I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you!
Where you start varies a lot. I know about the US, and almost nothing about other countries, so anything I tell you is US-specific.
If you're employed and you have medical insurance through your employer, you should get a copy of the information on your coverage. It should have a list of psychiatrists you can work with. If it doesn't, and/or you don't feel comfortable asking your HR person or supervisor about it, you should see your General Practitioner, tell them what is going on, and ask for a referral to a psychiatrist. I would then work with the psychiatrist to figure out how to go forward: whether medication, therapy, or a combination of the two is the best approach.
I strongly recommend having your treatment handled by a psychiatrist and not a GP, because they are usually much better prepared to handle mental health issues.
If you don't have medical coverage, or really crappy medical coverage, I would contact a local org dedicated to helping folks with mental health issues. I have had extremely good experiences with my local chapter of Mental Health America. They don't have chapters everywhere in the US, though, so you may need to do research for your area. You can always call MHA, or you can also check out the resources listed on the Ask For Help web site.
That's my experience, which is again very US-specific. I hope this helps! If you need more assistance, just ask.
Yesterday I released the Mental Health in Tech Survey. My intent is to get an idea of how mental health is treated in the tech workplace. With this information, we should be better able to identify areas of need and address them. I'm particularly interested in the workplace, because I believe that making the workplace a safe place to discuss mental health issues will have the most impact on the tech/developer community.
In just the first day we had nearly 700 responses. This is pretty amazing, and I'm really excited about the information we can gather from this.
When things settle down a bit, I will try to make some pretty graphs and draw some conclusions about what tech companies can do to make their workplaces safe to discuss mental health. I’ll probably use much of it in my talks, and will release all data under a CC license.
I would like to strongly encourage everyone to share this survey with your colleagues. Send it to your team lead, your CTO, your CEO, and ask them to share it with everyone. Every response makes a difference. I want everyone's experiences to be represented.
I am already aware that the survey doesn't address self-employed folks well, and the questions are US-centric, because health coverage is typically tied to employment in the US. Please don't let that dissuade you from taking the survey. You will not skew results or otherwise mess things up -- I will account for these issues in the analysis.
Please take the survey now, and share it!
The only way we’re going to overcome this stigma is if the rest of the world sees that depression isn’t something that happens to anonymous, crazy, already-lost “other” people, but to coworkers and in-laws and mentors. That maybe the brightest lights in their own lives shine so brightly because they know if they don’t that the darkness will win — but god, there may be days when the work they put into finding a single smile is more than you’ve done all year on anything.
I don’t want your pity. I’d like support, and more than anything, I’d like awareness. I’d like to live in a world, where I can say, “Hey, I’m bipolar” without people looking at me like I’m a leper. I’d like to know that generations that come after us won’t be judged, or scared, or guilty, for having this sickness. One where they can seek help as easily and freely as people do when they have readily visible illnesses.
It is not surprising that most mental illness goes untreated. While most people with physical illness are in treatment, this is true for fewer than one in three people with mental illness. This figure applies throughout the advanced world, and even for major depressions the figure is under a half in Britain, the USA, and continental Europe. If your pancreas is not working you automatically get treatment, but if your mind has been disordered for decades you do not.
Imagine you called 911 in excruciating pain, and they sent police officers to your door, sirens blaring, to haul you off in handcuffs. Imagine you were in recovery from a serious illness, and your call for help got you fired from your job. Imagine you were a college student whose medical close call got you kicked out of school. For millions of suicidal people, these scenarios are not imaginary. Every year, people who attempt suicide, or express an urge to do so, are treated like criminals, fired from their jobs, kicked out of college, or even prevented from crossing the border.