: (650) 725-2113
  • Patient Intake: (650) 498-9111
  • Low Cost or Sliding Scale Psychotherapy
  • Stanford Counseling Institute: (650) 723-2113
  • Pacific Graduate School of Psychology: (650) 493-2559
  • Northern California Psychiatry Society: (415) 334-2418
  • Center for Cognitive Therapy
  • Oakland: (510) 652-4455
  • San Francisco (415) 362-3827
  • Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic (650) 723-6601

The following is a list of national organizations dealing with the issues of depression. Please note: Model groups are not national organizations and should be contacted primarily by persons wishing to start a similar group in their area. Also, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope when requesting information from any group. When calling a contact number, remember that many of them are home numbers, so be considerate of the time you call. Keep in mind the different time zones.

[Reprinted from The Self-Help Sourcebook, 4th Edition, 1992. American Self-Help Clearinghouse, St.Clares' Riverside Medical Center, Denville, New Jersey 07834]

Depressed Anonymous
Int’l. 8 affiliated groups. Founded 1985. 12-step program to help depressed persons believe & hope they can feel better. Newsletter, phone support, information & referrals, pen pals, workshops, conference & seminars. Information packet ($5), group starting manual ($10.95).Newsletter. Write: 1013 Wagner Ave., Louisville, KY 40217. Call Hugh S. 502-969-3359.

Depression After Deliver
National. 85 chapters. Founded 1985. Support & Information for women who have suffered from post-partum depression. Telephone support in most states, newsletter, group development guidelines, pen pals, conferences. Write: PO. Box 1281, Morrisville, PA 19067. Call 215-295-3994 or 800-944-4773 (to leave name & address for information to be sent).

Emotions Anonymous
National. 1200 chapters. Founded 1971. Fellowship sharing experiences, hopes & strengths with each other, using the 12-step program to gain better emotional health. Correspondence program for those who cannot attend meetings. Chapter development guidelines. Write: PO. Box 4245, St. Paul, MN 55104. Call 612-647-9712.

National Depressive & Manic-Depressive Association
National. 250 chapters. Founded 1986. Mutual support & information for manic-depressives, depressives & their families. Public education on the biochemical nature of depressive illnesses. Annual conferences, chapter development guidelines. Newsletter. Write: NDMDA, 730 Franklin, 501, Chicago, IL 60610. Call 800-82-NDMDA or 312-642-0049.

National Foundation for Depressive Illness
An informational service, which provides a recorded message of the clear warning signs of depression and manic-depression, and instructs how to get help and further information. Call 1-800-239-1295. For a bibliography and referral list of physicians and support groups in your area, send $5 (if you can afford it) and a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope with 98 cents postage to, NAAFDI, PO. Box 2257, New York, NY 100116.

NOSAD (National Organization for Seasonal Affective Disorder)
National. groups. Founded 1988. Provides information & education re: the causes, nature & treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Encourages development of services to patients & families, research into causes & treatment. Newsletter. Write: PO. Box 451, Vienna, VA 22180. Call 301-762-0768.

Helping Hands
Founded 1985. A comfortable & homey atmosphere for people with manic-depression, schizophrenia or clinical depression who seek an environment that makes them more aware of themselves & eliminates a negative attitude. Group development guidelines. Write: c/o Rita Martone, 86 Poor St, Andover, MA 01810. Call 508-475-3388.

MDSG-NY (Mood Disorders Support Group, Inc.)
Founded 1981. Support & education for people with manic-depression or depression & their families & friends. Guest lectures, newsletter, rap groups, assistance in starting groups. Write: PO. Box 1747, Madison Square Station, New York, NY 10159. Call 212-533-MDSG.

Q. How can family and friends help the depressed person?
The most important things anyone can do for depressed people is to help them get appropriate diagnosis and treatment. This may involve encouraging a depressed individual to stay with treatment until symptoms begin to abate (several weeks) or to seek different treatment if no improvement occurs. On occasion, it may require making an appointment and accompanying the depressed person to the doctor. It may also mean monitoring whether the depressed person is taking medication.

The second most important thing is to offer emotional support. This involves understanding, patience, affection, and encouragement. Engage the depressed person in conversation and listen carefully. Do not disparage feelings expressed, but point out realities and offer hope. Do not ignore remarks about suicide. Always report them to the doctor. Invite the depressed person for walks, outings, to the movies, and other activities. Be gently insistent if your invitation is refused. Encourage participation in some activities that once gave pleasure, such as hobbies, sports, religious or cultural activities, but do not push the depressed person to undertake too much too soon.

The depressed person needs diversion and company. but too many demands can increase feelings of failure. Do not accuse the depressed person of faking illness or laziness or expect him or her to “snap out of it.” Eventually, with treatment, most depressed people do yet better. Keep that in mind, and keep reassuring the depressed person that with time and help, he or she will feel better.