Preparing for your appointment

You may see your primary care doctor, or your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional. 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 dosages
  • Questions to ask your doctor or mental health professional

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 doctor 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 professional?
  • 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 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:

  • 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?