A Depression Diagnosis: Now What?

Doctor and patient

If you have recently been diagnosed with depression, you probably have many questions. First, it’s important to know that you are not alone. Depression is the most commonly diagnosed and researched mental illnesses.

One of the first things to do is to talk with a health care professional. A mental health evaluation is crucial for your doctor to fully understand your condition. A physical evaluation, such as a blood and urine sample, can help identify any other chemical imbalances that may be depression factors.

Experts in diagnosing and treating depression also encourage patients to be open and honest with their healthcare providers in order to address any issues that are contributing to their depression.

The good news about depression is that is highly treatable. Lee H. Coleman, Ph.D., ABPP, a clinical psychologist, has many tips on what one should do after being diagnosed.

Coleman reports there are several avenues of therapy that can help, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps individuals recognize negative thought processes that increase depression. Another method of treatment is medication therapy. Coleman suggests using medication after trying other treatments such as counseling and therapy, but does acknowledge that using both treatments are proven to be effective in curing depression.

If you are using medication to treat your depression, Coleman encourages becoming educated in what types of prescriptions you are taking. He suggests asking your healthcare provider and pharmacist about what expectations you should have about the medicine, how long it takes to notice the effects, becoming informed about the possible side effects and how long you will likely need to take the medication. He encourages individuals to start medications on the lowest doses instead of taking an average dose, since every person reacts differently to medicines.

Another tip Coleman shares is to monitor your depression. Depression needs to be treated just like any other illness. For example, if you have high blood pressure, chances are your doctor will ask that you check it regularly to make sure the problem has been taken care of. Depression should be monitored on that same level, just as any other health issue would be.

Coleman encourages individuals who are undergoing treatment for depression to be patient, as therapy and medications can take time. Highly treatable and quite common, depression is not a diagnosis that patients should be ashamed or scared of. Taking your treatment plan seriously, along with seeking support from family and friends, will put you on the right track to recovery.

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