Resources for affording medications and managing them.

Making the decision to take medications for your depression can be a big decision and should be made with the input of a qualified psychiatric provider. Sometimes only one medication is enough, and sometimes multiple medications are needed to alleviate symptoms. It is important to note that medications for depression are often not “silver bullets,” and can also require psychotherapy and/or other supports.

Below you’ll find resources for talking with psychiatric medication providers, remembering to take meds, managing meds, and more.

General Depression Medication Tips

Keep a Medication List

Especially if you are taking multiple medications, it is important to keep an updated list of your medications with you. Medication tracker and reminder apps, such as Round Health and Medisafe, can help you keep an update list of medications in addition to pill reminders. Keeping an updated list of medications can help to prevent dangerous medication interactions and ensure that all of your providers are on the same page.

Use Only One Pharmacy if Possible

Pharmacies have varying prices for the same medication, so it may be difficult at times to have just one pharmacy. However, having only one pharmacy can reduce the likelihood of dangerous medication interactions that could occur if the pharmacy does not have your most updated medication list. Websites such as GoodRx and SingleCare can assist you in determining which pharmacy has the best prices for your medications.

Get a Yearly Medication Review

At your annual visit with your primary care provider (or at a visit with your psychiatric medication provider), ask to review all of your medications to ensure they are all still necessary and to evaluate whether doses need to be changed.

Know Your Medications
  • It is *very* important to understand the basics of your medications- namely, what they’re intended to treat, any interactions they may have with other medications, and/or other considerations (i.e. dietary restrictions or lifestyle factors). 
  • You may also want to know about potential side effects that could occur with a medication. You can discuss potential side effects and how they would be addressed with your clinician. *It is also important to understand that side effects and other potential medication complications do NOT occur in many people taking the medication. Make sure you discuss any concerns about side effects with your psychiatric provider, especially prior to discontinuiing medications.
  • Resources for learning more about psychopharmacology include: “Psych Meds Made Simple” book by Ashley Peterson, MedlinePlus and A Healthy Place Patient Information Sheets.
  • DO NOT assume all of your providers are aware of the ins and outs of your medication (especially if you’re taking many meds/infrequently prescribed meds).
Make Sure All of Your Providers Have an Updated Medication List

Most providers ask about medication changes, but mistakes happen. Make sure to include as-needed medications as well that you may not take every day.

Questions to Ask Your Psychiatric Medication Provider

The following are questions to ask your provider prior to starting a new psychiatric medication. This list is not exhaustive! Click on the image to view the printable questions.

Affording Medications

Use Discount Programs
  • Many states offer prescription assistance programs. Contact a NAMI affiliate to see what your state offers.
  • NeedyMeds is a nonprofit that helps people get access to lower cost drugs. They can help you find lower cost drugs from pharmaceutical companies, and they have a drug discount card.
  • MedicineAssistanceTool is a search engine designed to help patients and their care team to find resources available through the various biopharmaceutical industry programs.
  • RxAssist can help you learn about ways to use pharmaceutical company programs and other resources to help reduce your medication costs.
  • PatientAssistance can help you find coupons for specific drugs, and also find patient assistance programs offered by drug companies.
  • GoodRx and Blink Health are fantastic resources that offer significant discounts on meds. They can also help you to compare prices at different pharmacies to help you find the cheapest option.
Consider Delivery Pharmacies

Pharmacies that do not have brick-and-mortar locations may have lower cost medications. Some pharmacies include: 

The Cost Plus Drug CompanyCapsule Pharmacy, and Amazon Pharmacy.

Compare Pharmacies
  • All pharmacies do not charge the same price for a medication. Call different pharmacies in your area or use GoodRx or Blink Health to compare prices.
  • There are many delivery-based pharmacies, such as the Marc Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company and Capsule that are able to negotiate with drug companies to get much lower medication costs.
Ask Your Doctor for Coupons and/or Samples
  • If you’re receiving your medication for the first time, your doctor might have coupons, or can help you apply to the medication supplier to help you receive a discount (if you meet income requirements). You can also receive coupons through some of the discount services above.
Sign Up for Insurance
  • Private insurance, and public aid programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, can greatly offset the cost of paying for medication.
    • Click here to see if you qualify for Medicaid. 
    • Click here to see if you qualify for Medicare.
    • Click here for more information about the Health Insurance Marketplaces and here to learn about the steps to take for getting insurance through the marketplace.
    • Click here for a glossary of terms that breaks down some of the terms related to insurance, medication discount programs, etc. so they’re easier to understand.

Difficulty Taking Medication Consistently

Address Side Effects

Many people stop taking medications because they may experience uncomfortable side effects. Instead of discontinuing the medication(s) altogether, which can be dangerous to your health, track your side effects and discuss them with your psychiatric provider. You can also be proactive and discuss potential side effects and how they could be addressed with your provider. There are many ways to work together to reduce or eliminate side effects, but make sure this is done safely with the aide of an experienced clinician. 

Utilize Reminder Apps and Calendars

If you are consistently forgetting to take medications, there are a number of options to try:

  • Utilize your phone for calendar reminders or reminder apps: schedule a recurring reminder on your phone for times to take your medications, or utilize reminder apps such as Round Health or Medisafe to give you notifications to take your medications.
  • Try reminder devices: EllieGrid is a smart pill box that makes a sound and a phone alert when it is time to take medications. Smart pill caps, such as this one, can help if you often forget if you’ve taken your medication(s) by alerting you of the last time the cap was opened.
Bring Your Medication with You

If you consistently forget to take your medications, bring them with you so you can take them on-the-go.

Pill boxes do not need to be large and bulky. These pill boxes can hold up to 8 medications and are compact (these erasable labels are helpful to label medications). This medication holder is very non-descript, visually appealing, & compact, and holds a 7-day supply of medication.

Pair Taking Medication with Another Established Habit

Pairing taking your medication with another habit can help to increase the likelihood of taking the medication. For instance, if you take your medications in the morning, try taking them after doing an already-established habit, such as brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, or making coffee. Make sure the medication is located close to where you perform the habit so it is easy to take. 

Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Medication

Check out the next section on managing medications for tips!

Trouble Organizing and Managing Medication

Use a Pill Box
  • To keep medications organized and avoid medication errors, use a pill box with the meds you need to take on various days/times of day. You can try traditional boxes like these, organizers that you can take apart and bring along just the medications for the day, like these, or many different variations. Schedule a reminder for a specific day of the week to refill your pill box.
  • If you:
    • Would prefer not to put each individual pill into a pill box for each day
    • Have difficulties remembering to load up your 7-day pill box every week
    • Want to carry many important medications with you but don’t want to carry a full 7-day organizer
    • Have a complex regimen for taking medications (i.e. meds taken multiple times a day, many as-needed meds):

Consider a pill box where you can pour many/all pills into a compartment, such as these. You can label each compartment using an erasable label, in case you need to change around the configuration, or a label maker, such as this one.

Make Sure You Don't Run Out of Medication

Keeping on top of medication, especially multiple medications, can be very difficult. A few tricks include:

Make Sure Your Medication is on Auto-Refill

Call your pharmacy and make sure that all the medications that can be auto-filled are “on auto-fill” so that you don’t have to continue reaching out to the pharmacy when medications get low or run out.

Use One Pharmacy if You Can

Once you find a pharmacy that works for you, try to keep your medication at that pharmacy so that it is easier to manage refills and coordinate with the pharmacist if needed.

Put a Reminder on Your Phone At Least a Week Before a Prescription Expires

Contacting your provider or pharmacy well before to a prescription expires will ensure that you don’t miss doses. This is especially important for controlled medications such as benzodiazepines or stimulants, as you cannot put those on auto-refill.

Get Your Medication Delivered

It can be difficult to go to the pharmacy when it’s hard to simply get out of bed. If it is difficult for you to get to the pharmacy, see if they can deliver. Many pharmacies offer free delivery, and others are primarily delivery-based pharmacies, such as Capsule or Amazon Pharmacy. This can reduce barriers to taking medications consistently.

Request Blister Packs

If it is difficult to keep track of how many medications you have left, ask your pharmacist to get them packaged in a “blister pack,” in which the medications are individually packaged, so you can keep better track of how many are left.

Use Apps as Reminders & to Keep Track of How Many Pills are Left

Apps such as Medisafe or MyTherapy can remind you to take meds and help you keep track of how many you have left.

Utilize Innovative Medication Management Services

Amazon offers Pillpack, an online pharmacy and service in which medication is packaged into individual packs for different days of the week and times of day at no extra cost. Additionally, HeroHealth is a medication dispenser which dispenses daily medication and is connected to a pharmacy, which tracks when more medication is needed.

General Medication Management

Managing care and medications can be very difficult, especially when you’re feeling exhausted and distressed. The following are ideas to try:

  • Ask a family member or friend to assist you with staying on-top of medications and assisting with contacting insurance companies, psychiatric medication providers, pharmacies, etc. 
  • Consider working with a patient advocate or private care management organization to have more assistance with working with various providers and organizations.
  • Utilize services such as GetHuman or Dial a Human, which allow you to bypass many automated systems in order to speak with a person faster.



