Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may see your primary care doctor, or your doctor may refer you to a health provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychologist or psychiatrist). Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

These steps can help you make the most of your appointment. Make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you've had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications, vitamins or other supplements that you're taking, including how much and how often
  • Questions to ask your health provider

Take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember all of the information provided during the appointment.

For problems related to depression, basic questions to ask your health provider 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 primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • 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?
  • What are the main side effects of the medications you're recommending?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.

What to expect from your health provider

Be ready to answer questions from your health provider, such as:

  • 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?
  • Does your mood ever swing from feeling down to feeling intensely happy (euphoric) and full of energy?
  • Do you ever have suicidal thoughts when you're feeling down?
  • How severe are your symptoms? Do they interfere with your daily life or relationships?
  • Do you have any biological relatives with depression or another mood disorder?
  • What other mental or physical health conditions do you have?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs?
  • How much do you sleep at night? Does it change over time?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
Feb. 21, 2014

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