A diagnosis of a mental health issue can come out of the blue, especially if you feel like you’ve never “struggled” before. This can be a big blow to how you see yourself.
Think about how you might react if it was a physical health condition. We seem to be much more accepting of the idea that sometimes we get ill. The only difference is that with depression, the problem is happening in the brain, rather than somewhere else in the body. Depression is not you – it happens to you, like any illness.
You might feel like this diagnosis doesn’t make sense and doesn’t match how you feel. However, the term “depression” captures a wide variety of experiences – one person’s experience is different to the next. Take a look at our pages on what depression is, types of depression, and causes of depression for a basic overview.
If you really feel like you’ve been misdiagnosed, talk to your GP first about it. Talk about the symptoms you’re having and how this seems to be different from the diagnosis made. If you’re still not happy with the diagnosis they’ve given, you also have the chance to ask to see a different GP in the surgery.
Having a diagnosis can finally provide the answer to your questions about why you’re feeling this way. There is also relief in knowing that there is a plan for your treatment and that things can get better. Finally, it can help to know that what you’re experiencing is something many people experience – you’re not “crazy” or “strange”.
You might feel like you should have seen this coming. You might even feel like in some way you “deserve” this. These are the kind of thoughts that depression can encourage. It’s important to take them with a pinch of salt. Nobody deserves to be ill.
Being labelled with “depression” can feel uncomfortably official. Remember, that’s all it is – a label. It’s a useful label to help professionals decide how to help you get better. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always going to have depression. Nor does it mean that you are just “a depressed person”. Depression is a part of your life right now but it is not all of you.
Do I tell anyone?
Many people will prefer to keep their diagnosis to themselves, because illness for them is a private matter. You might be worried about how people will react, or determined to “deal with things” on your own.
It’s ultimately your choice who to tell and who not to tell. You might want to take a look at our page on opening up to family and friends and barriers to getting support. These pages explore the benefits of getting support from family and friends, as well as reasons you might not want to, to help you weigh up your decision.
Am I getting the right treatment?
We’ve got a page covering treatment options for mild depression and for moderate to severe depression so that you can find out what treatment you should be offered. If you’ve been prescribed medication, you might want to look at our page covering common questions about medication.
What can I actually do about it?
It depends on the severity of your condition. If your GP has recommended things like self-help books and physical activity, then you may be in a position to make positive changes now. If depression is making even getting out of bed seem overwhelming at the moment, you may need to wait for medication or therapy to work before you can play a more active role in your recovery.
If you feel like you want to have a go at making some changes, but feel overwhelmed by the task, take a look at our page on getting started. It has tips on starting out small and making things manageable at the beginning.
- You have a diagnosis, and you’re getting treated.
- There are lots of people who have been through depression before and can share their advice with you. See our pages on online help and peer support for more information.
- There’s a lot of support out there that could help you if you feel isolated, are struggling with bereavement, or find it difficult to get out and about. Your support doesn’t have to be restricted to health care.