Discover tips for keeping up with brushing teeth, showering, and more

Not being able to maintain personal hygiene is a reality for many people suffering from depression. When it’s hard to simply get out of bed, taking a shower or brushing teeth can seem like an impossible task. It is important to remember that you are not lazy or gross; you are just struggling right now. 

Try your best to take even small steps to maintain personal hygiene. These small steps can help you feel better physically and more accomplished mentally. The following hygiene hacks can help. 

Personal Hygiene

  • Use dry shampoo: dry shampoo can help remove the extra oil in your hair. Hold it 4-6 in away from hair and spray directly at the roots. Then, using your fingertips, massage the product into the roots and scalp so it’s evenly distributed. Some of the more effective ones, vetted by experts, are Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, TRESemmé Pro Pure Dry Shampoo, and Billie Floof Dry Shampoo.
  • Try a sink bath or use baby wipes: for a sink bath, use a wash cloth and some soap in the sink and use it to wash the “dirtier” areas (such as armpits, etc.). You can even try washing your hair under the faucet if the sink is deep enough. Baby wipes are another alternative you can use even while still in bed. 
  • Take a bath instead of a shower, or purchase a shower chair: if the thought of standing in the shower for a long time deters you from taking a shower, consider taking a bath or buying a shower chair. You could also make the bath a relaxing, therapeutic experience, with bath bombs and essential oils.
  • Consider using a rinse-free shampoo or body wash:


Brushing Teeth

There are a number of ways to keep breath fresh and your mouth relatively  clean when you haven’t been able to brush your teeth. These include: 

  • Using mouthwash
  • Chewing minty gum: look for sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol, a naturally-occurring sweetener that reduces cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Examples include: 5 Sugar-Free gum, Ice Breakers Ice Cubes Sugar-free gum, and Orbit Sugar-Free gum.
  • Using disposable toothbrushes: Disposable toothbrushes are difficult to find in stores but can be found online. Examples include Wisps and Brushee. They don’t require water and are great for when it is difficult to get out of bed.



  • Consider purchasing clothing dry wash sprays (such as this one) meant to give clothing a refresh. 
  • Use stain removers– such as pens and wipes to get stains out.
  • For wrinkly clothes, use wrinkle release spray (such as this one) that removes most wrinkles without an iron.
Brushing Hair

Not being able to keep up with activities such as brushing your hair may bring up a lot of emotions, like shame, embarrassment, and sadness. It might help to know these issues are actually quite common, as we see in this article. Here are the general steps for detangling “depression hair” (may vary slightly depending on hair type):

1. Prepare yourself: this may take a while and some hair could fall out, which could be difficult. Make the environment as soothing as possible by brightening the room, utilizing paced breathing (the breathwrk app is great for this), and turning on music that makes you feel good.

2. Get your equipment together: You will need:

    • One full spray bottle of water
    • Deep conditioner or some detangling oil
    • 3 combs – one wide-tooth, one “medium-spaced,” one standard comb
    • A small set of of hair scissors (*You may want to have a friend to handle the scissors if you do not feel safe around them)

3. Begin detangling.

  1. Moisten the hair (but avoid drenching it, as that can cause breakage). Lightly spray and massage scalp.
  2. Apply deep conditioner and leave in according to instructions.
  3. Start with your fingers. Gently un-knot the easier spots first with your fingers.
  4. Comb time. Start with the widest comb first and focus on the ends by holding your hair firmly and lightly combing the ends. As your hair starts to detangle, work your way toward your scalp.
  5. Once you’ve loosened it a bit, comb with the “medium” spaced comb, followed by the smallest.
  6. If need-be, you may need to use the scissors on a section of matted hair that refuses to loosen. First, get a good hold of it, and then lightly run the scissor blade  on the underside of the matted hair. Tug at the matted section gently to see if it loosens. 

4. Consider going to a professional hairdresser/barber: it may difficult to untangle all the matted hair. Also if energy and concentration is low, going to a professional from the get-go might be the preferred decision.


Source 1

Environmental Hygiene

General Cleaning Tips
  • Make sure you have the right supplies for cleaning: paper towels, cleaning spray (Mrs. Meyer’s Surface Cleaner Spray is nice because it smells good which can be a good motivator), trash bags, and a vacuum (or broom & dust pan).
  • Try to be gentle with yourself. It is understandable to feel a number of different emotions when you have to face some of the clutter that has piled up since becoming depressed (shame, sadness, grief, apathy, etc.).
  • Take breaks often (like, set a timer for every X minutes). Start off with doing 5 minutes of the chore you dislike the least if that’s where you’re at. The point is that you’re trying. 🙂
  • Motivation low? If you can’t find the motivation to start, try to pair a cleaning activity with an activity you already do. So, for instance, if you’re lying in bed and get up to go to the bathroom, do 5 minutes-worth of picking clothes off the floor when you get back.
  • Ask for help. See if family or a good friend can help you- you are worthy of their help.
  • Hire professional help. If you don’t have anyone near you, hire a cleaner if you have the means, or ask your family/friends if they can loan you money for one. In addition to searching for house cleaners online, you can also try apps like TIDY or Maidsapp (both of which have different cleaning packages at increasing prices of cleaning services). Resources like TaskRabbit may also be a good option- as they are not designed only for cleaning and you can choose among many cleaning services and professionals.
Cleaning Bedroom

Cleaning Room – Energy Low

Feeling depressed and low on energy but still thinking about cleaning a bit. Awesome job already. Here are a few tips that might help during this tough time:

  • Your goal is to just make space functional to live
  • Functional ≠ neat or organized. Just need a clear place to sleep and safe places to walk around, and preferably food that is sealed in bags/containers.
  • Use the 5 minute method: set a timer for 5 minutes, and do what you can within those 5 minutes:
    • Clear off anything that has accumulated on bed (i.e. plastic bottles, empty snack bags, dishes, clothing, electronics). Bonus points for changing sheets.
    • Clear a path to the rest of the house
  • If after 5 minutes, you want to keep cleaning, go for it! If not, you did an annoying thing when you felt like crap. Literally tell yourself, “good job.”
  • As stated in the “General Cleaning Tips” tab – it is OK to ask for help. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but keep thinking that if you broke your leg, you would need help with these kinds of things. This is the same concept – as you work through this more “invisible fracture,” know that support from others makes your recovery easier.
Cleaning Room – Energy Higher

If you have a bit more energy to tackle cleaning- woohooo! Here are some tips for that initial de-clutter.

  • Choose something enjoyable you can do while you clean that will make it less annoying, such as listening to a podcast, a “cleaning playlist,” or calling a friend.
  • Use the “5 Things Tidying Method” created by professional therapist K.C. Davis. Basically, look at a messy room as 5 groups of stuff:
    • Trash
    • Dishes
    • Clothing/laundry
    • Things without a place
    • Things with a place they need to go into
  • Just try sorting through the clutter into those main categories, and make sure you stay in the room so you don’t get distracted by things in another room.
  • Affordable baskets/bins from the dollar store or online (i.e. these or these), or simply trash bags can be really helpful when sorting. Chuck items from various groups outlined above in these for a quick way to de-clutter
  • If you need to stop after sorting (or before), see how much better your room already looks and literally tell yourself you’ve done a great job.
  • If you can keep going and start to tackle the dishes/laundry, etc., A+ for you. No matter how far you got, you tried, and that means something.



Source – K.C. Davis (therapist & author), How to Clean When You’re Depressed, and the Depression/Messy House Cycle



Explore tips for improving sleep when depressed

Sleep becomes so messed up when we’re depressed. We’re either sleeping all the time, or we can’t sleep at all because thoughts just keep running through our mind. For some of us, it’s easy to fall asleep and we’re sleeping way too much, and for others, it’s hard to fall asleep. 

The tips below are to give you information and resources for developing healthy sleep habits, and what to do when you just can’t catch those zzz’s.

