You may choose to start by contacting your teen's family doctor or pediatrician. In some cases, you may be referred directly to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist.
What you can do
To the extent possible, involve your teen in preparing for the appointment. Then make a list of:
- Any symptoms your teen has had, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason you scheduled the appointment
- Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes your teen has experienced
- All medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or supplements that your teen is taking
- Questions that you and your teen want to ask the doctor
Basic questions to ask the doctor include:
- Is depression the most likely cause of my child's symptoms?
- What are other possible causes for my child's symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests will he or she need?
- What treatment is likely to work best?
- Are there any possible side effects with the medications you're recommending?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- How will we monitor progress and effectiveness of the treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- My teen has these other health conditions. Could they be linked to depression?
- Are there any restrictions that my teen needs to follow?
- Should my teen see a psychiatrist or other mental health provider?
- Will making changes in diet, exercise or other areas help ease depression?
- Are there any printed materials that we can take home? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions any time you don't understand something.
What to expect from your teen's doctor
To make the most of the time allotted, make sure your teen is ready to answer questions from the doctor, such as:
Nov. 07, 2012
- When did family members or friends first notice your symptoms of depression?
- How long have you felt depressed? Do you generally always feel down, or does your mood change?
- Does your mood ever swing from feeling down to feeling extremely happy and full of energy?
- Do you ever have suicidal thoughts when you're feeling down?
- How severe are your symptoms? Do they interfere with school, relationships or other day-to-day activities?
- Do you have any biological (blood) relatives — such as a parent or grandparent — with depression or another mood disorder?
- What other mental or physical health conditions do you have?
- Are you using any mood-altering substances, such as alcohol, marijuana or street drugs?
- How much do you sleep at night? Does the amount change over time?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- What is your diet like? Do you have a history of significant weight gain or loss?
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