Depression diagnosis: Carenity members tell their story

Published 5 Dec 2019 • Updated 17 Jan 2020 • By Louise Bollecker

Being diagnosed with a chronic condition can turn a patient's life upside down. Read on to discover the stories of Carenity members living with depression.

Depression diagnosis: Carenity members tell their story

Survey conducted by Carenity with 271 responders living with depression.

diagnostic long 

On average it takes 5,3 years and consultations with 3 doctors before a patient is properly diagnosed with depression.

Carenity members living with depression spent an average of 5 years to obtain a diagnosis! This despite the fact that the vast majority of members were clearly suffering from a decline in well-being. Here are some of the symptoms they pointed out:

Sadness| Stress | Crying| Anxiety| Weight Gain or Loss | Burn-out | Melancoly| Fatigue | Suicidal Thoughts | Apathy

Before obtaining a diagnosis and gaining access to treatment, patients living with depression felt symptoms were turning their life on its head. Respondents reported nearly every aspect of their life was effected on a daily basis, with the exception of physical pain. Relationships with others were the most drastically affected by depression: 

vie-sociale Social Life - 88%

famille Family Life - 80%

fatigue-sommeil Chronic Fatigue - 77%

loisirs Pastimes and Physical Activities - 77%

vie-travail Work-Life - 76%

intime-sexe-relations Personal Life - 74%

douleur-physique Significant Physical Pain - 44%

On the other hand, 78% of respondents were not misdiagnosed. Their symptoms were correctly identified as symptoms of depression. A few were misdiagnosed with the following conditions :

Bipolar Disorder | High Blood Pressure | Neurosis | Chronic Fatigue | Meningitis| Schizophrenia

Patient Testimony: misdiagnoses

"For a very long time, my pain was not acknowledged. For my doctors, it was all in my head. It was my psychiatrist who revealed the truth."

"When my shrink was on leave, another shrink misdiagnosed me with bipolar and hospitalised me. For a year I took Depakote, which had an impact on my quality of life."

"It wasn't really a misdiagnosis since I initially came in complaining of nausea, stomach pain, loss of appetite, etc. It was only after I started to acknowledge my stress and insomnia that I broke down and admitted I was depressed."

"I was suffering from digestion problems, I was sick every evening and at night (diarrhoea, nausea, stomach cramps ...). I went through a number of tests but they never found any cause for alarm. But, I was having anxiety attacks every evening and night. The first symptom of my depression was my indigestion."

suiteBeing diagnosed with a chronic illness can completely upend a patient's life. Everyone experiences the fact that an illness will be long-lasting in a different way: some are relieved to put a name on their illness and start treatment, others feel frightened or shocked. The majority of depression patients were expecting the diagnosis. Around 57% of patients had done research on the Internet beforehand, which might explain this number.                                     

annonce brutale  It wasn't a shock, I was expecting it - 48%

pas-un-choc-diag  It was a relief - 24% 

soulagement I was scared - 20%

effrayant It was a shock - 15%

rien ressenti I didn't feel any way in particular - 17%

ne se souvient pas I don't remember - 13%

The role of the health professional who delivers the diagnosis is extremely important. Sometimes, a patient didn't feel sufficiently listened to or informed; others are grateful to their physicians for accompanying them in a difficult moment. For Carenity members living with depression, most saw the health care professionals they came into contact with as allies. Patients especially appreciated a calm doctor who took the time to explain the illness to them.

le médecin 

My physician was:

54% - Very calm
46% - Suggested some sort of emotional support
45% - Was empathetic 
45% - Took the time to explain everything for me

ressenti négatif

12% - Seemed to be in a hurry
11% - Seemed unconcerned
10% - Was cold and distant
5% - Used a lot of hard-to-understand or scientific jargon

Patient testimonials: the moment of diagnosis

"After listening to my story, the psychiatrist put me on antidepressants, it was only then that I realised I was depressed. But he never gave a name to my illness."

"They were pretty clear about the diagnosis, and gave me a lot of detailed explanations."

"When she saw me walk into her office, she immediately said: You need some help! You can't go on like this." We looked for psychiatrist together; she promised me that if I didn't feel comfortable with the first psychiatrist, no problem, she had other addresses. She asked me if there was a history of depression in my family. Actually, there is...."  

