"We work to relieve and to prevent this treatable condition by providing information and support services."

Frequently Asked Questions

I think I might have depression – how can I get help?
I really need someone to talk to – who can help?
I'm worried about a loved one and want them to get help
I'm worried about a loved one and want to know how to support them
I have a question about my medication
There isn't a self help group in my local area, how can I start one?
I'd like to find out more about the online forum DATalk
I'd like to find out more about the penfriend service
I'd like to order publications and leaflets
I'm doing a school/college project and would like more information about depression
I'd like to volunteer for Depression Alliance
I'm raising money for Depression Alliance and would like a fundraising pack
I'd like to speak to someone at Depression Alliance

I think I might have depression – how can I get help?

Talking to someone you trust can be an important first step. Most people with depression are treated by their doctor, who'll listen to what you're experiencing and chat to you about treatment options. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest:

  • self-help(e.g. support groups, exercise, changes in diet)
  • talking treatments (e.g. CBT, counselling)
  • antidepressant tablets

Everyone is different so it can sometimes take time to find the right treatments and you might need to visit your doctor on a number of occasions. Don't be afraid to talk to your doctor if you feel worried about the treatment you're offered or if you don't feel it's working. It's about you and your doctor working together in partnership. If you're feeling very unwell and are worried about being able to express yourself you might like to try writing down your feelings and symptoms beforehand to take in with you as a prompt, or perhaps asking someone you trust to come along to appointments with you.

Taking the first step can be scary, but for some people it can be a relief to finally share things with someone else.

If you are having thoughts about self-harm or feel frightened that you are unsafe, you can visit your nearest A&E department and ask to speak to a duty psychiatrist. If you need someone to talk to right now, please see the contact details in our section below.

I really need someone to talk to, who can help?

Sharing our experiences can help us to feel less alone, and saying things out loud can often help us to make sense of what we're going through. Speaking to someone in confidence who won't make us feel judged can feel easier than speaking to our immediate friends and family. Try contacting the following:

  • The Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 or email on jo@samaritans.org
  • Saneline: 08457 67 80 00 (open 6pm-11pm)
  • Mindinfoline: 0300 123 3393 (open 9am-6pm)
  • Rethink advice and information service: 0300 5000 927 (open 10am-1pm)

Click on our Useful Contacts page for more information

I'm worried about a loved one and want them to get help

Being close to someone who's going through depression can at times feel extremely confusing and deeply frustrating. However, depression is an illness, and just like any other illness things can get better when all the right help and support is in place. For anyone who thinks they might have depression there are 3 important starting points:

  • Visit your GP
  • If medication is prescribed then take it for the amount of time suggested by the doctor
  • Make sure you attend regular follow-up appointments with your GP

A common symptom of depression is feeling as though things are hopeless and will never change, so don't be too surprised if your loved one initially feels reluctant to see a doctor. If they seem unwilling to accept help then try and be patient and take time to understand why they feel this way. The stigma and fear surrounding mental health can make things even harder, so be gentle and try and listen without judgement. It's worth also bearing in mind that some people may not realise how depressed they are, particularly if it started gradually and has been going on for some time.

With depression the idea of having to explain what you're experiencing can feel impossible, and the idea of treatments and medications can seem frightening and overwhelming. However, not everyone will need medication and a good GP will go through all the different options that might be appropriate. With depression the whole process of booking and attending appointments can feel very stressful, so why not help your loved one to make arrangements and then offer to attend the appointment with them. If they feel uncomfortable talking to their current GP then it's worth asking at the surgery if any other doctors are available, preferably one specialising in mental health.

For more information please visit the Friends and Family section of our website

I'm worried about a loved one and want to know how to support them

Being close to someone who's going through depression can at times feel extremely confusing and deeply frustrating. Often we can worry about saying the wrong thing, making things worse. It can be difficult to find the right words and to know how best to help.

Don't be afraid of talking to your loved one. Ask them how they are feeling. Whatever words you use, the most important thing is to let them know that you are listening and not judging them.

