Whether you start by seeing your primary care doctor or a mental health professional for evaluation and treatment, here's some guidance to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
If possible, you may want to take notes during the visit or bring along a family member or friend to help you remember information.
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long.
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes, both positive and negative.
- Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Include any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you're taking, and the dosages.
- Questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your time together.
Some questions to ask your doctor may include:
- What do you think is causing my symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long term?
- Do you recommend treatment? If yes, with what approach?
- How soon do you expect my symptoms to improve?
- Should I see a mental health specialist?
- Do you recommend any temporary changes at home, work or school to help me recover?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
- What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did you or your loved ones first notice your symptoms?
- What major changes have recently occurred in your life, both positive and negative?
- How have you tried to cope with these changes?
- How often do you feel sad or depressed?
- Do you have thoughts of suicide?
- How often do you feel anxious or worried?
- Are you having trouble sleeping?
- Do you have difficulty finishing tasks at home, work or school that previously felt manageable to you?
- Are you avoiding social or family events?
- Have you been having any problems at school or work?
- Have you made any impulsive decisions or engaged in reckless behavior that doesn't seem like you?
- Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs? How often?
- Have you been treated for other mental health disorders in the past? If yes, what type of therapy was most helpful?