"My physician listened to me carefully, and then gave his diagnosis: severe depression and hospitalisation was needed."

Following their diagnosis, 31% of patients felt relieved to finally have a diagnosis and 13% determined to fight the disease. However, only 7% felt confident about the future. 47% felt anxious, 38% lost, 18% angry, 32% desperate and 38% discouraged. Loneliness was also often a problem, with 49% feeling alone, and 42% feeling misunderstood by those close to them.

merci à tous 

Many thanks to all the participants of this survey who took the time to share their experience to help improve depression diagnosis for other patients!


"We still need more explanations about the illness. And what we should expect as far as symptoms and treatment side-effects."

"Don't automatically prescribe a treatment, without explanation or thought."

"The most painful thing is not getting diagnosed because you start to doubt your sanity and you can't get any help or treatment. You feel helpless and misunderstood."

"I would've preferred to be sent to a shrink before being put on medication. Even if, at the end of it, the meds helped a lot."

"I appreciated the fact I was seen right away but, I was put off by the standoffishness of the nurse at the mental health clinic."

"The role of a physician should be to take the time to explain in simple terms and not give false hopes. My doctor was great because she was very conscious of the limits of her role as a GP... and what she could and could not do for me and my pain. She referred me to a specialist, but was always ready to hear me out."

"More than anything, a doctor should never give out a diagnosis with condescendence and no empathy. That just makes us even more disgusted with human nature, with life in general. Some psychologists just don't know how to give out a diagnosis. You just want to slam the door behind you and on life in general."

Do the results of this survey line up with your experiences? Why not share your own experiences with other members in the comments below?

Survey conducted by Carenity with 271 respondents living with depression in France, the UK, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US.

avatar Louise Bollecker

Author: Louise Bollecker, Community Manager France

Community Manager of Carenity in France, Louise is also editor-in-chief of the Health Magazine to provide articles, videos and testimonials that focus on patients' experiences and making their voices heard. With a... >> Learn more


on 10/01/2020

I can totally feel what others are going through.  Life is never easy but people must listen to you so you can be diagnosed properly.

on 10/01/2020
I have suffered from Anxiety and Depression all my life-I'm now 65, and amazed to have survived for so long! Although I suffered from (unrecognized Anorexia as a teenager- when I saw my G.P. at the time, he said I was simply a skinny child and was fine, even though my weight had dropped from 11 stones to five and a half over a two year period. In the early 1970s, it was fairly common for Mental Illness to go unacknowledged and untreated, and there was far less openness and information about it than, thankfully, there now is. It wasn't until I was in my mid-thirties, and in the throes of a complete nervous collapse due to combined stresses of moving to a different country, my child being diagnosed as having type 1 Diabetes, and feeling completely cut off from my family and friends, that I was actually diagnosed with depression and anxiety and given s short course of anti-depressants for the first time. These helped me to get through the worst of it, but since then, I feel like I have been waging a constant battle with anxiety and depression and have been prescribed a multitude of different medications, with varying degrees of efficacy. I've also had CBT, EMDR and, more recently, Integrated Psychological Therapy, which combines a variety of different psychological techniques in order to help sufferers cope with chronic and severe mental health issues. Living in the U.K., I feel that the NHS services are sadly inadequate and greatly in need of increased funding and support. I am now in the fortunate position of being able to access Private Psychiatric treatment and Counselling Services, but in the past have had to wait for months and months before being able to speak to a specialist and have had to rely on overworked, non-specialist doctors in General Practice for treatment, advice and support during my many crises.

on 10/01/2020

Been suffering for about 20yrs now still not been diagnosed dont nknow what the hell is wrong with me.. finding it really hard as i've gotten older .

on 18/01/2020

I've been suffering for a long time.  I find Karaoke and sewing helps me 

on 14/11/2020

I have also suffered depression and loneliness for as long as i can remember. It's started in childhood when i was bullied about my weight and the trauma of that time has affected me even now if I'm honest I write a lot in my diary and I believe the pen and paper has saved my life over the years writing became my save place and happy place I still struggle even now and am also on medication. I have found this group helpful also. Thank you for listening.

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