Own your diagnosis

Coming to terms with your situation is vital to taking the actions needed to feel and function better, and to developing the resilience you’ll need to recover.  The experiences of others who have overcome depression can also provide useful insights.

Address stigma head on, beginning with yourself.

Despite all of the advances made to date in understanding depression, too often the disease is still stigmatized. Some sadly see it as something shameful. Misperceptions about depression are prevalent in society and reinforced by the media. But stigma can be overcome.

Perhaps the most challenging – and the most damaging – form of stigma is self-imposed. The stigma or shame many people harbor about their own depression poses one of the most dangerous obstacles to recovery.  But you can take steps to rise above shame. You can gain a more realistic and positive view of yourself and your diagnosis . Keep reading.

The antidote for stigma is education.   Accurate information is the most powerful tool you can use to counter any shame you may feel, and to deal with the uninformed and negative ways others may characterize depression.  By defining depression as an illness caused by changes in brain chemistry, and by learning as much as you can about your specific diagnosis, you’ll be less likely to be ashamed, less vulnerable to the misconceptions of others – and they are misconceptions. Regardless of whether you choose to educate the people around you, make sure you educate yourself, beginning by accessing the information on this website. 

Separate fact from fiction.

Many patients find it difficult to accept being diagnosed with a depressive illness.  This is understandable given the confusing messages and incorrect information about mental illness all around us.  The media regularly portrays people with depressive illnesses inaccurately and unfairly, Well-meaning family and friends may try to minimize or even deny the presence of depression, pretending it is just “the blues,” or ignoring it altogether, hoping it will go away.  This does not work.

These attitudes contribute to the stigma associated with depressive illnesses, and help support a perception that people with depression are abnormal .  The facts tell a different story. It is estimated that over 20% of women and 12% of men in the U.S. will experience an episode of depression at some point in their lifetime. That makes depression a more common ailment than diabetes or asthma.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a depressive illness, do not allow yourself to be dragged down or discouraged by inaccurate portrayals. Remember that depression is a relatively common and highly treatable illness, and that you are taking the necessary steps to recover and rise above it all.

Gain perspective.

Depression is a serious, chronic condition  requiring ongoing care to prevent recurrence. Facing that fact is essential to owning your diagnosis. But it’s equally important not to let the fact that you have a depressive illness overwhelm other aspects of your life.

When thinking about the role depression plays in your life, here are some statements to take to heart: