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Tips on Coping with a Depression Diagnosis

A depression diagnosis can be a difficult thing to deal with. It can be hard to accept that you have a mental illness and need help. But getting treatment for depression is important. It can help you feel better and function better in your day-to-day life.

Whenever someone receives a diagnosis for depression, there may be an adjustment period of understanding their diagnosis, knowing what steps to take, knowing what their options are, and so on. Just as it is with any other illness, a depression diagnosis should be taken seriously, and a treatment plan should be established. There are many different types of treatment for depression. You may need to try a few different things to find what works best for you. Some common treatments include therapy, medication, and self-care.

Unfortunately, too many people who receive a diagnosis will not seek further treatment or support because of the stigma surrounding mental health. Mental health stigma is a very real and serious issue. It's something that needs to be discussed more openly and more often. There's a lot of shame and embarrassment associated with mental health problems. People are afraid to talk about it because they don't want to be seen as weak or crazy. This stigma is one of the main reasons why people don't seek help for their mental health problems. They're afraid of what others will think or say. We need to break the stigma around mental health. We need to open up the conversation and make it more acceptable to talk about.

Another issue is that depression tends to be seen as something that’s fleeting rather than chronic. Too many people believe that depression is something that you can just “snap out of” which is a dangerous way to consider an illness. Depression is a chronic illness with persistent symptoms. These symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

• Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness

• Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

• Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities

• Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

• Tiredness and lack of energy, so even simple tasks take extra effort

• Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain

• Anxiety, agitation or restlessness

• Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements

• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

• Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

• Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or self-harm

A few ways that you can adjust to a depression diagnosis are to accept that you need help, that this is not your fault, to research depression, and explore treatment options. Focusing on those first four steps can go a long way in your healing process. It can also be helpful to learn everything possible about your specific diagnosis as there are different types of depression and these present differently. Learning about your individual diagnosis will better equip you to come up with strategies to manage it.

First things first, receiving a diagnosis of depression should serve as a clear sign that you need help. It is important to acknowledge and accept this so that you can move on to further steps to find necessary help. You may feel shameful, confused, or angry and that’s all very common amongst people who learn that they have depression. You are likely to experience a wave of emotions. However, you can find relief in putting a name to your experience and start to understand that there is nothing wrong with seeking help. Once you're receiving treatment, you can start working on rebuilding your life. Remember, recovery is possible. With the right support, you can begin to feel better.

Also remember, having depression is not your fault. There are many factors that can contribute to the development of depression which are both environmental and biological, and plenty of those factors are out of your control. Depression is not a result of any personal flaws or weaknesses. Family history, largely stressful life events, substance use, gender, and more can all contribute to being at risk for depression. As such, it’s not something that you can just one day wake up and say you don’t want to have anymore.

If you are unfamiliar with depression, take a look at scientists have found, the current research underway and the best treatment options. It can be very helpful to understand the science behind your diagnosis. Just remembering that this is a scientifically studied condition is important for relieving feelings of guilt and lack of control.

Ultimately, your doctor will help you to decide what your best treatment options are, however, it is great to be familiar with your options. You could be a great candidate for medication or talk therapy or both. You might also simply need to commit to some lifestyle changes that are known to help with depression symptoms, such as physical activity and eating healthy.

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