Talking to Your Doctor About Depression
Michael Jubinville, MPH
You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it's essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors 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 your questions ahead of time so you don't forget them.
- Write down the answers you get. Make sure you understand what you are hearing. If you don't, tell the doctor. Ask for educational materials.
- Ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What could be causing my problems?
- What should I do if my happiness and ability to function in my relationships, work, or home life changes?
- Do I need a physical exam or tests to look for other causes?
- Have you diagnosed and treated people with depression?
- If not, can you refer me to someone who can?
About Treatment Options
- How is depression treated?
- What medicines might help me and how long will they take to work?
- What side effects should I watch for while on medicine and what should I do if I develop them?
- Can I stop taking medicines if they make me feel better?
- Can you provide me with names of counselors or therapists who treat depression?
Interview potential counselors. Find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. Ask questions such as:
- What training and experience do you have in treating depression?
- How do you treat it?
- How long will I need to be treated?
- How long are the sessions and how often will I have them?
- What are your fees?
- Which health insurances do you accept?
- Do you offer a payment plan?
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
- Getting enough sleep
- 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?
Depressive disorders. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/mood-disorders/depressive-disorders. Updated May 2018. Accessed October 9, 2018.
National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml. Updated February 2018. Accessed October 9, 2018.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor. Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed October 9, 2018.
Major depressive disorder (MDD). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116638/Major-depressive-disorder-MDD. Updated August 23, 2018. Accessed October 9, 2018.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 11/13/2020