ed.54
A:

Hey ed.54,

Wow, this is a really great question.

I am often recommending to people, here on Depression Connect, that they talk to their physicians about their depression symptoms. General practitioners and internists are often the first line in depression treatment. Yet I often wonder if individuals who are suffering from depression symptoms are comfortable having this discussion with their doctors and if they know how to initiate this discussion.

As you are probably aware of, physicians have less and less time to spend with their patients. Therefore, I always recommend the direct approach. Don't wait until your next physical or until you have another reason to talk to your doctor. Make an appointment to talk about depression. Don't wait.

As you prepare for your appointment, I would recommend preparing some "evidence" and talking points for your discussion. This would include making a list of your specific symptoms. What you are feeling. When you feel this way. How your symptoms of depression are affecting your daily life. Examples.

The more detailed you can be, the better. Doctors need specifics to help them to make the best recommendation.

And I would recommend using the direct approach as you initiate this discussion. "Doctor, I think that I am depressed. I need to talk to you about getting help." And then, be ready to talk about your symptoms. Bring your list of talking points with you. Be ready with a brief summary of how you are feeling — the key symptoms and how long you have had them. Your doctor will most likely have a few additional questions.

Now, a couple of things to consider.

While internists and GPs are often the first line of treatment for depression, your doctor may or may not be aware of, and comfortable with, all of the treatment options. Most likely, this will include anti-depressants. He/she may have a couple of "go to" drugs that they recommend. If you do go on medication, it will be really important to follow your doctor's guidelines, and to stay closely in touch as you begin taking the medication. Make sure your doctor knows how you are doing.

Your doctor may also recommend some kind of counseling, and I would encourage you to follow up on that as well.

If your doctor is not comfortable treating depression, and recommends that you see a psychiatrist, or if you have concerns about the recommended course of treatment, then I would also encourage you to consult with a psychiatrist. In other words, if your internist/GP is not helpful, then talk with someone who can be. This could include a psychiatrist, or a therapist, who can evaluate you for depression and make a recommendation for treatment.

It's great that you have decided to take this next step to get help with your depression. And I want to again encourage you to follow through as soon as possible and get your treatment underway. What you are feeling is treatable. Don't go through this alone.

And stay in touch with us. Let us know how you are doing!

Gary

Answered By Answered by Dr GaryCA
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