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:
Sept. 12, 2014
- 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?
- Saeed SA, et al. Seasonal affective disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Specifiers for depressive disorders: With seasonal pattern. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Seasonal affective disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=23051. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Seasonal-affective disorder. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psychiatry.org/seasonal-affective-disorder. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Varteresian T, et al. Natural products and supplements for geriatric depression and cognitive disorders: An evaluation of the research. Current Psychiatry Reports. 2014;16:456.
- Sanassi LA. Seasonal affective disorder: Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. 2014;27:18.
- Melatonin. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Ravindran AV, et al. Complementary and alternative therapies as add-on to pharmacotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2013;150:707.
- Stress and relaxation techniques. NCCAM Clinical Digest. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/relaxation.htm. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Massage therapy for health purposes. NCCAM Clinical Digest. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/massage. Accessed Aug. 13, 2014.
- Kung S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 29, 2014.