Before your first psychiatrist appointment for major depressive disorder, you can do many things to prepare. By planning ahead, you’re doing everything on your end to make sure you have a smooth appointment.
What Can You Do Before Your Major Depressive Disorder Appointment?
If you’re more involved in your major depressive disorder care, you’ll have a better outcome. Here are some ways to stay on top of it before you see your doctor:
Call to confirm. After you’ve booked your appointment, you may still have some questions. If so, call your doctor’s office again and clear up anything you may be unsure about.
You might want to know more about your psychiatrist’s qualifications, their fees, what types of payments they take, their experience in major depressive disorder treatment, or other things.
Create a list of questions. During your appointment, you might forget some of the important things you meant to ask your doctor. For this reason, it’s smart to make a note with all the points you want to talk about or questions you want to ask. You can do this on a piece of paper, your phone, or anywhere else that’s easy to access on your appointment day.
You may want to ask things like:
- What type of treatments do you offer?
- What medications are available and do they have side effects?
- Can I reach you outside of appointments? If so, what’s the best way to do that?
- What resources can I look into to help with my care?
- How can I play an active role in my treatment?
You’ll also want to keep a note of important talking topics, such as:
- Your symptoms
- Other medical conditions you have
- Stressors in your life
- Information on what has and hasn’t helped with your depression in the past
- The types of support you have (your friends, family, a support group, and any others)
Bring your knowledge. It’s never a bad idea to do a little research before your appointment. Get a basic understanding of major depressive disorder so that you can ask more questions at your appointment. If you have a bit of background on the disorder, you can have a head start during your first appointment.
Gather your medications. To treat your depression, your doctor will want to know what medicines you’re taking. Create a list of all of them. This includes all over-the-counter, prescription, herbal supplements, and vitamins. Write down how often and how much you take of each.
In some cases, it might be easier to bring the medications with you. But a list should be fine if that’s not possible.
Gather your documents. If you have a referral note or any other documents from other doctors about your major depressive disorder, bring them to your appointment. You may also want to bring blood test results or scans if you have other conditions.
You should also have a sheet that lists your other current doctors and past psychiatrists (if any) and their contact information. Include their names, phone numbers, and where they practice.
Put these in a folder so that you can easily find them on the day of your appointment.
Become familiar with your family history. With any condition, your family members’ health is always important to know. If you have access to the information, find out if any of your close relatives have or had mental health conditions. This can help your doctor understand your major depressive disorder.
Your psychiatrist may ask about your family history. While it’s important to know about it if you can, it’s OK if you aren’t able to get information about this.
Bring a journal. If you log your moods, symptoms, triggers, or other things related to your depression, it can help you and your doctor treat your major depressive disorder better. You’ll be able to show them a more in-depth timeline, which will give them a better idea of your condition.
This can be helpful even after your first appointment. A journal can allow you to track your symptoms between sessions with your psychiatrist. It can also allow you to see your progress over time.
Set goals for yourself. Write down some of your personal goals in your journal. These may relate to your major depressive disorder. If you share them with your psychiatrist, you can work together as a team to reach them.
Let them know your short- and long-term goals. If you keep them in mind, this can help you and your doctor create a treatment plan that fits your lifestyle. They’ll make sure that your treatment doesn’t collide with your goals. For example, if your goal is to go back to school and the side effects of a medication mess with your ability to do so, your doctor can look for other ways to treat you.
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrist: “Your First Appointment.”
Mental Health America: “Preparing for Appointments.”
National Alliance on Mental Illness: “How to Prepare for Your Psychiatric Appointment.”