Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care provider. Or you may start by seeing a mental health provider such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Your symptoms, such as feeling down or having a lack of energy
  • Your depression patterns, such as when your depression starts and what seems to make it better or worse
  • Any other mental or physical health problems you have — both can affect mood
  • Any major stressors or life changes you've had recently
  • All medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking, including dosages
  • Questions to ask your doctor, in order of priority

For seasonal affective disorder, some basic questions to ask include:

  • Are my symptoms likely caused by SAD, or could they be due to something else?
  • What else could be causing or worsening my symptoms of depression?
  • What are the best treatment options?
  • Are there any restrictions that I need to follow or steps I should take to help improve my mood?
  • Should I see a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider?
  • Are medications likely to improve my symptoms?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medication you're prescribing me?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask questions anytime during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did you first begin having symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you have any other physical or mental health conditions?
  • Are you taking any medications, supplements or herbal remedies?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs?
  • Do any of your blood relatives have SAD or another mental health condition?
Sep. 12, 2014

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