Doctor Discussion Guide

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of depression, or that your current treatment is not managing your symptoms, you should see your doctor. When booking your appointment inform him or her that you may need extra time to discuss your symptoms.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

One way to make the most of your visit is to create a list of questions beforehand and then check them off as you and your doctor talk.

Here are some sample questions to get you started. You can also print them.

After you describe your symptoms, ask:

  • Do you think I have depression?
  • Could my depression be triggered by some other medical condition or by medications I’m currently taking?
  • What are some of the treatment options to help these symptoms improve?

If your doctor diagnoses depression, ask:

  • Can you treat my depression or do I need to see a specialist such as a psychiatrist or a therapist? If so, can you recommend someone?
  • Do I need counseling? If so, can you recommend someone?
  • What is talk therapy, and how will I know if it’s working?
  • Are there any self-help strategies or lifestyle changes you’d recommend?

If you have been receiving treatment for depression but still do not feel like your old self, ask:

  • Will these symptoms improve or is this the best I can expect?
  • How long should we wait until we consider switching medications or trying something else?

If your doctor prescribes any medication, ask:

  • What are the benefits of taking this medication?
  • When will the medication start working? How will I know if it’s working?
  • What will it feel like to be on this medication?
  • What are the side effects? Will they go away over time? What should I do if I experience them?
  • How long will I need to take this medication? Will I be able to stop taking it eventually?
  • Should I avoid certain things (e.g., other medications, alcohol) or particular foods while I’m taking this drug?
  • What if it doesn’t work? Is there something else I can do?
  • Will this medication take care of my depression symptoms?
  • If I take this medication, will my depression ever return?

It’s also a good idea to discuss with your doctor his or her overall approach to treatment. Agree on how he or she will be monitoring your progress. Find out if it is best to follow up in person or on the phone and how often you should do so.

Checklist of Information to Take

Make a list of all your symptoms. Write down approximate dates for when these symptoms started. Note any patterns or triggers you’ve noticed.

A list of any medications you’re taking. Include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, and nutritional supplements.

A list of any medical conditions you have. Note any chronic conditions (e.g., diabetes or high blood pressure) and any recently diagnosed illnesses.

Any major life changes you’ve recently experienced. Don’t forget positive events too (e.g., getting married or receiving a promotion).

Your family medical history. Note any relatives who have suffered from depression or other mental illness, as well as any family history of suicide, alcoholism, substance abuse or erratic behaviour.

A list of treatments you’ve tried in the past, if any. Include alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or meditation.

In addition to the information you’ve provided above, complete and print this Symptom Checklist and bring it in to your doctor for every visit. Doing so will allow him to track your progress on your journey to improvement.