Empower yourself

Another key to owning your diagnosis is empowering yourself. You can be your own advocate.  That means taking action to develop and maintain self confidence and self esteem. The following strategies can help you to foster a greater sense of personal empowerment:

Take an active role in your treatment.

Throughout this website, the role you play in your own treatment and recovery is stressed again and again. Because each individual’s experience with depression is different, it’s important to become an expert on your illness and how it impacts your life. As an active participant in your own healthcare, you are advocating for yourself and taking responsibility for identifying the best course to feeling and functioning better.

Learn to speak up and ask for what you need.  

Work to develop the communication skills you need to help you state your opinions and needs clearly and concisely, as well as to listen actively.   Regardless of whether your requests are met, remember that you have the right to ask for what you need at home, on the job, and from your healthcare team.

Volunteer.

It’s gratifying to have the chance to make a difference in the life of someone else. Volunteering provides that opportunity, while at the same time helping to  increase your self-esteem and decrease stigma. It works.

Explore your creative side.

Expressing yourself through writing, art, music or dance is a way to express yourself while building confidence and fostering a sense of empowerment and self-worth.

Consider assuming a public advocacy role. 

Some people recovering from depressive illnesses are willing to offer their own stories as proof that harmful stereotypes are not accurate.  Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) can provide ideas and support for individuals interested advocacy on the local or national level.

Participate in research. 

We need to develop better treatments. Many individuals choose to be part of clinical studies as a way to make a real and significant contribution to battling the illness. Clinical research is essential to improving diagnostic techniques, making new treatments available sooner, and improving the quality of life for patients with depression. Patients who participate in research studies are empowered by knowing that they are making a difference for themselves and for others. To learn more about participating in research, visit Your role in research.