Depression can cause people to lose motivation, energy and often physically prevent someone from doing simple daily tasks. Let your loved one know that you understand this and try to be patient, giving them the time they need. Even small steps, such as getting dressed, can feel like an enormous challenge, so support your loved one to recognise daily achievements. Keep in touch with your loved one – send them a text, or give them a ring – just let them know that you are thinking of them. Depression can cause people to push away their friends and family so be ready for this and try to stay strong and keep in touch with your loved one no matter what.

If you can, encourage your loved one to visit their GP and support them to recognise they may need professional help. See the section above, entitled 'I'm worried about a loved one and want them to get help'.

If you are finding it emotionally distressing to support someone who has depression, then you may also need help from your GP. Don't feel afraid to ask for help yourself if you think you need it.

I have a question about my medication

Your doctor will be the best person to talk to about your medication. It can be tempting to ask advice from family and friends, but medications can work differently for different people so always speak to your doctor before making any changes to your treatments.

Here are some good reasons to talk to your doctor about your medication:

  • you're worried it's not working
  • you're worried about side-effects
  • you want to come off your medication
  • you want to try a different medication

It can sometimes take time for medication to start working, but it's vital to check-in with your doctor first if you want to stop taking it, if you're feeling better or if you don't feel it's helping.

For information on antidepressants, the choices available and potential side effects you can visit What you should know about depression.

There isn't a self help group in my local area, how can I start one?

We think everyone should have access to a self help group in their local area and we're always keen to speak to new volunteers. If you've been affected by depression and would like to find out more about setting up a Depression Alliance group please contact our membership coordinator Laura on info@depressionalliance.org

Self help groups are vital to our work and we can help you get started and keep supporting you along the way. The groups are about sharing support together in recovery, and while you don't need any special qualifications it's helpful to think about the following before you get in touch with us:

  • Do I know anyone else who's been affected by depression and who might like to facilitate a group with me? The more support you can surround yourself with the better
  • How will the group fit in to my life? Organising a venue, advertising, attending meetings and handling enquires can sometimes be time consuming, especially during the first year
  • Is there already a group I can travel to? It's often an idea to take part in an established group first to give you an idea of what's involved and how it works

Self help groups don't always have to involve sitting in a circle and chatting so it's often a good idea to think about other activities you might enjoy sharing with a group. For example, it could be walking, knitting, photography or music! If it helps you to manage your depression and feel good we'd love to hear about it.

I'd like to find out more about the online forum DATalk

DATalk is a way for Depression Alliance members to talk to each other online. It might be that there isn't a self-help group near you, or you would prefer to talk to others by email rather than face to face or by letter. Some members of DATalk have difficulty leaving their homes, and find the service a very valuable means of support. Close online friendships have been made, and those who use it often comment that it is a place where they feel safe and welcomed, where they can share their feelings, and where they know they won't be judged by the other members.

You can join in with the chat or just read other people's messages – until you post a message of your own no-one knows you are even a member. The service is completely confidential, only open to other Depression Alliance members, and is monitored by someone at the DA office to ensure it is running smoothly.

On joining Depression Alliance as a member we'll send you a welcome pack, which includes information about DATalk and an email address to contact if you'd like to be part of it. All you need to do is email us with your name and membership number, which will be in your welcome letter, and we'll add you to DATalk and help you make the most of the service.

I'd like to find out more about the penfriend service

There's something special about a handwritten letter. If you're maybe not a groups-person, would like to share support on a one-to-one basis and enjoy writing letters we'd love to hear from you.

On joining Depression Alliance as a member we'll send you a welcome pack, which includes information about the penfriend service and a short form to complete if you'd like to be part of it. All you need to do is complete and return the form to us and we'll get you started.

Can I join the penfriend service?

If your answer to all three of the following is yes then we'd love to welcome you to the penfriend service.

  • I'm a member of Depression Alliance
  • I've lived/live with depression myself
  • I sometimes feel lonely and would like to share support with someone who understands

We match penfriends who are of a similar age, and as all letters come via our head office you won't need to give out your address details, making it safer and more confidential.

