Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may see your primary care doctor, or your doctor may refer you to a mental health specialist. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before 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 doses
  • Questions to ask your health care provider

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

Some basic questions to ask your health care provider include:

  • Is depression the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
  • 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 any other questions.

What to expect from your health care provider

Be ready to answer questions from your health care 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?
  • Do your symptoms interfere with your daily life or relationships?
  • Do you have any blood relatives with depression or another mood disorder?
  • What other mental or physical health conditions do you have?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational 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?
July 22, 2015