How to Get Help for Anxiety or Depression

A young man stares at his phone, a slightly sad expression on his face. Above his head, the words "I don't have to tough it our alone?"

If you’re experiencing anxiety or depression, you may think that you just have to live with it or “tough it out.” The truth is that not getting help can have consequences beyond your thoughts and feelings. Depression and anxiety can affect your physical health and how you perform at home and at work. People who have other health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure will find them difficult to manage without getting help for depression and anxiety.

Even though many people have become more open in talking about these common conditions, some still find it very difficult to talk about psychiatric symptoms. They worry that they will be perceived as “crazy” or be pressured to take medications. Today, these fears are largely unfounded. Seeking help for mental health concerns is simply part of taking good care of your overall health. And if you are experiencing depression or anxiety, you are certainly not alone: in June, 40 percent of adults in the U.S. reported struggling with mental health or substance use.

The most important thing you can do is to take the first step. Talking to a primary health care provider (a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) is a great place to start. Primary care providers can evaluate your symptoms, treat your symptoms, and refer you to other professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists, if you need them. They are also good coordinators of your care. Think of them as the “captain” of your health care team.

Asking about your emotional health should be part of every annual checkup, but you can talk to your provider about your thoughts and feelings any time. You can even make an appointment just to talk about your emotional health. Starting the conversation is easy. You can just tell the provider what you’re worried about. You can just say, “I’m worried that I might be depressed,” or “I’m feeling so anxious that I can’t sleep at night.” Your primary care provider will probably say, “Okay, let me ask you a few questions about it.” It’s a conversation they have all the time.

If you’re worried that you might get flustered during your appointment and forget what you wanted to share, you can use this guide before your visit. But don’t feel that you have to “prepare” for your visit — just come as you are. Your health care provider is ready to help you.

Your mental health plays an important role in your overall well-being. Find out more about how your mind works, and how to help yourself and your loved ones through emotionally challenging times at ibx.com/knowyourmind.

Dr. Ryan Connolly, M.D., M.S.

About Dr. Ryan Connolly, M.D., M.S.

K. Ryan Connolly M.D., M.S. is a psychiatrist and behavioral health medical director at Independence Blue Cross. He is also a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. Dr. Connolly has worked to improve mental health at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health, and has published on the subject of improving outcomes in depression treatment. Dr. Connolly has received degrees from the John's Hopkins University, Georgetown University, and Temple University, and completed his residency training at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.