Preparing for your appointment

It's a good idea to be well-prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you and your teenager get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

To the extent possible, involve your teenager 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 for the appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes your teen has experienced
  • All medications, vitamins, herbal remedies or other 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 teen's symptoms?
  • What are other possible causes for the symptoms?
  • What kinds of tests will my teen 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 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 have? 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 your appointment time, make sure your teen is ready to answer questions from the doctor, such as:

  • 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 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 recreational drugs?
  • How much do you sleep at night? Does the amount change over time?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms? What appears to worsen them?
  • What is your diet like? Do you have a history of significant weight gain or loss?
Dec. 16, 2015
References
  1. Depressive disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  2. Depression. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression/index.shtml. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  3. Depression in children and adolescents. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/depression-in-children-and-adolescents.shtml. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  4. A family guide: What families need to know about adolescent depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www2.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Child_and_Adolescent_Action_Center&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24806. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  5. Facts for families: The depressed child. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/The_Depressed_Child_04.aspx. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  6. Facts for families: Psychotherapies for children and adolescents. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Psychotherapies_For_Children_And_Adolescents_86.aspx. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  7. Bonin L, et al. Overview of treatment for pediatric depression. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  8. Moreland CS, et al. Pediatric unipolar depression and pharmacotherapy: Choosing a medication. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  9. FDA: Don't leave childhood depression untreated. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm413161.htm. Accessed Sept. 10, 2015.
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  12. Bonin L. Pediatric unipolar depression: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Sept. 8, 2015.
  13. Raglio A, et al. Effects of music and music therapy on mood in neurological patients. World Journal of Psychiatry. 2015;5:68.
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  18. Cook AJ. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 17, 2015.
  19. Brent DA, et al. Effect of a cognitive-behavioral prevention program on depression 6 years after implementation among at-risk adolescents: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. In press. Accessed Sept. 30, 2015.
  20. Hoecker JL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 30, 2015.
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  22. Centers of Excellence. National Network of Depression Centers. http://www.nndc.org/centers-of-excellence. Accessed Oct. 30, 2015.