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How To Talk To Your Doctor About Depression

It can sometimes be difficult to talk to your doctor about your mental health, but it’s important to remember you’re not alone and they’re there to help. If you’re struggling with depression, being open and honest with your doctor is the best way to ensure they can provide you with the proper care and support for your needs.

To ease your nerves, we’ve prepared a comprehensive guide for talking to your doctor about depression. Knowing what to expect and preparing for your appointment will set you up for talking openly about your mental health, so you can begin your recovery journey and feel more comfortable with your doctor. Read on to learn more.

Why Is It Important To Discuss Depression With a Healthcare Professional?

Depression is a common mental health condition affecting hundreds of millions worldwide. Although depression isn’t uncommon, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious condition. Depression can be debilitating and cause significant negative effects in aspects of life like work, school, relationships, and daily activities. If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s essential to talk to a healthcare professional.

People with depression may sometimes feel hopeless, but it’s important to know that depression can be managed and treated effectively with therapy, lifestyle changes, and medication when necessary. Talking to a healthcare professional will allow them to officially diagnose you and plan a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and concerns.

Depression can lead to other long-term health complications, so it’s important to address your depression as soon as you notice symptoms. Along with preventing these long-term health issues, getting treatment sooner means you can start living without the depression affecting your day-to-day life. In some cases, depression can lead to more severe mental health issues, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Depression is a medical condition and nothing to be ashamed of. Depression is treatable, and you can greatly improve your quality of life by addressing it as soon as possible. That is why talking to a healthcare professional about your mental health concerns is important.

Utilizing Telemedicine for Mental Health

For some people, even the prospect of going to the doctor can be intimidating. This is just one of the reasons that telemedicine has become an increasingly popular and effective path for mental health treatment. A telehealth primary care provider can diagnose mental health conditions, create treatment plans, and monitor your ongoing health from the comfort of your home. 

Rather than going through the steps and sometimes exhausting process of going to an in-person clinic, you can access healthcare through an app and speak to your primary care provider through phone, video, or messaging.

Telehealth is an ideal and comfortable alternative for people who feel anxious about a trip to the doctor to discuss mental health. It’s especially convenient for those who may not have easy access to mental health services because they live in rural or remote areas.

Many people are surprised to learn that telehealth clinics can provide many of the same services as in-person clinics. As mentioned, they can diagnose patients, create treatment plans, and write medically appropriate prescriptions. Circle Medical is a great choice if you’re looking for a telehealth provider. Circle Medical primary care providers create a safe and welcoming space for patients to feel comfortable talking about their mental health concerns.

Preparing for Your Appointment

Preparation is the best way to calm your nerves and make sure you get the most out of your appointment. Here are some things you can do to get ready for your upcoming appointment:

  • Keep a journal - Make sure to track your feelings with a journal. Note any mood changes and how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. Keeping a consistent journal to track your mood can help your doctor determine if you have depression and notice triggers that may worsen your symptoms.
  • List out your symptoms - It’s easy to forget your symptoms when you’re talking to your healthcare provider in an appointment setting. Writing down your symptoms will help you be thorough, so you can tell your doctor everything.
  • Write down medications - If you’re taking any medications, make sure to write them down. Prescriptions will be in your medical history, but you should also write down OTC medications, supplements, and vitamins you may be taking.
  • Write down your questions - Prepare a comprehensive list of questions to ask your doctor. Your doctor is there to answer all of your questions, so don’t be afraid to ask as many as you need to feel comfortable.
  • Ask a trusted friend or family member - It can also help to bring a friend or family member you trust to your initial appointment. They can help you ask questions and make you feel more comfortable. It can be especially helpful if it’s a friend or family member with mental health experience, whether from their own experiences or in a professional sense.

Remember, your doctor is there to help and support you. Still, being prepared can make the conversation go smoothly and ensure you get the answers you need. It can also help your doctor get the information they need to create the best possible treatment plan.

Opening up the Conversation

It's understandable to feel apprehensive about discussing depression with your doctor. But it’s an important step in your journey to improving and addressing your mental health. If you let your primary care provider know about your depression, they will be happy to lead the conversation.

However, if you want to lead and open up the conversation, you can start by saying something like, “I’ve been feeling down for a while now,” or “I’ve been experiencing some symptoms lately that make me feel like I may have depression.” Be open and honest about your symptoms when your primary care provider asks you questions. Provide as much detail as possible, so your doctor can accurately diagnose your symptoms.

