Why Talk To A Professional

Because your mental health deserves expert care. In a world where stress, anxiety, and life’s challenges can feel overwhelming, our team of experienced therapists is here to be your compass in the storm. Please don’t go through these struggles alone; let us help you find your way to calmer shores. Connect with us today, and together, we’ll work towards building a stronger and happier you.

Understanding Your Diagnosis

Getting a diagnosis for a mental health condition can mean different things to different people. Some may find it comforting and hopeful, while others might see it as just words on paper. It’s normal to have a mix of emotions when you get a diagnosis. You might feel relieved because it gives a name to the challenges you’re facing, but you could also feel worried and frustrated about being labeled with an illness. You might even worry that the diagnosis comes with negative stereotypes. However, getting a diagnosis is a crucial step in getting the right treatment and improving your quality of life.

How You Get Diagnosed
Unlike illnesses like diabetes or cancer, mental health conditions can’t be diagnosed with a simple medical test. To get a mental health diagnosis, healthcare professionals do thorough assessments, including physical exams and long-term monitoring to make sure there are no other medical reasons for your symptoms.

Once other medical causes are ruled out, you might be referred to a mental health professional who uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to give you an official diagnosis. This manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists specific criteria that must be met for a diagnosis, like certain feelings, symptoms, and behaviors over some time.

Why a Diagnosis Matters
Doctors make a diagnosis by looking at your symptom history. Mental health can’t be measured with blood tests or other physical tests. Instead, doctors rely on their knowledge to see if your symptoms fit what we know about mental health.

A diagnosis helps both you and your doctor. It guides them in suggesting treatment options and evaluating any future health risks. It also tells health insurance companies that you need medical care. And in some cases, it’s necessary to get Social Security disability benefits or job protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Even though a diagnosis won’t magically make your symptoms disappear, it’s a step forward in getting the right treatment and protecting your rights.

What to Do Next
Whether you already know a lot about mental illness or are just starting to learn, a diagnosis begins your education journey. When talking to your doctor about your condition, take notes so you can learn more about it later. Ask your doctor for recommendations on books and websites for more information. As you learn, you might find that some descriptions match your symptoms while others don’t, and that’s okay.

Focus on understanding your symptoms and the treatments available. While you might hear that serious mental illnesses can’t be “cured,” effective treatment can reduce or even eliminate your symptoms. A diagnosis is the key to getting the right treatment; it’s not a life sentence.

If you haven’t connected with a support group, now is a good time to reach out to people who share your condition. These groups provide support and advice from those who are successfully managing mental illnesses.

What If You Disagree with Your Diagnosis
After learning more about your condition, you might have questions or concerns about your diagnosis. How do your symptoms fit with this diagnosis rather than another one? Could it be something else? What if it’s a physical issue or a misunderstanding?

It’s important to feel like your doctor explored all possibilities. If you have a different perspective on your diagnosis, it doesn’t mean you should stop working with your healthcare provider. Your doctor knows your symptoms well, and the diagnosis is just a tool to help you and your doctor address those symptoms. If possible, consider continuing to work with a doctor who understands your case.

Focus on how well you can work together with your doctor instead of insisting on a specific diagnosis. When you talk about your concerns, does your doctor listen to you, answer your questions, show empathy, and understand your goals? What treatment does your doctor suggest to help you reach those goals?

Consider the idea of “agreeing to disagree” about the exact diagnosis while being open to trying the doctor’s recommendations for a certain period.

Reassessing Your Diagnosis
The value of a diagnosis depends on the treatment it leads to. Whether you have confidence in your diagnosis or not, it’s important to regularly check how you’re doing.

After receiving treatment for a while, it’s a good idea to meet with your doctor to see how things are going. Think about how the treatment has affected your condition, whether it’s been positive or negative. If the treatment isn’t working well, you can consider alternative treatments or revising your diagnosis.

A mental health professional makes the best diagnosis they can with the information available. As you work together over time, they will keep observing, listening, and gathering new data to refine your diagnosis. Your diagnosis is just the start of a journey to improve your life.