Build a Support Team

Fighting depression requires a team approach.

As men we often feel we should be able to handle whatever life throws at us on our own, but some problems are best dealt with as a team. Recovering from depression becomes much easier – and more effective – when we bring other people to our side.

When we’re struggling with symptoms like depressed mood, lack of concentration, and low energy, talking with anyone may seem like the last thing we want to do, but we have to resist the urge to pull away and isolate ourselves.

With depression we often get stuck ruminating on negative thoughts, but simply reaching out and talking about how we are doing can often break this cycle. Talking and sharing our problems with others can take a huge weight off our shoulders and reduce the intensity of the feelings we have.

The people we reach out to are often glad we trusted them to open up. Our reaching out also sets an example for others that it’s O.K. to reach out, normalizing depression so we can all better support each other.

There are several options for reaching out, and the more ways we can, the better.

Common Stumbling Blocks

Think of fighting depression like rowing a boat – we may be able to manage to row ourselves to shore solo, but it would take a long time and leave us exhausted, or it may prove too difficult. Rowing with a team will get us to our destination much more quickly and efficiently.

Not feeling like we’re worth the trouble

The people who we are close with care about us, and will want to help support us in our recovery.

Wanting to figure it out on our own

There is no need for us to struggle through pain on our own. Consulting others for guidance is taking control of our health.

Shame and worry about what others will think of us

Reaching out is a sign of strength and the people close to us will recognize this.

This section provides guides on different ways to reach out.

When to talk to a friend

  • When our behaviour is affecting our friendships/relationships (and we need to let them know what’s going on)
  • When we need help with everyday things
  • When we need more social support
  • When we need support from someone outside of medical appointments

Sometimes family and friends won’t know what to say when we open up about depression – and that’s okay. Family and friends will do what they can to support us, but they may not have the skills or experience to help us fight depression.

When to talk to a professional

  • When we don’t have someone close that we trust
  • When our symptoms are interfering with day-to-day life
  • When we want to talk to someone with more specialized mental health knowledge
  • When we want to talk to someone anonymously
  • When we need objective feedback from someone who’s not involved in a situation or issue

Guides to Building a Support Team

This section of the site is divided up into the five guides below, with practical tips and advice on different resources and treatment options.

Friends and Family

Humans are social creatures, and social connection is an important factor in maintaining our mental and physical health.[1]

Opening up to family and friends lets them know what we’re going through, helping them understand our behaviour so they can better support us. Friends can usually tell when something is going on, and may be waiting for us to give them permission to help or to let them know how best to do so.

Many men fear that talking about depression will place an emotional burden on those they look to for support. However, this is rarely the case – it’s more likely that depression is affecting our thoughts and biasing us towards negative assumptions. Starting a conversation with friends and family also offers them an opportunity to share their experiences as well.

Talking to others can also flip them from being someone we hide things from (and a source of stress) to a valuable part of our support team.

Family Doctors

The most straightforward and immediate way to seek professional support is by consulting a family doctor. A family doctor can:

  • Evaluate symptoms and contributing factors (and rule out other possible causes, including medical conditions)  
  • Discuss and help us navigate available treatment options
  • Refer us to more specialized mental health professionals 

If you haven’t spoken to a doctor about your mental health before, it can be confusing to know where to start. To learn what to expect and get ideas about what to ask, see our Guide to Consulting a Doctor.

Mental Health Professionals

These are people with the skills and training to support us in our fight against depression. Professionals can help us better understand depression, ourselves, and build new skills to help manage our health.

There are a variety of mental health professionals we may come across and get support from.

This guide provides an overview of who’s who, with information on therapists, counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. and how to access them.

Treatment Options

Depression is a serious illness, so we want to get help from qualified professionals.

Getting treatment for depression can be a confusing process as there are lots of people out there promoting products and lifestyle strategies to fight depression – but not all of these people are trained in mental health, and many products or treatments haven’t been well researched and tested.

This guide provides an overview of treatment options including therapy, medication, self-help strategies, and other complementary and alternative approaches. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to.

In a crisis

Dealing with depression can be an overwhelming experience and it’s common to lose hope or stop believing in recovery. Depression can make us think and act in ways we normally wouldn’t.

If we’re no longer able to care for ourselves, are thinking of hurting ourselves, or hurting someone else – it’s critical to reach out and get support as soon as possible.

This guide will help us decide who best to reach out to and how to get the support we need.


  • Louise C. Hawkley, Ph.D., John T. Cacioppo, Ph.D., Loneliness Matters: A Theoretical and Empirical Review of Consequences and Mechanisms, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 40, Issue 2, October 2010, Pages 218–227,