Establishing a Sleep Routine (To Increase Likelihood of Sleep)

Follow a Consistent Sleep Schedule, Even on Weekends
  • Go to bed and get up at the same times each day. This sets the body’s “internal clock” to expect sleep at a certain time night after night.
  • Set a bedtime that is early enough to get at least 7 hours of sleep. 
  • Avoid napping. If you must nap, try to keep it short and before 5 p.m.
Do Not Use Your Bed in the Daytime
  • Even if it means moving from your bed to the couch, try to do so for the sake of sleep health. Do not use your bed for things like watching TV, talking on the phone or eating. Your bed should only be used for sleep and sex.
Avoid Caffeine, Nicotine, Alcohol, Heavy Meals, and Exercise 4-6 Hours Before Bedtime
  • Stimulating chemicals and energizing activities keep you awake, so try to limit their intake before bed,
  • While alcohol may help to bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, which decreases sleep quality. Try to limit drinking to 0-2 drinks/day and avoid drinking in the hours before bedtime.
Go to Sleep When You Are Truly Tired
  • Struggling to fall asleep can be frustrating. If you can’t sleep after ~20 minutes, get out of bed, go to another room, and do a relaxing activity, such as reading or meditating, until you are tired.
Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine
  • Signal to your mind that it is time to wind down with a period of relaxing activities about 30 min-1 hour before bed. Some activities can include: 
    • Taking a bath/shower (the rise and then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness)
    • Reading a book
    • Meditating to calm your thoughts. You can do this  on your own or using an app like Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer.
Turn Your Bedroom Into a Sleep-Inducing Environment
  • A quiet, dark, and cool environment best promotes sleep. To achieve this, use earplugs or invest in a white noise machine to lower noise volume, use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block light, and keep the temperature between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Keep computers, TVs and work materials out of the room in order to strengthen the mental association between your bedroom and sleeping.
  • Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Try an App

What To Do When You Can't Sleep

Feeling Calm But Wide Awake
  • Get out of bed, go to another room, and do an activity that will not wake you up further, such as reading a boring book. As you start getting tired, go back to bed. 
  • Try a light snack, such as an apple or crackers.
Feeling Anxious, or Ruminating

Put Your Face in Cold Water
  • This technique is known as the temperature TIPP skill of dialectical behavioral therapy. 
  • In order to calm down your thoughts, try holding your breath and putting your face in a bowl of cold water or holding a cold pack on your eyes and cheeks for at least 30 seconds.
  • This will cue your mammalian diving reflex, which causes our body chemistry to change—heart rate drops down immediately and the “rest and digest” nervous system is activated to prompt a relaxation response
  • For a demonstration of this skill, click here
Try Meditating
  • The 9-0 meditation technique can be helpful. Breathe in deeply and breathe out slowly, saying in your mind the number 9. On the next breath out, say 8; next breath out, say 7, and so on until 0. Then, start over, but this time start with 8 as you breathe out, followed by 7, and so on until 0. Keep focusing on the numbers. Continue this until you fall asleep. 
Focus On The Bodily Sensation of the Rumination
  • How does the rumination make your body feel? Tight? Heavy? Is a particular area of your body more affected than another area? 
Reassure Yourself
  • Ruminating at night is often just “middle-of-the-night-worries.” In the morning you will usually think and feel differently.
If the Rumination Does Not Stop
  • If it is solvable, solve it. If it is insolvable, think about what the very worst outcome you can imagine would be, and imagine coping ahead with that catastrophe. 

How to Get out of Bed When You Don't Want to

Many people wake up in the morning and think, “what’s the point?” Or they may feel such overwhelming sadness, anxiety, heaviness, etc. that it seems impossible to get out of bed. Below are a few tips to help you get out of bed:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drinking some water can bring about some mental clarity, especially if you’re dehydrated.
  • Meditate: Do a short (5-10 min) meditation, such as The Daily Calm on the Calm app or the Meditation Minis podcast. These can help to encourage a sense of presence, acceptance, and  readiness for the day.
  • Think About the Benefits of Getting Up, and Whether Staying in Bed Would Be Helpful: 
    • What is something that could entice you to get up in the morning? Getting a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee shop? Going on a walk and listening to a good podcast?
    • Ask yourself, would staying in bed make me feel better?
  • Start Off Small: 
    • Wiggle your fingers and toes
    • Make larger movement with your limbs
    • Now try sitting up by propping yourself up with your pillow.
    • Now move your legs to the side of the bed.
    • Finally, stand up, taking all the time you need. You’re up! Praise yourself for doing something difficult.

*Note:  it is very easy to judge yourself for not being able to get out of bed, or taking small steps to get out. Try to find some way to reassure yourself that you are struggling with depression right now, and you are doing your best. Just as if you had a broken leg, you are taking extra time to do things, and that is OK.



Discover simple movements & exercises to do, even when motivation is low.

Oh, exercise – that thing you know is so good for you but is so difficult to do when depressed. Movement isn’t just good for the physical benefits; research has shown that it can be just as effective as the leading medication and therapy treatments for depression in some cases. That’s why friends, family, and especially care providers keep recommending it. 

The key to getting started with exercising when depressed is to start off small. Just get moving. If going for a walk is your goal and you’re stuck in bed, for instance:

  • Try simply moving your arms and legs.
  • Then maybe you’ll feel ready to get out of bed and walk to the kitchen. Stop there and see how you feel.
  • Maybe you’ll feel ready to walk to the front door, and just sit outside and breathe fresh air.
  • Maybe you will stop there for the day, or maybe you’ll be able to walk down the street. Keep going if you can!

Try not to judge, and instead celebrate each action you’re able to do. The movement & exercise resources below can help get you started, based on where you’re at.

Movement for Depression

Try the Wakeout App

If there is one app to download for exercising while depressed, it's this one.
- Choose workouts that are as short as 30 seconds, based on where you are (bedroom, living room, work, sitting, standing, etc.).
- Customize based on mood (relaxing, energizing, intense, or fun) and length of workout.

Click Here for More Info

How to Exercise When You Are Depressed

Exercise is one of the best tools on managing depression. The cruel irony, of course, is that depression makes it harder to exercise...thankfully, it’s not impossible.

Yoga For Depression - Yoga With Adriene

Yoga For Depression is a 15 min yoga practice to help balance and restore both the physical and emotional body.

1 Hour Pilates Class for Stress, Anxiety, & Depression

Intermediate/advanced level.

4 Yoga Poses for Depression

Yoga for depression

Depression and Exercise - A Simple Workout

This is a video for any person suffering with depression and anxiety that would like to start exercising but not sure how.

Chair Movement (Can Do Sitting Down)

Yoga at Your Desk

This sequence is ideal for those who want to sneak in a quick yoga break or for those who are in healing and want to practice a little bit of opening with the support of a chair.

Chair Exercises - Seated Chair Workout

Chair exercises seated workout by Lucy Wyndham-Read

12 Core Strengthening Exercises You Can Do In The Office (Without Leaving Your Seat)

Finally, you can have a stronger core than before... Without needing to go to the gym or lay out a yoga mat.

Workouts You Can Do Sitting Down

By Goodful

Chair Stretches Class. Seated Total Body Flexibility Routine

This video is a Chair Stretch Flow Class. Seated Total Body Routine

Low-Intensity Seated Cardio Work Out

Join Natalie Ikeman, PA-C from the HCMC Golden Valley Clinic while she takes you through a low-intensity seated cardiovascular exercise.

Exercises to Lose Your Arms & Stomach While Sitting Down : Pilates & Core Exercises

By eHowFitness

3 Best Couch Exercises

You don't need a gym or equipment to get a great workout! These 3 exercises can be done from a couch.

Bed Movement (Can Do Lying Down)

12 Easy Exercises To Do In Bed To Reduce Fat

*Note- exercising for the sake of getting active and feeling better emotionally is encouraged (losing weight isn't the goal of the videos recommended on the CFD website)

5-Minute AB Exercises in Bed!

These moves will strengthen your core and keep you awake in the morning.

Lazy Couch/Bed Potato Workout (100% Lying Down)

Note- CFD did not name this video. We are in no way implying that you are lazy. You are doing the best you can. This video simply had great workout ideas.

Ultimate Daily Stretching Routine for Flexibility and Relaxation

The best time for me to get more flexible is right before bed.

Abs and Leg Workout In BED (10 Mins)

Welcome to a fun and exciting workout, that you can do in bed! Yes, you can stay nice and warm while you do this routine and of course, stay in your pajamas too.

5-Minute Fat-Burning Workout You Can Do In Bed

*Note- exercising for the sake of getting active and feeling better emotionally is encouraged (losing weight isn't the goal of the videos recommended on the CFD website)

Lazy Girl Full Body Workout - 7 min. (NO JUMPING)

Note- CFD did not name this video. We are in no way implying that you are lazy. You are doing the best you can. This video simply had great workout ideas.

10 minute Bedtime Yoga In Bed | Relaxing Bedtime Yoga Routine

Relaxing yoga routine in bed.

Nutrition & Recipes

Nutrition & Recipes

Find nutrition tips and quick, easy, "depression-friendly" recipes

Eating is an issue for many people experiencing depression. Exhaustion and/or lack of motivation, among several other factors, can make planning and preparing meals feel like the last things you’d want to do. Some folks may turn to highly processed comfort foods, while others may not even eat for days at a time.

7 Tips for Cooking & Eating When You're Depressed

1. Plan Ahead When You're Feeling OK
  • Make a List of Meal Ideas: When depressed, sometimes just thinking about things to make is overwhelming. When you’re not feeling too crappy, make a list of simple things you can easily make when/if a depressive episode hits again. Some examples are: peanut butter and banana on toast with a yogurt, meal-replacement smoothies, or pita pizzaCheck out the “Depression-Friendly” Recipes section for ideas.
  • Plan For The Future: When you’re feeling up for cooking, make some extra to portion into meals for the future. Future You will thank you.
2. Stock Up on Frozen Vegetables, Microwaveable Rice, and a Protein
  • Benefits: Frozen foods and instant rice keep forever, are cheap, and take no time to prepare. Pair them with a protein (think: rotisserie chicken, scrambled eggs, tofu, etc.) and you have a complete meal. Click here to learn how to roast frozen vegetables (spoiler: it’s super easy), and here for different sauces to put on your rice+veggie+protein combo so each meal is unique.
3. Delivery is Your Friend

If you’re able to swing it financially, get food delivered to you!

