You left the doctor’s office after being diagnosed with depression. They reviewed your genetics, symptoms and medical history and determined that you’re suffering from mental illness. You’re worried about your loved ones’ reactions and how this will affect your life. Will you have to take antidepressants for decades?
Luckily, you don’t need to figure it all out today. Managing depression is a gradual process that you take one day at a time. Progress might seem slow, but you’ll look back one day and see how much you accomplished.
What Are the Benefits of Being Diagnosed With Depression?
Getting diagnosed with depression might seem like a defeat, but it actually marks the start of your recovery journey. Here’s how a diagnosis could improve your life:
- You’ll have an explanation for symptoms that you never understood.
- You could start processing the issues that caused your depression.
- Doctors can provide better treatments because you have a name for your condition.
- You’ll learn that you’re not “bad” or “broken.”
- You can join support groups with fellow individuals.
- You’ll see that depression is treatable and not a death sentence.
- You could start making lifestyle changes that ease your symptoms.
- You may receive support from friends and relatives.
- You could request accommodations at work.
You shouldn’t be afraid to seek out a diagnosis. Many professionals use a questionnaire to determine whether you have a mental illness. Consultations involve minimal discomfort and could lead to the answers that you need to transform your life.
Can You Improve Your Life Going Forward?
While you might feel hopeless, medical research has discovered proven treatments for depression. Psychiatry as a practice has existed for centuries. Likewise, talk therapy started to draw attention in the 20th century. Some medications, such as Prozac, have treated individuals for decades.
Medical research backs up these solutions. A 2012 study revealed that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatments for depression, anxiety, addiction, bulimia and other disorders. CBT helps you uncover toxic thought patterns and replace them with positive ones.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Doctors often recommend a combination of treatments. For some, medication corrects their chemical imbalances. Others require talk therapy, inpatient stays or outpatient programs to recover. You’ll adjust your treatment plan as your needs change.
Medication can make your brain produce chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that create feelings of well-being. Some individuals experience a few side effects, while others have none. Your doctor works with you to find medication that treats your depression with minimal drawbacks. Your prescription might include multiple medications that work together during your recovery.
Individual therapy invites you to talk about your issues in a safe environment. Therapists provide objective third-party feedback so that you can view your challenges from a fresh angle. Group therapy creates a supportive environment where you learn how to handle common problems. You might stay in touch with your classmates after you leave the program.
Inpatient care lets you focus on your needs without distractions, such as work and school responsibilities. You’ll receive 24-hour support in a safe environment with group and individual therapy, healthy meals, spiritual programs and exercise periods. Programs vary for each individual, but they typically last from 1 to 3 months.
Outpatient care allows you to live independently while receiving mental health services. Programs typically last from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week. You can start with an outpatient program or transition to outpatient after receiving inpatient care. Some people return to outpatient programs when they suspect a potential relapse.
Supplementing your therapy with a doctor’s approval promotes overall wellness. You can explore spiritual hobbies, such as attending church or practicing reiki. Art, writing and music therapy provide creative expression. Other options include yoga, prayer, acupuncture and massage therapy. A support animal could help you navigate everyday life with your best friend.
Neuro rehab focuses on your brain activity to target physiological imbalances. Treatment starts with neuropsychological and EEG brain mapping to pinpoint issues. Afterward, transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) and neurofeedback training program your brain to function correctly. Experts monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration during treatments to see if they’re effective.
How Do You Manage Medications?
Your psychiatrist will prescribe medication after discussing your symptoms and asking if you have any allergies. Depending on your prescription, you might notice a difference right away or see changes within a week or two. Some medications come with side effects, such as nausea, headaches and weight gain. Your doctor might prescribe a different medication if the side effects interfere with your daily functioning.
Each class of medication interacts with your brain chemistry differently. If you don’t see improvement within a few weeks, your doctor might suggest another type. For some, a basic selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) alleviates their symptoms. Others require another class, such as dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Make sure you take your medication according to the prescription. Your medication might not work if you take it irregularly or skip days. Never stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first.
Will Your Loved Ones Support You?
Many people are surprised to learn that their loved ones support them. They encourage their recovery and listen to their needs. In fact, you probably have loved ones who have struggled with depression themselves. They might privately have sought treatment or didn’t realize that they were depressed until you brought it up.
Some loved ones mean well but make mistakes, such as saying ,”Why don’t you cheer up?” or, “Have you tried yoga?” Supportive people will listen when you politely correct them. Other forms of support include driving you to appointments, helping you pay for therapy or listening when you need to talk.
Unfortunately, some people don’t understand mental illness. You can prepare yourself for rejection or choose not to disclose that information. If they react badly, you might need a more supportive friend group because disrespectful people can hinder your progress. You could talk to them about depression, but ultimately, it’s not your job to educate anyone.
Seek Help When You’re in Crisis
Contact Restore Mental Health’s 24-hour hotline to discuss a depression treatment plan. Our services include inpatient and outpatient care, first-responder care and neuro rehab. We treat depression by itself as well as dual diagnoses that include anxiety or PTSD.