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You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with depression. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Depression

  • What could be causing my symptoms?
  • What should I do if these symptoms interfere with my happiness and ability to function in my relationships, work, or home life?
  • Do I need a physical exam and testing to look for other causes?
  • Have you diagnosed and treated people with depression?
  • If not, can you refer me to a mental health professional who can diagnose and treat depression?

About Treatment Options

  • What treatment options are available for depression?
  • What medications might help me and how long will they take to work?
  • What side effects should I watch for while on this medication and what should I do if I develop them?
  • Can you provide me with names of counselors or therapists who treat depression?

If you decide to try counseling, interview potential counselors and find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. Ask the counselor such questions as:

  • What training and experience do you have in treating depression?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long will I need to be treated for depression?
  • How long are treatment sessions and how often will I have them?
  • What are your fees?
  • What health insurance do you accept?
  • Do you offer sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • What lifestyle changes can help me manage depression?
  • What resources are available to help me with:
    • Eating a healthful diet
    • Exercising regularly
    • Finding social support
    • Managing stress

About Your Outlook

  • What are my chances of recovery from depression both with and without treatment?
  • What are the chances of my depression recurring and is there anything I can do to prevent it?

References:

Ask Me 3. Partnership for Clear Health Communication website. Available at: http://www.npsf.org/for-healthcare-professionals/programs/ask-me-3/. Accessed July 31, 2012.

Depression. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-easy-to-read/depression-trifold.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2012.



Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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