Understanding Your Diagnosis

Often times, people with mental health conditions experience relief and hope once they get a proper diagnosis; however, others may feel like getting a diagnosis is “just words.”

It is also quite common to feel conflicting emotions. You may feel relief because you can put a name to the things that have been bothering you, but at the same time fear and anger that you have a mental illness. You may feel that the diagnosis you received carries negative or damaging perceptions; however, getting a diagnosis is a useful step in receiving effective treatment and improving your quality of life.

Getting a Diagnosis:

Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test that can provide a diagnosis of mental illness. A healthcare professional can do a number of things in an evaluation including a physical exam and long-term monitoring to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Once other medical conditions are ruled out, it is likely to be referred to a mental health professional that will use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), to make a diagnosis. The DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists criteria including feelings, symptoms, and behaviors over a period of time that a person must meet in order to be officially diagnosed with an illness.

Why a Diagnosis Matters:

  • The diagnosis is an important tool for you and your doctor 
  • Having a proper diagnosis means that your therapist can advise you on treatment options and future health risks
  • A diagnosis also tells health insurance companies that you have a condition requiring medical care. 
    • This also lends its hand in the ability to qualify for Social Security disability support, or for job protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Having a diagnosis is not the end and simply labeling your symptoms does not automatically relieve them. It is important to seek the next steps of care.

What Next?:

You may already have learned as much as possible about mental illness, or you may be facing the topic for the first time. In either case, a diagnosis is a good starting point for learning more.

Here are some tips on what to do once you receive your diagnosis: 

  • When your doctor talks about your condition, take notes so you can look up your diagnosis later. 
  • Ask your doctor to recommend books and websites with additional information. When you read about your condition, you may find your symptoms match in some ways and don’t match in others. This is normal.
  • Focus on learning about symptoms and treatments. You may come across discouraging predictions about how it’s impossible to “cure” serious mental illness. However, with treatment you can reduce or eliminate your symptoms. 
    • At Southern Live Oak Wellness, we believe that getting a diagnosis does not mean halting your life. Let us help you gain the necessary information and life skills to ensure a successful journey.
  • A diagnosis is a gateway to good treatment, not a sentence to lifetime imprisonment.

If you haven’t already found a support group, this is a good time to reach out to others with your condition. Here at SLOW we have a community of like minded individuals who are on their own mental wellness journey and we would be happy to introduce you to our community for further support.

How SLOW Can Help You: 

  • We have a team of expert clinicians that can help manage your symptoms and treatment 
  • We provide the necessary life skills needed for those who are learning to live a fruitful life 
    • This includes, but is not limited to:taking clients to the grocery store, going to the gym, various forms of therapy (art therapy, holistic therapy, etc.), process skills, and coping skills
  • Providing a community of people on the same journey of mental wellness
  • And, we believe, most importantly, a safe space to talk through and challenge old beliefs. 

Contact SLOW if you are interested in learning more, or you want to ask someone on our staff questions about whether or not we would be a good fit for you.