  • Allow yourself to order take-out: Spending a bit more on take-out right now might be a wiser decision compared to not eating at all.
  • Get your groceries delivered: Check out Instacart and Peapod. Whisk is also a great app that allows you to import ingredients from a recipe into a grocery list, and connect that list to a grocery delivery service. Easy peasy.
4. Temporarily Forget About Saving the Environment
  • Make use of plastic utensils, paper plates, and disposable aluminum pans: We know, this one is hard to swallow. But just for now, give yourself permission to use these things- reducing the number of dishes you’ll have to wash can make cooking so much less of a pain.
5. Invest in a Slow Cooker and/or Instant Pot
  • Seriously. Throw ingredients in and let the device do the work for you. Get an Instant Pot here and a slow cooker here
6. Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends
  • You can’t do everything alone: Ask for help – maybe a friend or family member can pick up some groceries for you or help you prepare meals.
7. Break Big Meals Up into Smaller Ones
  • 3 meals too much right now? Break them into 6 mini-meals per day to make it easier.

Nutrition Rules of Thumb

The MyPlate is an easy way to make sure your meal is healthy and nutritious. Click on the image below to enlarge & learn more.

Difficulty Affording Food

Having difficulty affording food on top of being depressed is very stressful. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help: 

Plan Ahead Before Going to the Store

Making a plan before heading to the store can help you make fewer shopping trips, buy only the items you need, and save money. 

  • Plan Your Meals: Use the Depression-Friendly Recipes to help you plan meals that are easy to cook, or the MyPlate Kitchen recipe tool for low-cost recipe ideas. Make sure to check to see what ingredients you already have so you don’t buy double. This meal planning worksheet can help with figuring out what to make.
  • Save More: Make sure you eat before you shop so you don’t impulse-buy, and use coupons, but only for items you know you’ll use. Click here for more money-saving tips.
Shop Smart in the Store
  • Know Your Food: Did you know that frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh? Or that kidney beans, lentils and split peas are a great & affordable source of protein? Click here for more helpful budget-friendly tips on shopping, broken down by food group.
Make Budget-Friendly Meals

Making meals is easier said than done when you’re feeling depressed. Try out: 

    • The MyPlate Kitchen: an interactive tool that features a searchable database of healthy, budget-friendly recipes, and options to create a cookbook and a shopping list. 
    • The Depression-Friendly Recipes on this page to find simple recipes that take little effort to make, for when depression days are particularly bad.
    • Don’t feel like coming up with a grocery list and planning meals? Use this sample 2-week menu to do the work for you. 
Apply for/Utilize Benefits

If you qualify for financial assistance for food, such as SNAP/WIC, make sure you’re receiving those benefits. 

    • If you have a lower income, you may qualify for SNAP. To apply for benefits, or get information about SNAP, contact your local SNAP office by locating it here. 
      • To find a SNAP retailer, click here.
    • If you are a woman and are pregnant and/or have a child(ren) under the age of 5, you may qualify for WIC. To apply for these benefits, contact your local office by locating it here. 
      • To find WIC-approved grocery  stores/pharmacies, click here. 
    • Many farmers’ markets accept SNAP and WIC. To locate a farmers’ market, click here


The recipes below were selected from various sources because they 1. don’t require much effort to make and 2. mostly use ingredients you may already have/can find easily. Are they the most exciting culinary creations in the world? Nope. Will they get the job done? Absolutely.

"Depression-Friendly" Recipes

  • Use the filters to refine results
  • “Less Effort” = no/optional chopping and/or fewer instructional steps; basically mix ingredients together. “Less Effort” does NOT mean less of an accomplishment, however. Making the choice to nourish your body despite feeling depressed is no small feat. 



Find inspiration from others who have dealt/are dealing with depression

It’s easily to feel like your depression will never end when you’re in the middle of it. The pain and emptiness that many of us feel when you’re experiencing depression can make it feel like you’re the only one going through this struggle. Witnessing stories of individuals who have been “there” and were able to find a sense of fulfillment and peace in their lives, despite living with depression, can be incredibly powerful. Below are stories of individuals who have struggled with depression and are recovering. They share their stories to make others feel less alone, and show that it is possible to struggle significantly, and still live a life worth living.



Steps to take when you're experiencing a crisis

If You are Having Experiences Such As:

  • Have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, including a plan and/or intention to carry it out
  • Are seeing or hearing things (hallucinations)
  • Have bizarre or paranoid ideas (delusions)
  • Are so revved up or impulsive that you are doing dangerous or harmful things
  • Feel too exhausted or depressed to get out of bed or take care of yourself or your family
  • Can’t stop using alcohol or other substances in harmful ways
  • Have not eaten or slept for several days
  • Have tried outpatient treatment (therapy, medication and support) and still have symptoms that significantly interfere with your life
  • Are otherwise distraught & out of control
You are very likely experiencing a psychiatric emergency and are in need of help immediately

If you need immediate help (i.e. are in imminent danger of hurting yourself and/or others):

If you have time to start with a phone call for guidance and support from a mental health professional:

  • Call your mental health team, if you have one
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988(or visit this website if you are located out of the US, or want a hotline more tailored to your needs (i.e. for LGBTQIA+ individuals, Veterans, etc.)
  • Text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

You might be feeling scared, hopeless, ashamed, alone, worthless, numb, or any other number of emotions. These emotions are real and valid.

Just know that you are not alone in feeling this way, and that you mean something to this world just by being in it. Remember what our old friend Winnie the Pooh told us, “you are braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” We at Cereal for Dinner believe in you, even if it’s hard to believe in yourself right now. ♥

Need an immediate message of hope? Text “HOPE” to (312) 313-1110

Additional Resources

Coping Skills for Urges to Kill Self

Please use these skills when you have overwhelming emotions (especially overwhelming urges to kill yourself) in conjunction with contacting one of the emergency resources outlined above:

Stop, Drop, Roll: Steps for being “On Fire” emotionally from on Vimeo.

Stories of Hope (You Can Get Through This)

These are stories of individuals who have experienced intensely strong emotions – sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, even intense numbness – and they have made it through to tomorrow, just like you can. 

  • Hope page – videos and articles of people who have experienced various types of depression and are recovering/learned to manage symptoms & live life.
  • – a fantastic resource allowing you to tell your story and get support from others who have been there, & also watch videos of people who have experienced similar feelings.
  • Caring Messages – these are caring messages from people who have experienced intensely suicidal thoughts, & also from clinicians who treat people with those thoughts.
  • Live Through This – written stories of suicide attempt survivors who are living well and managing symptoms. Trigger warning: suicide.
Crisis Preparation
  • Put preferred crisis hotline on phone for easy access (crisis lines here)
  • Create a safety plan, which is a list of coping strategies that work for you when distressed and your sources of support. It can also help with identifying warning signs so you can be proactive about responding when you’re not doing so well. As a result, you can help yourself to stay safe. You should ideally create this with a mental health provider. A few ways to make a safety plan are:
    • My 3 is a downloadable app recommended by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that creates a safety plan for people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
    • My Safety Plan, which helps you to easily create a PDF of a safety plan. 
    • Silver Hill Hospital Safety Plan, which includes a lot of helpful questions to identify emotion triggers, coping skills and also personal strengths and reasons to live.
    • Now Matters Now safety plan, which includes specific coping skills and resources to try.
  • Create a crisis box. These typically include items that stimulate all 5 senses and that provide you with comfort when distressed. Check out this video for ideas.
Navigating a Mental Health Crisis (for Caregivers)
  • Navigating a Mental Health Crisis is a comprehensive resource guide created by the National Alliance on Mental Illness primarily for those who are assisting someone in experiencing a mental health crisis.

Positive Activities

Positive Activities

Find ideas for activities to increase positive emotions.

Accumulating positive experiences is an important way to create invite more positive emotions into our lives. Developing this foundation of positive experiences and emotions can act as a protective barrier when our depression sets in, sometimes helping it to not get as bad as it might have been. This is why it is important to make sure you’re doing enjoyable and valued activities on a regular basis. 

Sometimes it is difficult to come up with enjoyable activities to do when you’re feeling low. Use the filters below to get some ideas.

