Even though I am the Managing Editor of MakeUseOf, I have a huge disability in my life which is clinical depression. It started back in 2002, as a depression related to stress in my job, and it exploded in 2003 resulting in a mental breakdown and suicidal clinical depression. It was a very dark period in my life back then, and I wouldn’t have wished those symptoms and feelings on my worst enemies. Suicide was a constant thought and I credit my wife for being the one who convinced me that the ultimate solution was not the solution.
Clinical depression is, in essence, a brutal torture of the mind, a chemical imbalance in your brain, and because it is so silent and featureless from the outside, many healthy onlookers dismiss clinically depressed people as malingerers and lazy. I got my fair share of “pull yourself together” and “for God’s sake, put a damn smile on your face” throughout my illness, but thankfully I had a strong understanding support network around me and as a result, I got through the worst of it by mid-2004. I still have clinical depression but with the help of a good psychiatrist, and some good Happy Sweeties (as I call my medication), I can more or less get through life, and function as a nearly normal human being.
Since many depressed people are inclined to stay indoors and shun the outside world, the computer and the Internet instantly become their very best non-judgmental friend. Therefore compiling a list of online resources for depressed people (or indeed anyone with a mental health issue) becomes extremely important. Especially since it has been estimated that, in the US alone, 7% of the population has depression, with even Twitter users becoming depressed.
Here are 7 resources that I have found that I think are extremely good for those with depression.
When I was sick, I still needed money for rent, food and bills. Even though I was getting sickness benefits from the government, I still felt the need to earn a little bit extra, if only for the sake of my pride and feeling of worth. That was when I found the Disabled Online Users Association. The DOUA helps disabled people (and people with depression DO qualify as disabled) set up their own businesses on eBay and help them as much as possible with setting up auctions.
If necessary, you are assigned a DOUA member as a mentor to help you out. I was a mentor for quite a while and I made some good lasting friends from it. Which is what I needed at the time. The founder Marjie Smith, is disabled herself, but a lovely sweet lady with a big heart. You would be assured of a warm welcome. The DOUA has a great forum / chatroom (at least they did when I was last a member back in 2004-2005) so you can communicate with other disabled people who will understand you. Membership is free.
Depression Alliance is a charity based in the United Kingdom, looking out for the best interests of people with depression. They do this with the help of support groups, a penfriend scheme (so depressed people can get letters from a fellow sufferer who understands what they are going through), lobbying the government for better healthcare laws, and more.
The charity is supported by the famous British TV personality Stephen Fry, who himself has serious clinical depression, but these days, still manages to work. In fact, he is an inspiration to me as a writer, that he can accept depression into his life and still function successfully as a busy high-profile public figure.
Ah the good old WebMD. The site that everyone goes to when they have awkward itches down below or an unsightly blemish on the end of their nose. As you can expect, they also have a huge section on depression, and after telling them what kind of depression you have, it then shows you what is likely to help.
There’s loads of information here, including your treatment options, the different kinds of medication, other forms of treatment (such as therapy – which I personally have come to hate, but some people get something out of it) and “natural” treatments such as St Johns Wort.
There are countless advocacy and lobbying groups online that deal in mental health issues, and most of them won’t have real practical use to the day-to-day sufferer. However, it’s worth mentioning for a minute the Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance. They have support groups for sufferers, both online and offline, as well as numerous educational materials to read and download.
Coming back to the United Kingdom again, the National Health Service’s NHS Direct has a good section on depression, including a self-assessment test to see if you really do have depression (although the final diagnosis should always be done by a proper doctor, face-to-face, but this test would give you an initial result to work on). Plus all the usual information on symptoms, treatments, causes, and living with someone who has depression (which should never be underestimated).
The NHS also has a YouTube channel, which includes videos on depression. Here’s one of them -
Turning to YouTube, there are countless videos on the subject, including a lot of self-made ones from sufferers (mileage on those will vary). But there are also some good educational videos, in channels such as Depression Advisor and Depression & Bipolar Info.
For those who want a forum community to join, and lean on for support, then Depression Haven came very highly recommended to me. It looks to be updated on a very regular basis, with entries showing for today.
If you were to type “depression” into a search engine, or Twitter, or YouTube, wherever, you are likely to be overwhelmed with so many sites. A lot of these sites will duplicate a lot of information, so you have to see if any site offers something unique, such as a forum, a chatroom, or other support such as counselling.
Hopefully these 7 depression resources will serve as a good starting point, and if you know of anything else, please let us know in the comments, so we can keep the list going.
Image Credit: Kalex Anderson