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Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Depression

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Updated May 09, 2013

Opening a dialogue with your doctor is an important first step in getting your depression properly treated. These are questions to ask your doctor about depression to get the conversation started.

1. Do I Have Depression?

This one may seem obvious, but often patients are afraid to ask and therefore don't get the treatment that they need. Depression is a real illness and is very treatable. You do not need to be ashamed of getting help.

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2. Is My Depression Related to a Medical Condition That I Have?

Depression can be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism. It is important to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing your depression so that you can get proper treatment for the underlying cause rather than just treating the symptoms.

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3. Is My Depression Related to Any Medications That I'm Taking?

Certain medications may cause depression as a side-effect. Your doctor may be able to change your medication regimen and alleviate your depression without giving you an additional antidepressant to take.

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4. What Type of Depression Do I Have?

Depression comes in several types, such as major depression, seasonal affective disorder, bipolar disorder and dysthymia. Knowing what type you have will help you understand your symptoms so you can better cope with them and seek appropriate treatment.

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5. Can You Refer Me to a Specialist?

In order to rule out any medical conditions or medications that may be causing your depression, it is important to see your regular family doctor. However, if you require treatment for depression, it is wise to request a referral to a psychiatrist. While your regular doctor can prescribe psychiatric medications, a psychiatrist has more expertise with these medications.

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6. What Are My Treatment Options?

Your doctor can explain to you what your treatment options are, and can make a recommendation that he believes is best for you.

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7. Are There Lifestyle Changes or Self-Help Strategies You Can Recommend?

If you are interested in exploring non-drug treatments and your depression is not severe, your doctor can help you learn about options such as diet, exercise programs and non-prescription supplements. Your doctor can also give you a referral for counseling or psychotherapy as appropriate.

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8. Can I Contact You If I Need Help Outside of Appointments?

If you need further assistance outside of your regularly scheduled appointments, you need to know how you can contact your doctor and under what conditions he is willing to be contacted. If you feel suicidal, experience difficult side-effects or other problems, you need to know what steps to take, rather than suffering in silence.

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9. How Soon Until I Feel Better?

Often patients give up on their medications because they lose patience with waiting. Ask your doctor how long it takes for your medication to work so you don't give up too soon.

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10. Do I Need Therapy?

While medications may put your brain chemistry back into balance, the best results are often obtained by combining medication with therapy. If you've been depressed for an extended period of time, you may have fallen into a habit of thinking in a negative way, which can get in the way of feeling better. You may also have issues in your past that you need to process. Therapy can help if your depression runs deeper than a simple chemical imbalance.

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