Once you open up the conversation, be prepared to answer any additional questions your doctor might have. Even if you may feel apprehensive about sharing your experiences, keep in mind they’re asking these questions to help.

Also, keep in mind that depression treatment is an ongoing process. As you talk to your doctor more, you will likely become more comfortable and become less apprehensive to open up to them. Of course, remember that you are always your own advocate when it comes to healthcare. If you feel like your doctor isn’t right for you or they make you feel uncomfortable, you should never hesitate to seek care elsewhere.

Discussing Treatment Options

Talking to your doctor and discussing your experiences will allow them to determine if depression is a concern or the root cause of your symptoms. If your doctor diagnoses you with depression, setting up a treatment plan tailored to your circumstances is next. Here are some treatment options that your healthcare provider may discuss or suggest:

  • Therapy - Talking to a therapist is a great way to get to the root of your feelings and learn what underlying issues may be contributing to your depression. A therapist can also provide you with coping mechanisms and give you tools to regulate your emotions. Therapists can also help you recognize your triggers, so you can learn how you can set boundaries and avoid them.
  • Lifestyle changes - Making certain changes to your lifestyle can help improve your symptoms. Changes such as having a balanced diet, exercising more, and actively working to reduce stress can positively impact your mood.
  • Medication - If medically appropriate, your primary care provider may prescribe antidepressants as part of your treatment plan. Antidepressants can take time to work, and it may take a few tries to find the right medication for you. It’s important to regularly check in with your healthcare provider so they can adjust the dosage and monitor your improvement as necessary.
  • Self-care strategies - Practicing self-care is another great way to improve your mood and manage symptoms. Strategies such as yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises may be beneficial for your treatment plan.

Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor questions about your treatment plan. It’s important to understand their reasoning and how they expect treatment to affect you. A treatment plan will likely involve a combination of the above approaches, so remember to be patient as you progress and listen to your doctor’s expertise to ensure you get the best treatment possible for your situation.

Addressing Concerns and Questions about Depression

We talked a little bit about asking your doctor questions and bringing up concerns during your appointment. But it’s worth diving into this subject a little deeper. Getting information and advice from a medical professional is invaluable when treating depression, and getting answers can make you feel less apprehensive about your condition and the approach to treatment. With that being said, here are some tips on how to address questions and concerns during your appointment:

  • Write them down beforehand - As mentioned, you should write down your questions and concerns ahead of the appointment so you don’t forget. This will also help you be clear and concise when asking your questions.
  • Ask for clarification - Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to clarify. It’s important for you to understand everything they’re saying when it comes to your condition and possible treatment options. 
  • Talk about side effects - If your doctor thinks prescriptions are the right way to go, don’t be afraid to ask about the medication. Learn the side effects and possible interactions it may have. Ask your doctor when you should be concerned about side effects.
  • Give your input - If you have ideas for treatment options that you think may help, don’t hesitate to bring them up with your doctor. Although your doctor will create the best treatment plan possible with the information provided, you can still be your own advocate for care.

Remember, your healthcare provider wants to support you on your journey to healing. Asking questions and addressing concerns will make sure you are both on the same page.

Setting Up Support

Once you have your treatment plan in place, setting up a support network for yourself is also helpful. Your doctor and a therapist are a great start, but friends and family are also helpful to lean on for support.

Letting friends and family know about your struggles with depression can give you resources to talk to when you’re feeling low. Other great resources for support include support groups or online forums with people also struggling with depression. Having a strong community can help you feel less alone during your treatment and have a support system to fall back on when needed.

As discussed, remember to also engage in self-care during the healing process. Being gentle with yourself and making space for relaxing activities that you enjoy can help manage symptoms throughout your mental health journey.

Talk to a Telehealth Provider Today

Telehealth is an ideal primary care solution for those struggling with depression or other mental health conditions. A board-certified telehealth provider can provide you with diagnoses, treatment, and prescriptions when medically necessary, just like in-person providers. Your provider can also provide referrals to therapists or psychiatrists if it is right for your treatment plan.

Additionally, you get the benefits of receiving care from the comfort of your home, avoiding the inconveniences of going to the doctor.

Get Treatment with Circle Medical

Circle Medical is a telehealth clinic where you can speak to a board-certified primary care provider in a safe, compassionate space to discuss and diagnose common mental health-related issues, including depression.

With Circle Medical, you can use a convenient in-app portal to speak with your provider, see your treatment plan, message support, and more. Circle Medical also offers same-day appointments, so you can begin your wellness journey today. Schedule your appointment to get started.

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