Mental Health Diagnosis: What’s Next?

Being diagnosed with any condition, including mental health, can be overwhelming. There are a lot of things to consider. It’s important to take the diagnosis seriously and begin to take action. Take a breath and have hope that you can get better.

Path to improved health

Below are steps you can take after a mental health diagnosis.

  • Process the information. You should allow yourself time to think about what your doctor said. The diagnosis may cause new or increased emotions. You may be angry, afraid, relieved, ashamed, sad, or in denial. Acknowledge these feelings, so you can better work through them.
  • Build a support network. Being diagnosed does not mean you should go shout it from the rooftop. However, you should tell those close to you. They can provide emotional and physical help.
  • Educate yourself. Prior to your diagnosis, you may or may not have known much about your condition. Now is the time to research and learn as much as you can. What are the facts about your condition? What treatment options do you have? If you need medicine, what are its side effects? What are the expected outcomes? Talk to your doctor more and ask for other helpful resources.
  • Check your diagnosis. Some people choose to get a second opinion. You should not feel bad about this. Explain to your doctor that you want to be sure before starting treatment.
  • Seek treatment. As you accept your diagnosis, you should talk to your doctor about treatments options. Do not assume you can get better by yourself. Find out what’s best for you and your condition. Options may include: medicine, counseling, therapy, support groups, and/or other programs. Treatment can help manage, reduce, or remove symptoms. It can greatly improve your quality of life. You also should talk to your insurance. They will tell you about your plan (what treatments may be covered) and the costs.
  • Adapt your lifestyle. In addition to treatment, there are lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your condition. If you are stressed or anxious at work, talk to your boss about how to adjust to meet your needs. This doesn’t mean they need to know all about your problem, but it may help. For many people, a healthy diet and exercise can make them feel better. Taking up a hobby or activity can help as well. Make time to rest, relax, and restore emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Things to consider

Mental health conditions often carry a stigma. Sometimes this can prevent people who have a problem from taking action. Remember that you are not alone. Mental illness is common and there are many people who can help. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to seek care and support. Treatment can help you overcome mental illness.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • How do I know if I have a mental health condition?
  • Is this a temporary problem or is it permanent?
  • Where can I go to learn more about my condition? What resources do you recommend?
  • Does my mental health condition put me at risk for other problems?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • Will I need treatment for the rest of my life?
  • What can I do at home to help me recover?
  • Where can I find support to help me cope with my condition?
  • How can I explain my mental health condition to others?

Resources

MentalHealth.gov

National Institute of Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness