You've just been diagnosed with depression. While it may be a relief to finally have a name for the feelings you've been having, hearing the word "depression" may also conjure up some pretty negative images. Are you crazy? Doomed to feel bad for the rest of your life? The only person who feels this way? What's the next step to take?

The first thing to do is remind yourself that you are far from alone. More than 22 million Americans suffer from depression and other mood disorders, according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. And these conditions are largely treatable. Being depressed does not mean that you're weak or crazy. You have a medical condition that needs attention, just the same way that high blood pressure or skin rashes or broken bones need attention. It is not your fault.

The next step is to find a good health-care provider or team of health-care providers who will treat you. You will probably want to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or other mental-health professional to get counseling, and you may want to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk about taking an antidepressant medication. Make sure all of your providers can get in touch with each other if necessary.

Don't be discouraged if you don't feel better immediately upon starting treatment. It can take several sessions to make progress in talk therapy, and sometimes it's necessary to try more than one therapist before you find the one with whom you feel most comfortable and who helps you make the breakthroughs that will allow your depression to lift. A good therapist will help you learn skills to get yourself through the roughest patches of your depression and hopefully prevent subsequent rough patches. It also can take time to adjust to medication, usually several weeks. And don't be surprised if you suffer some side effects from your antidepressant, including dry mouth, weight changes, sexual difficulties, or sleepiness. Sometimes these side effects disappear after a few weeks, and sometimes you'll have them as long as you're on medication. If you feel that a medication truly isn't right for you, talk to your doctor about switching to something else.

Above all, try not to lose hope. Many people have overcome depression with the right treatment, and by taking these next steps, you can, too.