Almost everyone has dark thoughts when his or her mood is bad. With depression, though, the thoughts can be extremely negative. They can also take over and distort your view of reality.
Cognitive therapy can be an effective way to defuse those thoughts. When used for depression, cognitive therapy provides a mental tool kit that can be used to challenge negative thoughts. Over the long term, cognitive therapy for depression can change the way a depressed person sees the world.
Studies have shown...
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 the drug work?
Will any of my other medications, herbs, or supplements interact with this drug?
If you are seeing a separate therapist from a doctor (such as a psychiatrist) prescribing medicines, 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?
Will this therapy be short-term or long-term?
How will you collaborate and communicate with my doctor in treating me?
How much does each session cost?
Keep a log or journal. Keeping track of your mood changes in a diary can be helpful both to you and your doctor 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 drugs you took, and a record of missed doses
Bring in your journal to your first appointment. Show it to your doctor or 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.
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 health care provider about pain, stomach problems, sleep problems, or any other physical symptoms. In some cases, you might need medicines specifically for these symptoms.
Get help from friends or family members. Ask them about changes they've noticed in your behavior. They may have seen symptoms that you missed. And if you're nervous about your first appointment, ask for a friend or family member to come along.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Finding Peace of Mind: Treatment Strategies for Depression and Bipolar Disorder." National Mental Health Association: "Depression: What You Need to Know." Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Guide to Depression and Bipolar Disorder," 2002. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "You've Just Been Diagnosed ... What Now?" Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Psychotherapy: How It Works and How It Can Help."
Joseph Goldberg, MD on August 21, 2014