Going fishingOutdoorsCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Holding the door for someoneHelping OthersSocial
Going to the gymActiveSocial
Reading magazines or newspapersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Surprising someone with a favorSpiritualHelping Others
Playing golfOutdoorsActiveSocial
Eating yummy foodsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Thinking about pleasant events (i.e. birthdays, graduations, time with friends/family, etc.)At HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Having family get-togethersSocial
Watching an inspiring YouTube videoSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
SewingCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Planning a day’s activitiesAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Reading blogs or articles onlineAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Thinking how it will be when I finish schoolAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Talking on the phoneAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking about a friend's good qualitiesSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going to the spa, or saunaCan Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Looking at photosAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking, "I have a lot more going for me than most people"At HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Taking a break from technologySpiritualPampering
Discussing booksAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Going window shoppingActiveSocial
Trying on/Buying clothesCreativeActiveSocial
Doodling/Coloring in the coloring bookCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Signing up to become a Big Brother or Big SisterHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Lying in the sunOutdoorsSpiritualCan Do Sitting Down
Spending an evening with good friendsAt HomeSocial
Thinking about having a familyAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Going skiingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Going campingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Creating an aquariumCreativeAt Home
Going to a partyActiveSocial
Writing a list of the things I valueSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going bowlingActiveSocial
Buying giftsActiveHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going swimmingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Riding a motorcycleOutdoors
Thoughts about happy moments in my childhoodAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Thinking, "I’m an OK person"At HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Listening to the sounds of natureOutdoorsSpiritualCan Do Sitting Down
Repairing things around the houseActiveAt Home
Recalling past partiesAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Going to a sports game (or rugby, soccer, basketball, etc.)OutdoorsSocial
Going to the hillsOutdoorsActiveSocial
Watching an online religious serviceSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Listening to othersHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Going canoeing or white-water raftingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Lighting candlesSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Doing crossword puzzlesAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Thinking about my past tripsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Singing with groupsCreativeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Making a smoothie and drinking it slowlyAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Cooking, bakingCreativeAt Home
Binge-watching that trashy TV show I’ve been thinking about starting.At HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Reading cards others have written to meAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Smiling at a strangerHelping OthersCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Jogging, walkingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Getting/giving a massageHelping OthersAt HomeSocialPampering
Helping someone who is struggling with chores, meals, etc.Helping OthersSocial
Joining or forming a bandCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Playing squashActiveSocial
Selling or trading somethingAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Fantasizing about the futureAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Having coffee at a cafeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Having discussions with friendsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Making jigsaw puzzlesAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Buying household gadgetsAt Home
Going rock climbingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Going to church, praying (practising religion)SpiritualCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Making a gift for someoneCreativeHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going hikingOutdoorsActive
Sketching, paintingCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Writing diary/journal entries or lettersCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Playing cardsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Going bike ridingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Early morning coffee and newspaperAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going out to dinnerCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Playing soccerOutdoorsActiveSocial
Dressing up and looking niceCreativeAt HomePampering
Doing embroidery, cross stitchingCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Taking the afternoon off of work/schoolAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Taking a "stay-cation" (or a vacation!)OutdoorsActiveAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Playing musical instrumentsCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Getting a haircutCan Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Remembering the words and deeds of loving peopleAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Finding ways to practice compassion with othersSpiritualHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Buying a bag of my favorite candy and eat one piece a day until the month is over.Can Do Sitting DownPampering
Doing woodworkingCreativeSocial
Planning to go to school or universityAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Refinishing furnitureCreativeAt Home
Shooting poolActiveSocial
Writing books (poems, articles)CreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Arranging flowersCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Researching volunteer opportunitiesHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
DaydreamingAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Smelling my favorite essential oils or candlesSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Working on my carOutdoorsCreativeActive
Getting a manicureCan Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Thinking “I did that pretty well” after doing somethingAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
EatingAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going to the hairdresserCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Going to the beachOutdoorsActiveSpiritual
Taking a long and leisurely bubble bath.At HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
WorkingCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking about becoming active in the communityAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Having lunch with a friendOutdoorsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Taking children placesOutdoorsActiveHelping OthersSocial
Going for a driveCan Do Sitting Down
Having a political discussionAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking religious thoughtsSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Working on my car/bicycleOutdoorsActive
Going to plays and concertsOutdoorsCreativeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking, "I’m a person who can cope"At HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
DancingCreativeActiveSpiritualAt Home
Going horseback ridingOutdoorsActiveSocial
PhotographyOutdoorsCreativeAt Home
MeditatingSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Singing around the houseCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Buying things for myself in the storeActivePampering
Going to clubs (garden, sewing, etc.)CreativeActiveSocial
Thrift store shoppingCreativeActiveSocial
Going downtown or to a shopping mallOutdoorsActiveSocial
Going birdwatchingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Donating something I don't useHelping Others
Creating a care package for someone I care about (i.e. best friend, mom, dad, sibling, mentor, etc.)CreativeHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Planning a careerAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Fighting for a causeSpiritualHelping OthersSocial
Thinking about getting marriedAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Flying kitesOutdoorsActiveSocial
Collecting things (coins, shells, etc.)CreativeAt Home
Going to the local ice cream parlor and indulging in an ice cream cone or sundae.SocialPampering
Meeting new peopleSocial
Doing ballet, jazz/tap dancingCreativeActiveSocial
Practising karate, judo, yogaOutdoorsActiveSpiritualAt HomeSocial
Thinking about my good qualitiesAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Reading fictionCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Star gazingOutdoorsCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Rearranging the furniture in my houseActiveAt Home
Visiting people who are sick, shut in, or in troubleActiveHelping OthersSocial
Thinking about retirementAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Going on a picnicOutdoorsCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Reading non-fictionAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
CleaningActiveAt Home
Going to the libraryCan Do Sitting Down
Conducting experimentsCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Thinking about buying thingsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Making a card and giving it to someone I care aboutCreativeSpiritualHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
DrivingCan Do Sitting Down
Solving riddles mentallyAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Saying “I love you”Helping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Watching my children (play)OutdoorsAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Composing or arranging songs or musicCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going to a movieCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Learning to do something new (i.e. new language, craft, game, etc.)CreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Throwing a barbecueOutdoorsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Playing tennisOutdoorsActiveSocial
Watching movies or videosCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Making lists of tasksAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Remembering beautiful sceneryAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Planning a career changeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Listening to the radioAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Texting a friend out of the blueHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Playing video/computer gamesAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Buying, selling stocks and sharesAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Travelling to national parksOutdoorsActiveSocial
Going to a fair, carnival, circus, zoo, or amusement parkOutdoorsActiveSocial
Buying things for myself onlineAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Teaching a skill I knowHelping OthersSocial
Listening to musicCreativeSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Reflecting on how I’ve improvedSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Going sailingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Buying a meal for a homeless personHelping OthersSocial
Going to museums, art galleriesCreativeActiveSocial
Going on a dateOutdoorsActiveAt HomeSocial
Going ice skating, roller skating/bladingOutdoorsActiveSocial
Donating food to a food pantryHelping Others
KissingAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Playing volleyballOutdoorsActiveSocial
SleepingAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Playing a board gameAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Thinking about my achievementsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownThinking/Imagination
Thinking of 3 things I am grateful forSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Going to my favorite deli, ordering my favorite sandwich, and having it for lunch someplace outside.Can Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Reading a book of spiritual quotes/teachingsSpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Watching stand-up on YouTubeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Knitting/crocheting/quiltingCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Making a donation to charity (even if it's small!)Helping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Buying booksActiveAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Doing arts and craftsCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Having quiet eveningsAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Playing with my petsHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Taking care of my plantsOutdoorsCreativeActiveAt Home
Planning partiesCreativeHelping OthersAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
ExercisingOutdoorsActiveAt HomeSocialPampering
Travelling abroad, interstate or within the stateOutdoorsActiveSocial
Listening to an audiobook (try Audible or Librivox)At HomeCan Do Sitting DownPampering
Watching a movie from IMBD's list of 100 top-rated filmsAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocialPampering
Taking an online classAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Planning a tripCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Video chatting with a friendAt HomeCan Do Sitting DownSocial
Watching a TED Talk (check out Brene Brown, Dan Gilbert, or Dan Pink)SpiritualAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Learning to play a musical instrumentCreativeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Learning how to codeAt HomeCan Do Sitting Down
Decluttering my closetActiveAt Home



Find care providers medication suggestions and more.

Getting appropriate care while dealing with depression can be daunting at first, but it is often the first step toward recovery. Finding the right provider and the appropriate level of treatment, though, can be difficult, because of financial constraints, concerns about the provider’s ability to care for your specific needs, and many other factors.

Below you’ll find information for finding a mental health provider who can more effectively meet your needs. You’ll also find important information about different levels of care, along with types of treatment available.

General Information Regarding Care for Depression

How to Know When to Seek Care for Depression

While you are ultimately the judge of when it makes sense to seek care for depression, there are two questions to ask yourself: 


  • Distress: How upset are you feeling about what you’re experiencing? How intense are your unwanted emotions (sadness, numbness, hopelessness, etc.), and how frequent are they?
  • Impairment: How much is the depression getting in the way of things you want to do (or used to want to do – such as spend time with friends, or do a favorite hobby), or need to do (such as do schoolwork or go to work).

If you’re still unsure about what to do, this depression screening from Mental Health America might help to clarify things.


While it is easy to ignore your feelings, distract yourself from depression, or convince yourself that what you’re feeling isn’t “that bad,” prolonging your struggle often makes things worse. Getting help is a sign of strength. Professional support can help you to feel better, and the resources on this page can help with accessing the right support for you. Want more info? Check out our article on seeking help when depressed.



Types of Mental Health Providers

Psychiatrist / Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Psychiatrists: Medical doctors (MD/DO) who can prescribe medication to their patients. Some also offer psychotherapy.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners: can also diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe medication. Depending on the state, some may practice independently, others may need to practice under the oversight of a medical doctor.




Psychologists have doctoral degrees (PhD or PsyD) and have significant training in understanding how the mind and behavior correspond.

