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Understanding diagnosis

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What is a diagnosis?

A diagnosis is a way of describing a group of feelings, symptoms or experiences. Just like getting a diagnosis for a physical health problem, like diabetes, a health professional can give you a mental health diagnosis based on what you’re experiencing.
Even though lots of people can have the same diagnosis, they might experience their condition differently.

How are mental health problems diagnosed?

A diagnosis can be made by health professionals, like your doctor. To make a diagnosis, they might ask you about:
1. The feelings, thoughts and behaviours you're experiencing
2. How long you've been feeling this way
3. Any problems you're having at home, school or work
4. The impact your feelings and experiences are having on your life
5. Any changes to your sleep, eating and activity levels

What happens when I get a diagnosis?

When you get a diagnosis, your doctor or health professional should talk you through the different types of treatments and support you can get. It is also helpful to:
1. Talk to someone
2. Find out about your condition
3. Look for places to get support and treatment

Why might a diagnosis be helpful?

It can help you to:
1. Understand your feelings
2. Know there is a name for what you've been experiencing
3. Feel a sense of relief as you are not the first to feel like this
4. Find more information about your condition
5. Find the right support and treatments that are designed to help with your diagnosis
6. Explain to others what's going on
7. Connect with others who have similar experiences

What if I don't find my diagnosis helpful?

A diagnosis is one way of explaining what you’re experiencing, but it doesn’t need to define who you are.
You might not agree with your diagnosis, or feel like it doesn’t really explain what you’re experiencing. It might be more helpful to focus on your symptoms instead.

What if I don't agree with my diagnosis?

If you don’t agree with your diagnosis, you should speak to your doctor and explain why. Otherwise, you can seek a second opinion by asking to speak to another doctor to see if they think that your diagnosis could be different.

Could I get extra support at school or work?

It’s your choice whether you want to tell your school, college, university or work about your diagnosis. They may be able to offer you some support, like:
1. Being there to listen
2. Giving you information about support they provide
3. Making reasonable adjustments

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