Depression: How To Cope After A Diagnosis

Updated March 22, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

After receiving a depression diagnosis, you may have more questions about what it means as it relates to your mental health. Whether you’re diagnosed with major depressive disorder or another form of depression, it is a significant step forward to acknowledge that you may need to seek professional support for your symptoms. Since depression affects people differently, it can be challenging to navigate without understanding treatment options and how to move past it.  

A Depression Diagnosis Doesn’t Have To Be Intimidating

Acknowledgment And Acceptance 

A diagnosis such as major depression can cause an overwhelming variety of emotional reactions. For some, it may be difficult to hear, even if it doesn’t come as a surprise. Some people feel shame, anger, and guilt because of their preconceived ideas of what a depressive disorder is and who typically has it. 

Feelings of confusion and powerlessness aren’t uncommon, and many question why their feelings don’t necessarily align with the definition of depression. Others may feel relieved to know that what they have been experiencing has a name. Some feel hopeful because they can learn options to help them feel better. 

Experiencing negative thoughts is normal, and over time, you will learn more insight into treatment options and how to adapt your life to manage your symptoms. Dealing with a depressive disorder is challenging, and it is normal for it to take some time to understand how your life may change and how the diagnosis may define it. As you know more about your diagnosis, it helps to acknowledge what you have done so far to get to this point. There is nothing wrong with seeking help. Doing so can help you realize you deserve better for yourself.

Show Yourself Compassion

While much has been learned over the years about depression, researchers are still exploring contributing factors behind its cause. It’s common for people diagnosed with depression to wonder if they somehow caused their symptoms to appear.  However, depression has nothing to do with personal character flaws or weaknesses. Several different things may contribute to developing depression, including things out of your control.

For instance, some people diagnosed with major depression may have a family history. Someone in your family may have dealt with similar symptoms. Some studies claim women are more likely to be diagnosed than men. A life-changing event such as the birth of a baby, career change, or relationship conflicts may lead to depression. Other medical problems, such as substance abuse or chronic pain, may cause symptoms, especially if you have an underlying health condition. Seasonal changes and how you view the world around you may be contributing factors for persistent depressive disorder.

Sometimes a cause is unknown. While it may help to understand what led to your symptoms, the important thing is to recognize that your mental health needs special attention.

Research More About Depression

While you may know the basics about the symptoms of depression, it is crucial to keep learning beyond that. You’ll want to review ways that symptoms may interfere with daily living. Learn about coping strategies – such as treatments, support groups, and self-help options. Gain insight into what to expect during the treatment process. Spend time making sense of your diagnosis to understand realistic expectations for your journey to recovery. 

Explore effective treatment options such as cognitive behavioral therapy and understand how they work. As you learn more about living with a depressive disorder, there are significant details you’ll want to keep in mind to guide you during your research. 

As you seek recent, credible information, consider aspects based on evidence. Such sources will have up-to-date information from researchers such as academic journals, mental health organizations, and other related resources. It may also help you gain practical ideas for overcoming personal challenges if you learn more about other people’s experiences with depression through community support groups, organizations, etc. 

Assessing Treatment Options

Even with a persistent depressive disorder, recovery is achievable with the right treatment plan. Upon learning your diagnosis, you may have questions about treatment options. Options may include a combination of medication and talk therapy. You may also make changes to daily living activities to reflect a healthier lifestyle. Lifestyle modifications can be natural cures for depression and are found to give better results in combination with conventional therapies. There are different ways to create a treatment plan for depression, and there is no one size fits all approach. It is vital to work with your doctor or mental health specialist to get the most benefits from your treatment plan.

Some living with a depressive disorder may need changes or adjustments to their treatments over time. It is a normal part of recovery because circumstances change, and you want your treatment plan to reflect that to ensure you stay on track. It may take time to adjust to your plan, and some parts may pass faster than others. Establishing excellent communication with your mental health specialist is significant because he or she will help you reach milestones and set goals.

A Depression Diagnosis Doesn’t Have To Be Intimidating

Your treatment plan will likely be based on the symptoms you experience.  If you have major depression, your plan may focus on improving your mood. If you have bipolar depression, your plan may focus on establishing a balance between high and low moods. Your treatment plan may also be based on your insurance and personal preferences.

Handle Your Diagnosis With A Plan

Create an action plan to navigate your diagnosis. Start by making notes of what you want to accomplish. Try to keep your appointments and take advantage of the time you have with your healthcare provider when you meet with them. If you’re diagnosed with major depression, assemble a list of questions to discuss with your healthcare provider about your condition. 

Your plan may detail other actions you will take to ensure your treatment achieves favorable results. Take notes on what tasks you’ll need to complete. Make a list of people to add to your list of supporters when you need someone to talk to. It may include friends, family, and peers from support groups. Other notable details to add to your plan may include when to reassess your goals and how you’ll practice and maintain the level of self-care that you need. 

Establish A Support Network

People with depression may isolate themselves from others. A depressed person may not want to be around others due to feeling shame or guilt, or it may be physically tiring for them to interact with others. If you expect to overcome your condition, social interaction is a must, and having a support network is critical when dealing with a diagnosis. Some people close to you may have already suspected you’ve been experiencing depression; let them know about your diagnosis. You may be surprised by their support and encouragement.

People with persistent depressive disorder may also find that support is a helpful motivator. Sometimes you may struggle to have a good day or to get tasks done. Having a support system helps to encourage you and gently hold you accountable for your actions. You’ll also know where to turn when you need help.

Relief And Recovery: How To Help Yourself

Your road to recovery may change as your needs change. Showing yourself compassion and giving yourself space to adjust to those changes is important. Things may take time to develop because symptoms may be a hindrance. It is the perfect time to review your living habits and start implementing changes to encourage results. 

Self-care strategies such as getting enough sleep, making changes to your diet if necessary, creating an exercise routine, and making social plans with friends are all ways to encourage progress. Think about activities that may lighten your mood or distract you when you feel particularly down. Some days you may feel low on energy, and that is okay. Continue taking prescribed meds and plan on attending upcoming appointments. You’ll still be moving forward even on days when your efforts are limited.

Soon you may notice your symptoms fading while other areas of your life improve, such as your energy, mood, sleep, and appetite. Take advantage of getting involved with people and activities you enjoy the most. Keep in mind that sometimes, negative thoughts you experience may be due to your depression and not necessarily completely rooted in actuality. It’s a good idea to keep a journal to record those instances to discuss them with your therapist at your next appointment. 


A depression diagnosis doesn’t have to keep you isolated and limit your quality of life. With some self-care, support from others, and regular therapy, you can cope with depression and learn to manage it effectively.

For some people with depression, it can be difficult to get out of bed on some days, much less commute to a therapist’s office, interact with others in the office, speak to the therapist in person, then commute home. Things that others would consider minor may seem overwhelming, and that can put a hindrance on your progress toward healing. 

Online therapy has become a popular choice for many patients because it limits some of those barriers to treatment and has been proven to be just as effective for treating depression as in-person therapy. Online therapy support allows you to speak to a therapist from the comfort of your home on your schedule online or via text, phone, or instant message. 

Adjusting to your diagnosis may take time and patience. But along with persistent action and support, speaking with a therapist who specializes in treating depression can help you feel better faster.

You Don’t Have To Face Depression Alone. Our Experienced Counselors Can Help.

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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