PhD: doctoral degree that tends to have a significant research focus in addition to clinical skills training. The goal of having a PhD in Psychology is to advance the knowledge of mental health issues and methods to treat them.


PsyD:  a doctoral degree that is typically more clinically-oriented. People with PsyDs work with people who seek therapy or in more intensive settings. The focus of a PsyD is to apply scientific knowledge directly to psychology practice.



Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

An LPC/LMHC has a Master’s in Counseling and a significant amount of training, along with a state certification. They can offer counseling to clients, such as ways to create a better relationship with mental health or strategies to cope with emotions.



Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW/LICSW)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers have a Master’s degree in social work and have had thousands of supervised clinical hours. Clinical social workers work in a variety of settings, from community-related fields to private practices. Like other Master’s-level clinicians, they can provide therapy, and their social work background may help them to develop a more holistic stance when it comes to treatment. 



Accessing Care - General

Have Insurance / Can Afford Treatment
  • Providers In-Network: Look in-network with your insurance to see list of recommended providers.
  • Therapy directories:
    • Zencare is a database of vetted therapists. Includes videos of therapists, insurance information, clinical specialties, and up-to-date information. Ability to have 10 min free initial consultation call with therapists. Only in some states.
    • PsychologyToday and TherapyDen are large databases of therapists in the U.S.
  • Contact local counseling centers to inquire about potential therapists.
  • Resource specialist: Contact resource specialists such as Resources to Recover, an organization that offers families affected by mental illness guidance, support and information on the best practices and providers in recovery-oriented mental health care.
  • Care Navigation: Work with a care navigation and support group such as the O’Connor Professional Group to find a therapist.
  • Out-of-Network Benefits: If provider is out-of-network, consider submitting a “superbill” to your insurance in order to possibly receive reimbursement. Contact your insurance to learn how to do this, or utilize services such as Reibursify or GetBetter to assist with the process.
Don't Have Insurance / Difficulty Affording Treatment

Don’t have insurance/have difficulty affording treatment? Try the following options:

Community Health Centers & Free Clinics
  • Contact a community health center and/or community mental health center. Find one here.
  • Contact a free clinic to inquire about services. Find a free/low cost clinic here. 
Private Therapists
  • See if private therapists are willing to work on a sliding scale (especially those who don’t take insurance).
  • OpenPathCollective – a non-profit nationwide network of mental health professionals dedicated to providing in-office mental health care—at a steeply reduced rate.
Teaching Hospitals
  • See about clinics where you can get reduced cost treatment from psychiatry residents and/or clinical psychology students. Call the psychology, psychiatry, or behavioral health department & inquire about sessions with graduate students, who are supervised and can provide services at a lower cost as they gain counseling experience.
  • NAMI HelpLine can be helpful for your treatment-related questions (M-F 10a-6p or email Can also consult local NAMI affiliate here.
  • SAMHSA is a government organization that maintains a database of low-cost treatment facilities across the U.S. and is a “go-to” resource for locating affordable mental health care nationwide. Contact SAMHSA at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or online at their Treatment Locator.
Social Services Databases
Place of Worship
  • Local place of worship (if applicable) may offer counseling from a trained minister, rabbi, priest, imam, etc., which is usually free. Most are members of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors. If your place of worship doesn’t have counseling, they may have a fund available to help you pay for treatment.
Place of Employment
  • If employed, you may want to see whether or not your employer offers an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP). An EAP is an employer-paid benefit that is separate from your medical plan. It’s designed to help employees through difficult situations.
    • Employees usually can access counseling through an EAP for no cost, however there is usually a limit to the number of free sessions.
    • To check if you have an EAP, call the 800 number on the back of your insurance card or call your HR department.
Online/App-Based Therapy
  • Online/App-Based therapy can be helpful and more affordable for some people. Some options are:
    • BetterHelp, TalkSpace or 7 Cups of Tea, which charge a fee per week.
    • Real is a new online therapy platform for under $30/month that offers self-directed therapy pathways and virtual groups
    • Sesh offers online group support led by therapists.
    • Cerebral is an all-inclusive platform that includes psychiatry, care counseling/therapy, and medication delivery for one fixed monthly fee. Cost depends on how much care you need and can get a bit pricey, however if you have insurance it may be more affordable than typical psychiatry & therapy visits.
Treatment Scholarships

The To Write Love On Her Arms organization provides treatment & recovery scholarships to those facing financial barriers to treatment. Fill out a scholarship application here. 

Sources: NBCNews, NAMI

Accessing Care - Specific Populations

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)

General BIPOC
  • Inclusive Therapists aims to make the process of seeking therapy simpler and safer for all people, especially marginalized populations.
  • Melanin and Mental Health connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities.
  • The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) is a healing justice organization committed to transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC).
  • The Ayana Therapy app strives to address the strong lack of engagement between minorities and the mental health care industry by matching users with licensed professionals that share their unique traits, values, and sensibilities.
Black and African American Communities
  • Black Mental Health Alliance develops, promotes, and sponsors trusted, culturally-relevant educational forums, trainings, and referral services that support the health and wellbeing of Black people and other vulnerable communities.
  • The Loveland Foundation provides financial support for therapy for Black women and girls.
  • Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. It also has a directory to help with finding culturally-competent therapists.
  • Therapy for Black Men is a directory to help men of color in their search for a therapist.
  • The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation is an organization working to change the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging people to get the help they need. Click here for their directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the Black community. 
  • Association of Black Psychologists has a directory comprised of psychologists who lead healing circles related to racial stress and systemic oppression.
Latinx/Hispanic Communities
  • Therapy for Latinx is a national directory of Latinx therapists for the Latinx community.
  • Latinx Therapy is a directory of Latinx therapists. Enter your zipcode to search for a therapist near you.
  • Latinx Therapists Action Network. The Latinx Therapists Action Network Directory is a directory of licensed, culturally grounded, Latinx mental health practitioners who believe in the human rights of migrant peoples.
Native and Indigenous Communities
  • IHS Division of Behavioral Health addresses severe behavioral health issues that impact American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) individuals, families, and communities. To locate mental health programs in your area, search the IHS Healthcare Locator by checking the “Behavioral Health” under “Choose facility types.”
Asian/Pacific Islander Communities



Levels of Treatment

1. (Baseline Level) Treatment with Mental Health Clinician(s)

Receiving treatment from a therapist and/or medications from a psychiatric medication provider is typically the first-line of treatment when someone is diagnosed with mild-moderate depression. Find resources on this page to connect with a mental health care provider.

2. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive Outpatient Programs provide more treatment than typical once-twice/week therapy, but are for people who do not require a higher level of care, such as a partial hospitalization or inpatient. They may also be for people stepping down from a higher level of treatment. 


  • Programs typically operate for about 8-10 hours/week, but this varies. 
  • Programs are usually group-based, but you may also meet with a mental health counselor to address recovery post-discharge.
  • Many programs allow you to continue to meet with your normal outpatient therapist/psychiatrist while participating in the program


How to Find an Intensive Outpatient Program
  • Ask your care team for recommendations. 
  • Consult websites such as PsychologyToday or the SAMHSA Treatment Locator.
  • Simply Google search “Intensive Outpatient Programs + [where you live]” to see what programs exist near you. You may want to add the specifier “mental health,” as many of the programs are geared toward individuals with addiction disorders.


3. Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are structured to provide intensive psychiatric care that resembles that of a highly structured, short-term hospital inpatient program. PHPs involve active treatment that incorporates an individualized treatment plan involving coordination of services surrounding the particular needs of the patient. PHPs may be appropriate for people in-need of higher level of care but who are safe enough to go home, or for individuals who are stepping down from inpatient treatment. 

  • PHPs typically last for most of the day, every day, but you are able to go home afterward.
  • They typically consist of therapeutic groups, along with individual meetings with the psychiatrist, case manager, and (sometimes) therapist. 

How to Find a Partial Hospitalization Program
  • Discuss with your care team what level of care might be best for you right now. Ask them for recommendations. 
  • Consult websites such as PsychologyToday (use filters to specify search parameters) or the SAMHSA Treatment Locator.
  • Simply Google search “Partial Hospitalization Programs + [where you live]” to see what programs exist near you. You may want to add the specifier “mental health,” as many of the programs are geared toward individuals with addiction disorders.


4. Residential Program

Residential treatment offers high-quality, wraparound mental health care within a structured, homelike environment that can contribute to healing and a sense of community. As a longer-term option, people may be in residential treatment for a variable amount of time – some programs last for only a few weeks, while others can last for many months.

  • Residentials involve sleeping overnight in the home-like setting.
  • They allow more freedom than an inpatient setting – depending on the residential you are typically able to come and go from the residential facility as you please, as long as you stay within the confines of the campus.
  • Treatment varies depending on the residential, but may involve therapeutic groups, individual therapy, wellness activities such as exercising and art therapy, and more.
  • The vast majority of residential programs are not covered by insurance, and can be quite expensive.

How to Find a Residential Treatment Facility
  • Speak with your care team about places they recommend.
  • Consult the American Residential Treatment Association – they maintain a partial list of residential treatment facilities across the U.S. (NOTE: this list is NOT comprehensive and resources listed can be costly).
  • Contact your local NAMI affiliate to see if they have any recommendations for residentials.
  • Use the Psychology Today directory for psychiatric residential treatment centers.
  • Keep in mind:  CARF International is an independent, non-profit accreditor of health and human services.  On their website you can utilize their Find an Accredited Provider function to locate a CARF-accredited treatment facility.
  • Contact a resource specialist with Resources to Recover, an organization that offers families affected by mental illness guidance, support and information on the best practices and providers in recovery-oriented mental health care.
  • Google search “residential mental health facilities” to get an idea of what options there are. 
  • When vetting a residential facility, ask if they have any evidence to showing the efficacy of the program (few collect this data or share it openly, but it is still worthwhile to ask).



5. (Highlest Level) Inpatient Treatment

When to Consider Going Inpatient

If you’re able, speak with your care team about their recommendations regarding going inpatient.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you should consider hospitalization:


  • Have thoughts of hurting yourself or others 
  • Are seeing or hearing things (hallucinations)
  • Have bizarre or paranoid ideas (delusions)
  • Are so revved up or impulsive that you are doing dangerous or harmful things
  • Feel too exhausted or depressed to get out of bed or take care of yourself or your family
  • Can’t stop using alcohol or other substances in harmful ways
  • Have not eaten or slept for several days,
  • Have tried outpatient treatment (therapy, medication and support) and still have symptoms that significantly interfere with your life.
How Hospitalization Can Help
  • Hospitalization creates a safe place to allow severe symptoms to pass and medication to be adjusted and stabilized. It is not punishment and it is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • Only those you wish to tell need to know about your hospitalization. This is your health information and not everyone has the right to know about it.
  • You can work with professionals to stabilize your severe symptoms, keep yourself safe and learn new ways to cope with your illness.
  • You can safely stop using alcohol or other substances.
  • You might find a new treatment or combination of treatments that helps you more. 
  • You can get connected to outside mental health services upon discharge. 
  • You can connect with others who are also struggling.
How to Get Admitted

1.If you need immediate help (i.e. are in imminent danger of hurting yourself)

2. If you are not in imminent danger, consider contacting:

    • Your mental health team, who may be able to facilitate a hospital admission without going to the emergency room.
    • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) (or visit this website if you are located out of the US, or want a hotline more tailored to your needs (i.e. for LGBTQIA+ individuals, Veterans, etc.)
    • The Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
      • Both national emergency lines can support you in coming up with next steps and getting in contact with emergency personnel.
What to Expect During a Psychiatric Hospitalization
  • You will likely be on a locked unit, but may be allowed to leave the unit with supervision if your treatment team gives the “OK”
  • There are therapeutic groups throughout the day that you will be highly encouraged to attend.
  • You likely will not receive individual psychotherapy with a therapist, though some hospitals have this option.
  • Your care team will often consist of a psychiatrist, a case worker to assist with discharge planning, and a nurse.
  • There is no general rule about how long you should stay in the hospital. You may stay a few days or as long as a few weeks, depending on your specific situation.
  • You may have jewelry, personal care items, belts, shoelaces or other personal belongings locked away during your stay. You also may not be allowed to have items with glass or sharp edges, such as picture frames, spiral notebooks, paperclips, etc.
What to Bring to the Hospital

It may be difficult to gather all the necessary clothing/toiletries etc. prior to going to the hospital for an inpatient admission. The following list is meant to assist supporters in helping you with getting everything you need after being admitted. If you do have time prior to admission, you may also use this list as a general packing list, though you may want to check with your particular inpatient institution first.

*Click on the link to enlarge


Click here for a printable version.

Your Rights While Inpatient

– Voluntary Hospitalization is when a person willingly signs forms to be treated in the hospital. A person who is admitted voluntarily may also ask to leave at their discretion. Rules about how quickly the hospital must release you vary from state to state.

– Involuntary Hospitalization occurs when symptoms have become so severe that the person is incapacitated or might be a danger to themselves or others. Rules about involuntary hospitalization vary from state to state. In most cases, you cannot be held longer than a few days without a court hearing.


Your Rights:

  • You have the right to have your treatment explained to you, to be informed of the benefits and risks of your treatment, and to refuse treatment that you feel is unsafe.
  • You have the right to be informed about any tests/exams you are given and to refuse any procedures you feel are unnecessary.
  • You have the right to refuse to be part of experimental treatments or training that involves students or observers.
  • In most states, patients have the rights to fresh air breaks, visitors, receiving mail, and practicing their religion, among other rights. Make sure you read through what your rights are as an inpatient, or ask hospital staff.
  • You have the right the file a complaint if you believe you are being mistreated. You might want to request to speak with the Patient Rights Advocate, if your institution has one.

Occupational / Educational

Occupational / Educational

Discover resources for working and going to school with depression


Work and depression often don’t mix – it can be incredibly difficult to perform your best (or at all) at work while experiencing symptoms of depression. Find resources below for wherever you’re at- currently employed and trying to make it through, going through the job hunt while depressed, or unable work because of depression. Wherever you’re at, you are not alone. 

Currently Employed - Navigating the Workplace

Depression can make going to work feel nearly impossible, but there are some ways making things more manageable. Make sure to read up on various tips for working with depression, and know your rights as far as what protections you’re entitled to as an employee with depression.

Tips for Working While Depressed

Working while experiencing depression can feel next to impossible some days. Below are a few tips for navigating work while depressed. 


  • Break up tasks: it can be difficult to combat the lack of concentration and energy that often accompanies depression. Breaking up tasks into small chunks can be helpful. For example, instead of writing an entire newsletter in one sitting, try just writing one paragraph.  Then take a break if you need to, and try writing another paragraph.  It’ll be less daunting to complete the task when it’s broken up into smaller chunks, and you might find that once you get started, things will start to flow more.
  • Say no: Be sure to delegate tasks when appropriate. If you feel comfortable, consider letting colleagues know about your condition so they understand where you’re coming from. 
  • Speak about your depression: While there are potential downsides to being open about your mental health condition at work, if you are in a position to do so, it can be beneficial to disclose to coworkers and supervisors. This can help coworkers support you when you are having a bad day, for instance, and there also may be potential accommodations available to you (i.e. working from home). 
  • Personalize your workspace: Physical environment can have a large influence on mood. Lighting, temperature, colors, and noise all have the potential to impact your mental health. Try to make your space positive and comfortable – bring plants, pictures of people you care about, inspirational quotes, etc. If loud noises affect your attention span/mood, consider purchasing noise-canceling headphones to help. 
  • Create a wellness kit: create a kit of wellness supplies to help you cope with low mood while you’re at work. Examples of supplies could include: 
    • Essential oils of your favorite grounding scents
    • Stress balls/silly putty 
    • Ear buds for listening to a meditation or favorite playlist
    • Tissues
    • Calming teas
    • Instant ice packs (in periods of high emotional intensity)
    • Small journal & pen to write down thoughts



Know Your Rights as an Employee

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal law that prohibits discrimination against job applicants and employees with disabilities. The law applies to private employers with 15+ employees and state and local government employers. 


  • Though you must be able to perform the essential tasks of your job, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations. These are adjustments made to work procedures/rules to help you perform your job. Examples include:
    • flexible work schedules
    • reduced noise in the work area
    • regular written/verbal feedback
    • private, quiet space to rest during a break



Requesting Accommodations at Your Workplace

Though the ADA, you are entitled to reasonable accommodations at your workplace to help you perform your job duties (see “Know Your Rights as an Employee”). To request an accommodation:


  • Ask your employer’s HR department how to request an accommodation
  • Decide what type of accommodations you need & be ready to explain how they will help you do your job
  • Put your request in writing
  • Talk with your treatment provider (therapist, psychiatrist, etc.) to see if they can provide documentation
  • Take notes and keep a written record of any conversations you have with your employer (i.e. keep copies of emails and forms). 
  • Know that once you submit your request, your employer is required to talk with you about possible accommodations. 



Taking a Leave of Absence from Work

Sometimes, you may need to take off multiple weeks in order to cope with depression.


  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that allows you to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in the event of an illness (or to care for a sick family member), while preserving your job and benefits.
  • The caveats to FMLA:
    • FMLA applies to employers with more than 50 employees
    • You must work a minimum of 12 months for the same employer to quality
    • If you are denied FMLA, contact the Department of Labor to file a complaint. 


SOURCE: NAMI, U.S. Dept of Labor

What to Do if You've Experienced Discrimination

If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against because of your depression, there are a number of actions you can take:


Looking for Work

Being out of a job and living with depression is a really tough situation to be in. Congratulate yourself for taking steps to look for a job and know that you are more than your career. Below are a few tips for navigating the job search process while living with depression.

Treat Job Hunting Like a Job

Not having scheduled time can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression and disconnection. Try to create structure for yourself by setting office hours for searching for jobs and creating deadlines to work more efficiently. Make sure to give yourself frequent breaks to recharge, such as a walk outside or a call with a family member. 

