If you've just been diagnosed with depression, you’re probably experiencing a mix of conflicting emotions: embarrassment, confusion, fear. You may not even be convinced that the diagnosis is correct. Or you may have an overwhelming sense of relief — which was how I felt when I was first diagnosed. A diagnosis gave me something concrete to deal with, a problem that could be treated.
Now that you’ve been diagnosed, there are two things to keep in mind. First, having your depression diagnosed is a step in the right direction — you can now take steps to find treatment and get your life back on track. Second, remember that you are not alone. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 18.8 million people in the United States suffer from some form of depressive illness every year.
Since depression makes even the most mundane tasks difficult, the idea of taking charge of your treatment plan may seem overwhelming at this point. But it’s crucial to put all your available energy into educating yourself about depression and its treatment. The more effective your treatment is, the quicker you will get your energy — and your life — back. Below you’ll find a guide of helpful steps to take now that you’ve been diagnosed.
Learn more about your diagnosis. What type of depression do you have? If medication is part of your treatment regimen, the type of depression you have will determine which medication you are prescribed. The four main types of unipolar (as opposed to bipolar or manic) depression are major depression, dysthymia, atypical depression and psychotic depression.
Read our guide to understanding depression.
Learn more about your treatment options. You can then make a well-informed decision when your doctor recommends a course of treatment. Your doctor will recommend a course of either medication combined with psychotherapy, medication alone or psychotherapy alone. If you were diagnosed by your general practitioner (i.e., family doctor) he or she will probably refer you to a psychiatrist for medication and/or therapy, a psychopharmacologist for medication treatment or a therapist for psychotherapy.