Family and financial stresses can sometimes cause the best of us to feel down in the dumps. However, during this latest economic downturn, these normal "stresses" have become a source of constant anxiety, frustration, and hopelessness for many. It doesn't take long for those emotions to pile up and sink the happiest of us into a deep depression.

Depression is widespread in the United States, and its symptoms can interfere with every aspect of its sufferers' day-to-day lives. Countless sufferers do not seek the treatment they need due to limited access to health care or other financial constraints.  No one should suffer the pain of depression, or any other mental health disorder or illness, alone. Below you will find many free or inexpensive resources available for those seeking treatment for depression or other mental health disorders. Even if you personally don't need these, chances are high that someone close to you does.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) – Many employers offer EAPs as a benefit to part-time and full-time employees. While specific benefits vary with employer, most generally include a free counseling session and applicable referrals for a wide range of additional resources, including financial advisors, child care specialists, and the like. Confidentiality laws also vary from state to state, but the identity of EAP users typically remains confidential to employers. Contact your employer's Human Resources Department to find out whether you have an EAP available to you.

U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – This federal agency's web site has a wealth of information that sufferers can review in their own home. Most importantly, the site offers an online treatment locator and phone numbers for 24/7 assistance. SAMHSA's web site also has a number of publications available for free or nominal cost that discuss various disorders, their symptoms, and treatment options.

National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) – The mental health division of the National Institute of Health's web site features general fact sheets on a number of psychological conditions and disorders. It also features links to a database of free and low-cost mental health care providers as well as information about current clinical trials for those interested in participating.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – This organization's web site provides a wealth of resources for members of the general public, including support group look-ups and lawyer referrals. It also contains specific pages tailored to the needs of mental health consumers, veterans, students, and children/adolescents. Visitors can also look up their state or local NAMI chapter and contact them directly for more location-specific resources.

Campus Counseling Services – Are you a student? If so, chances are high that you have free counseling available to you on campus. While browsing my alma mater's Counseling & Psychological Services web site, I found that they offer crisis intervention, assessment, part-time psychiatry, short-term psychotherapy, and various workshops, all for free. Contact your college or university's Student Affairs or Health Center for more information about what types of free services you may qualify for as a student.

Military Resources – If you are in the military or a military dependent, you have ample mental health and free financial resources available to you. More information about available resources can be found at these links: Air Force Suicide PreventionArmy Behavioral HealthCoast Guard Mutual AssistanceNavy & Marine Corps Public Health Center.

This has been a guest post by Amy from Virginia
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