Set Some Achievable Goals

Research has shown that setting and reaching goals has a strong inverse relationship with depression. Set small, achievable goals, such as sending out X number of cover letters or even something unrelated, such as learning a new song on the piano. Small wins can make you feel much better about yourself.

Stay Busy with Different Activities

It can be very tempting to stay in bed all day when you’re unemployed and depressed. After all, your former job was likely a large motivator in getting you out of bed each morning. Though you may not feel up for it, this could be a wonderful opportunity to learn a new hobby or volunteer at an organization you care about, in addition to your job search. Not only can you gain new skills and a greater sense of fulfillment, but staying busy can help ease some of your symptoms of depression as well.

Build a Support System

Being out of work and clinically depressed can make the hard days seem impossible sometimes. Looking for a job requires stamina and energy, and a strong support network can help you so you don’t give up. Friends and family can also remind you that you are not alone throughout this process. Make sure you reach out to your support network a lot during the job search process. 

Stay Organized

Depression brain can make it so that your memory isn’t the most reliable. Try to stay organized by tracking information like place you’re considering applying, where you’ve applied, what the outcomes have been, etc. so that you don’t have to rely on your memory alone for all the information. 

Know Your Rights

You are not required to disclose your mental illness(es) with prospective employers. The Americans with Disabilities Act considers clinical depression a protected disability, which means you can’t be discriminated against because of your depression.

SOURCES: NYTimes, TheMuse

Currently Unemployed & Unable to Work

In some instances, there may be periods of time when working becomes so difficult or treatment is so intense that maintaining employment isn’t possible. These times are incredibly difficult, but you can get through them. Reach out to friends, family and your care team for help, and look into the following national , which provide monthly income and health insurance for people who can’t work: 

Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (SSDI)

To qualify for SSDI you must have an impairment that prevents you from working for at least 12 months and you must have worked & paid into the Social Security program for a least 5 of the last 10 years.  To apply, you can go in-person to any Social Security office or file an application online here.


Things to keep in mind:


  • Your spouse and children in high school and younger can also receive your SSDI benefits
  • After 24 months on SSDI, you are eligible for Medicare benefits
  • You may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, too



Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

To qualify for SSI benefits, you must have an impairment that prevents you from working on a regular basis. Additionally, you must have a very low income and less than $2000 in assets.


Things to keep in mind:


  • Children can also qualify for SSI benefits if they have an impairment
  • A couple may not have more than $3000 in assets
  • Depending on your state, you may also receive a monthly supplement from the state
  • You are eligible for Medicaid coverage




Experiencing depression while in college can be a scary and lonely experience. Many students are far away from their support networks and may feel stress from increased academic workloads. Find resources below for wherever you are in your college journey: making the transition to college if your depression is already known, managing depression in college, requesting accommodations from the school, or taking a leave of absence if things get really tough. 

Transitioning to College with Depression

Transitioning from high school to college can be a big challenge, but especially for those of us living with depression. Having a plan in place for how to manage depression is an essential part of setting yourself up for success. 

Find Out What Mental Health Services Are Offered at Your School

Research what mental health services (if any) are available to students. For those that offer services, some important questions to ask the counseling center include: 

  • How many individual sessions are available per student and at what cost?
  • How long is the typical wait for an individual session?
  • Are there emergency or walk-in hours?
  • Is there a psychiatrist on campus that students have access to? If not, do they make referrals to psychiatrists in the community?
  • What (if any) group therapies are offered?


Figure Out The Five W's

Make a plan that consists of the 5 W’s: Who, What, When, Where, & Why

  • Who: decide if you’ll continue to work with your current providers (and how- in-person, via telehealth, etc.) or if you’ll need to find new providers. Talk to your school, insurance provider, or go to the Care Access page for help finding a mental health provider. 
  • What:  Think about what you will you do to help maintain your wellness. Therapy & medication? Mood-tracking apps? Group therapy? Support groups? Specific coping skills?
  • When: Figure out how often you will meet with members of your mental health team
  • Where: Determine how you will travel to appointments – especially if the appointment is located far from where you live. Also, if you take medication, find the nearest pharmacy where you can pick up your meds. 
  • Why: Remind yourself why it’s important to maintain your health and wellness, especially in college when it is easy to let your wellness fall by the wayside. 

SOURCE: Mental Health America

Managing Depression in College

Stay Connected

You don’t have to deal with depression alone while in college. Staying connected to others can help you feel less isolated. 

    • Keep in touch with friends and family. Stay connected to friends and family from home that you normally go to when you’re feeling low. Maintaining those important relationships is key to ensuring you have people to turn to during a depressive episode. Schedule a regular time each week to talk over the phone or video chat, or see them in-person if you live close enough. 
    • Talk to friends on-campus: It’s definitely scary to open up to new people about your depression, but know that mental health diagnoses are actually quite common. According to The Center for Collegiate and Mental Health, nearly half of college students have attended counseling for mental health concerns (1). It’s likely that whoever you talk to either struggles with a mental illness or knows someone who does.
    • Consider joining a support group or mental health club.

      Support groups can be a great way to get support and meet new friends. Many college counseling centers offer support groups, and Mental Health America has a comprehensive listing of support groups you could attend. Mental health advocacy and awareness student clubs on campus can also be a great way to meet others struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. Active Minds is a popular student club that promotes mental health awareness on campuses. 

  1. Center for Collegiate and Mental Health. (2015, January). 2014 Annual Report. (Publication No. STA 15-30).

SOURCE: Mental Health America

Monitor Symptoms

Keeping a short daily record of symptoms can help you see if symptoms are getting worse. College can be chaotic and can make it hard to notice changes in your habits (i.e. sleeping or eating patterns) and corresponding changes in mood. Don’t wait to seek help when/if your mood gets consistently worse. You can use a paper journal or notebook to track your mood, or apps such as Daylio or Moodily.



Maintain Healthy Habits
  • Try to exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and get between 7-9 hours of sleep/night. Definitely easier said than done, but maintaining these healthy habits can boost your mood and increase energy. (Having trouble finding the energy/motivation to exercise? Click here for ideas. Having difficulty making food? Click here for easy “depression-friendly” recipes.)
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs is also another very important healthy habit. While in the short term, alcohol and drugs might provide you with a mood boost, they can have very poor effects on mood in the longer term and are not effective ways to cope with stress. Try your best to limit or avoid use of mood-altering drugs/alcohol. 



Reduce Academic Stress

Make your life easier by using study groups, tutors, the campus writing center, and TAs in order to get the support you need in order to succeed in class. See if your college offers support with time management or study skills so you can study most effectively (Google “[Your School’s Name] + Academic Support Services” to see what they offer).



Requesting Accommodations

If you think you might need extra help from the school in order to do your best in classes, try to ask your school for accommodations ASAP before you face any serious challenges, if possible. 

What Kind of Accommodations Can I Request?

 The accommodations you request depend on your specific needs and what your school is able to provide. The following list can give you ideas for what types of accommodations you can ask for: 

    • Getting priority registration
    • Reducing course load
    • Substituting one course for another
    • Allowing note takers and recording devices
    • Being able to work from home
    • Getting extended time for testing and/or deadlines for assignments
    • Receiving tutoring or study skills training
    • Being able to take exams in an individual room
    • Being able to change rooms or roommates
How to Ask for Accommodations

To receive accommodations, you will need to :

    • Identify what types of accommodations you’ll need. (FYI, if you currently receive special education services, your high school’s IDEA-mandated transition planning will help you put together a list of needs). 
    • Register with the disability resource office. Often, the disability office can offer a selection of accommodations for you to choose from. 
    • Provide documentation. The disability resource center will ask you to document that you have depression. From your provider, you’ll likely need: 
      • Documentation showing your diagnosis
      • Types of accommodations that have worked for you in the past/ that you anticipate needing in college
      • How your depression can impact your success in college


After you request specific accommodations, the school may approve the request or offer an alternative accommodation if it makes more sense. Work together with your school to get the support you need. If an accommodation isn’t working for you, contact the disability office ASAP to try to find a better support.


Taking a Leave of Absence From College

Sometimes, depression can get so bad that taking a leave of absence from school is necessary in order to get treatment and address symptoms. If you’re considering taking a leave of absence, take the following into consideration: 

    • The policy at your school: contact the disability office or your academic advisor to inquire about the policy for taking a leave, what documentation you’ll need to provide and how long you are able to take a leave for
    • Class credits: You might lose your class credit or have to take incompletes and finish up your classes at a later time. You can also ask to retroactively withdraw from your classes if your grades suffered in the time leading up to your leave. Under the ADA, this is considered a reasonable accommodation. 
    • Financial aid: You may need to ask the financial aid office about whether or not you’ll need to repay your loans right away or if you’ll be given a grace period. Also, ask if any of your tuition could be refunded.
    • Returning to school: Returning to school requires college officials to sign off on your return. They usually consider how you managed your academic and medical affairs prior to the leave, your application essays, and medical documentation from your providers. Check with your academic advisor and/or the dean of students office to better understand this process. 

Can a School Require Me to Take a Leave?

Short answer: yes. A college can ask you to leave if they can show that there’s a clear risk you might harm yourself or someone else. If you believe your school is mistaken, seek legal advice. You can also consider filing a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.