Writing and reflecting on our experiences can help us to understand them better, and with the penfriend service you also have the opportunity to learn about depression through the eyes of a friend. Seeing a handwritten letter arriving just for you can be a real boost, and knowing that you're sharing that feeling with your penfriend each time you send a letter can feel incredibly rewarding.

I'd like to order publications and leaflets

I'm a member of Depression Alliance

When you join up as a member we'll send you a welcome pack, which includes a publications order form. Members can order one of each of our leaflets free of charge, so you'll just need to complete and return the form to us and enclose a payment if you're ordering more than one of each item. Non-members can also download the publications form here and place your order with us at

We're an organisation/we're planning an event

If you'd like to display or distribute our materials please contact us on publications@depressionalliance.org As a small organisation we may not be able to fulfil large orders at very short notice, but please talk to us about it and we'll do our best to help. As a charity relying on donations there's a small charge for non-members of Depression Alliance, and we hugely appreciate your support in helping to raise awareness of depression through our literature.

I'm doing a school/college project and would like more information about depression

Our website www.depressionalliance.org has a range of useful information about depression, the symptoms and where you can get help. It also has a list of books that you might find helpful to look at to research depression further. This is a great starting point for your project! If you would like any leaflets or posters, please see the section above, 'I'd like to order publications and leaflets'. We have also worked in partnership with Royal College of Psychiatrists at producing a series of information leaflets and they can be found by clicking here.

I'd like to volunteer for Depression Alliance

We love hearing from people who are passionate about raising awareness of depression, ending the loneliness and making a difference.

The best way to get involved and to support us is by joining up and becoming a member. As a member you'll not only be sharing support with others, you'll be the first to hear about new opportunities to get stuck in, have your say in what we do and contribute directly to our work in ending the stigma surrounding depression.

As a small, busy organisation we're not able to provide special volunteer placements, but there are a number of things you might like to consider if you're planning on contacting us.

  • would I like to start a self help group in my area or help support an existing group?
  • would I like to become a volunteer case study for Depression Alliance?
  • would I like to volunteer as a penfriend?
  • would I like to run the July London 10k to raise money for Depression Alliance?
  • would I like to organise a local wellbeing or fundraising event?

If the answer to any of the above is yes then please get in touch on info@depressionalliance.org and we'll reply as quickly as we possibly can.

Thank you so much for your support, each and every single person really does make a difference.

I'm raising money for Depression Alliance and would like a fundraising pack

Thank you so much for your support! Every penny you raise goes directly towards improving services for people who live with depression and anxiety. You can help us by fundraising in a number of different ways – click here for some ideas or email fundraising@depressionalliance.org for a sponsorship form. To help you to raise money Depression Alliance has a JustGiving account so you can set up a JustGiving page and link it directly to Depression Alliance (www.justgiving.com). Don't forget to remind any UK taxpaying friends and family to Gift Aid their donations, making them worth almost a third more to us at no extra cost.

If you've received cash or cheques from donors then please send a cheque made out to 'Depression Alliance' to our head office address, including a brief letter explaining how the money was raised so we can write to you and thank you.

As a small charity we're unable to provide DA T shirts or merchandising, but we love it when fundraisers get creative so why not design your own and send us a photo! We can email your our logo to help you get started. If you'd like to talk to someone about your fundraising ideas please email fundraising@depressionalliance.org

I'd like to speak to someone at Depression Alliance

Depression Alliance doesn't currently run a helpline, but the strength of our charity comes from the support and passion of the people who have joined us as members. If you would like to join Depression Alliance you can sign up online by clicking here. Alternatively you can call us on 0845 123 23 20 and leave a message with your name, address and any questions about joining us and we'll contact you with a membership form.

Although our membership base across the country is large, we are a very small staff team and so unfortunately we are unable to help with individual cases or handle enquiries about personal requests for help. If you need to speak to someone to talk through your situation, there are a number of confidential and free helplines that you may wish to try:

  • The Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90 or email on jo@samaritans.org
  • Saneline: 08457 67 80 00 (open 6pm-11pm)
  • Mindinfoline: 0300 123 3393 (open 9am-6pm)
  • Rethink advice and information service: 0300 5000 927 (open 10am-1pm)