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Depression: Finding a Doctor or Therapist

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Depression Therapy: Preparing for Your First Appointment

It's easy to get flustered when you're first meeting with a doctor, psychologist, or other therapist. So be prepared. Before you first see your doctor or therapist, decide what you'd like to talk about. Think about what you want from treatment. Go in with information and questions.

Here are four key ways to prepare.

1. Write down questions.

Come up with some specific things you want to ask. Don't assume that your doctor will tell you everything you need to know.

For instance, you might ask your doctor:

  • Do I need medicine for my depression?
  • What kind of medicine will you prescribe?
  • What are the side effects and risks?
  • How often do I need to take it?
  • How quickly will it work?
  • Will any of my other medications, herbs, or supplements interact with this medicine?

You could ask your therapist:

  • What kind of approach do you use? What will our goals be?
  • What will you expect of me? Will you give me specific assignments to do between sessions?
  • How often will we meet?
  • How do we decide whether therapy will be short-term or long-term?
  • How much does each session cost, and what is your policy for cancellations or missed appointments?

2. Keep a log or journal.

Keeping track of your mood changes in a diary can be helpful to you, your doctor, and your psychologist or therapist. Just jot down a few lines each day. In each entry, include:

  • How you're feeling that day
  • Your current symptoms
  • Any events that might have affected your mood
  • How much sleep you got the night before
  • The exact doses of any medicines you took

Bring your journal to your first appointment. Show it to your doctor and therapist. If you keep a journal for a few weeks or months, you may start to see patterns to your mood changes that you never noticed before.

3. Don't forget about your physical symptoms.

You might not think that they're relevant, but physical symptoms are often signs of depression. Make sure to tell your doctor or therapist about pain, stomach problems, sleep problems, or any other physical symptoms. In some cases, you may need treatment for these symptoms.

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