Making the discovery that you might have a chemical imbalance or a psychiatric diagnosis is a life event that can lead to a variety of emotions such as relief and/or disappointment. Hopefully, such diagnoses will inspire a person to seek help and make healthy changes in their life so they can live life to the absolute fullest. A psychiatric diagnosis is generally where the road to recovery begins.

Sometimes the understanding and acceptance that a physical ailment or psychological issue is contributing to mental anguish can be difficult to accept at first. You might be feeling defeated, helpless, and not know what to do next. It’s essential to know and understand the problem at hand before making moves to go in and fix it. Think of it like a car; you generally wouldn’t go under the hood of a vehicle and start picking it apart before knowing what the problem is. The way you treat your body and mind shouldn’t be any different.

The first step to recovery is having a firm understanding of the problem at hand, and then you are free to make the first moves to improve your situation. Taking steps towards managing your mental health may involve a combination of psychotherapy, healthy lifestyle changes, and prescription medication. Although your issues might be manifested physically, medication alone, unfortunately, won’t likely be able to redirect your mind into a healthier way of thinking and functioning.

With that said, a critical part of your recovery will likely be finding the right medical professional. It is essential to find someone you’re comfortable with, as you’ll be sharing very personal information with them.

Once you have found a therapist that you are happy with (it can take several visits with the same person to establish a steady comfort level), it’s time to commit to learning about whatever afflicts your mind and how to keep it from negatively impacting your life. Psychiatrist, Rebecca Dolgin, M.D., says, “An essential part of psychotherapy is establishing a good therapeutic alliance. From there, psychotherapy has the potential to assist patients with identifying triggers to symptoms, restructuring maladaptive thinking patterns, and creating healthy lifestyle habits.” You might find it helpful to keep a journal during this time to establish and keep track of your thoughts, moods, progress, or obstacles on the road to recovery.

While medication compliance and psychotherapy are often important when it comes to understanding and managing your mental health, “it is important to focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising (if there are no medical contraindications), sleeping well, and eating well,” says Dr. Rebecca Dolgin. Doing everything you can to keep your body healthy can contribute to a healthier mind, which in turn can make working towards recovery an easier experience.

Regardless of what you may be afflicted with, be sure to take steps to seek adequate help. Although these may be new challenges to consider, do not be afraid. Combine the right professional help with self-care, and chances are you’ll find yourself better at managing your psychological well-being and feeling better in no time at all.