You may see your primary care doctor, or your doctor may refer you to a professional who specializes in mental health conditions. You may want to take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who comes with you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
What you can do
Before your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
- All medications, vitamins and other supplements that you're taking, and the doses
- Questions to ask your doctor
Basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Is depression the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests will I need?
- What treatment is likely to work best for me?
- What are the alternatives to the approach that you're suggesting?
- Are there any possible side effects or other issues with the medication you're recommending? Is there a generic alternative?
- I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Should I see a psychiatrist or other mental health provider?
- Do you have printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Be ready to answer questions from your doctor to reserve time to discuss your concerns. Your doctor may ask:
Sept. 17, 2015
- When did you or your loved ones first notice your symptoms of depression?
- How long have you felt depressed? Do you generally always feel down, or does your mood fluctuate?
- How severe are your symptoms? Do they interfere with your daily life or relationships?
- Does your mood ever swing from feeling down to feeling euphoric and full of energy?
- How do you react to good news or positive events?
- How do you react to criticism or rejection?
- Do you constantly feel hungry or regularly overeat?
- How much do you sleep every day?
- Do you often feel tired or irritable?
- Do you ever have suicidal thoughts?
- Do you have any blood relatives with depression or another mood disorder? What treatment has helped them?
- What other mental or physical health conditions do you have?
- Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Depressive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed July 30, 2015.
- Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Accessed July 31, 2015.
- Depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression/Overview. Accessed July 31, 2015.
- Lojko D, et al. Atypical features in depression: Association with obesity and bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015;185:76.
- Stress and relaxation techniques: What the science says. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/relaxation-science. Accessed Aug. 10, 2015.
- Cristancho MA, et al. Atypical depression in the 21st Century: Diagnostic and treatment issues. Psychiatric Times. 2011;28:42.
- Ohayon MM, et al. Challenging the validity of the association between oversleeping and overeating in atypical depression. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2015;78:52.
- Koyuncu A, et al. Relationship between atypical depression and social anxiety disorder. Psychiatry Research. 2015;225:79.
- Silverstein B, et al. Evidence for broadening criteria for atypical depression which may define a reactive depressive disorder. Psychiatry Journal. In press. 2015;2015:575931. Accessed Aug. 27, 2015.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 19, 2015.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 27, 2015.