Denial, Refusal, Acceptance


Patients' first reactions to a diagnosis of major depressive disorder can be varied. What can you do to help them cope?

According to Susan J. Noonan, MD, MPH, a patient's knowledge and understanding of their illness results in fewer symptoms of depression or mania, a greater chance of adherence to recommended medications, an increased time to reoccurence with fewer reoccurences, and fewer or no hospital admissions. Developing illness awareness is incredibly important for a patient's journey.

Dr Noonan is a physician consultant and Certified Peer Specialist in the Department of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital. She is the author of four books and a blog on managing depression, most recently Helping Others With Depression: Words to Say, Things to Do (December 2020). Dr Noonan offers peer counseling to fellow patients, including physicians and other professionals, and can be confidentially reached through her website at

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