Lifeline Connections

Depression, Anxiety, or Drug Use: When Do You Reach Out for Help?

I mentioned before about parts of my life that were filled with anxiety and depression.  What has become a very important skill for me is how and when to ask for help. I don’t often think to ask for help because I just kind of feel like I should be able to get over it on my own. I think that I can pep talk myself out of it and go back to being productive- or my anxious mind tells me that I will unnecessarily burden someone else with my own problem.

The truth is, I’m not always feeling sad or anxious because of mental illness. Sometimes I am feeling that way because of many other normal reasons to feel sad or anxious. And during the times when I am living with a normal sad and anxiousness, I am able to talk myself out of it or change something about my lifestyle to cope with it.

However, there were times when it became highly necessary for me to ask for help. Maybe there was something inside of me that could have properly dealt with it, but I just didn’t know what that was at the time. Calling upon my external resources made all of the difference then and in the future.

You may not be dealing with mental illness, but you may be wondering if your drug or alcohol use is turning into a habit that will require some help. These signs apply to any situation where you need to assess how much help you need:


One of the first symptoms to look out for is length of time. Feeling depressed for a week after or during a difficult time in your life is normal. Feelings of mild depression for a short period of time for no apparent reason may even be normal. However, feeling depressed for longer than two weeks is a reason to ask for help.

The same goes for drug or alcohol use. An addiction to alcohol and drugs can be prevalent when the use is consistent and frequent. If you feel like you want to use constantly and you are preoccupied with thoughts about the next time you’ll be able to use, that is not a good sign.


Another time to think about asking for help with anxiety or depression is when the intensity of the feeling is strong or stronger than normal. You may not have consistent or frequent episodes of panic attacks, but even one panic attack could be a sign that you need to seek out appropriate resources for help. Many people go into shock when something dramatic happens like a car accident or when a loved on passes away. Feeling irrationally anxious may mean you need someone to help you process whatever you are dealing with. When it comes to depression, you many not have anxiety attacks, but you may have thoughts suicide or harming yourself or others. This could occur at any time or for any reason. See below on resources you can contact 24/7 for immediate help with crisis intervention.

Additionally, abuse of drugs and alcohol, even if it’s infrequent, may constitute a need for help. For example, if you can go long periods of time without using, but then binge when you do, putting yourself and others at risk, then you should ask for help. Even when the binging seems to be socially acceptable, such as with your friends, these times can make it hard to know if it’s a problem. Think about what happens when you use- do you often pass out, need medical help, or take risks you wouldn’t normally take? These are all possible reasons to seek help.


The last reason to seek help is if these feelings tend to interfere with your every day life. Do you find that when you are feeling depressed, you can’t bring yourself to leave your room or go to work? Do you lash out on people about things that normally wouldn’t bother you? Do your friends or family tell you that you don’t seem to be yourself? These are all reasons to seek assistance from a trusted source. Anger is another sign of depression or anxiety- even if you just think that you are quick to anger and can figure it out on your own, this might actually be a sign of anxiety or depression. Anger is a secondary emotion, which means that we use anger as a way to cover up feelings that are close to the heart such as fear and sadness. If you get angry often, it wont hurt to get help from someone to help you process what you are going through.

As for alcohol and drug use, do you seem to use during times that interfere with daily life as well? Do you use in the morning, or at work? Do you use before going out with friends? Do you use as a way to cope with feelings like sadness, fear, or stress? These are all reasons to ask a friend, family member, or mental health professional for help.

If you feel like you are in need of immediate help:

Suicide Prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255 or there is a chat function on their website at

Crisis intervention if you feel like you might harm yourself or someone else you can text START to 741-741 and they will guide you through your crisis.

For less immediate help, you may want to contact a trusted friend, family member, or religious leader. You may also want to seek out the help of a mental health professional in your area.

If you live in the Portland, OR or Vancouver, WA area and you think you may qualify for residential treatment, feel free to give us a call for help. At Lifeline Connections, we care about treating the whole person, not just the few things that plague you. We offer mental health treatment, detoxification treatment, residential treatment, and outpatient treatment in the Portland and Vancouver area. Feel free to give us a call or email us at 360-397-8246 ext. 7580 or

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