What To Expect When Seeing A Doctor For Depression

It can be scary if you haven't been feeling like yourself lately, and it could be even more intimidating to reach out to someone for help. However, speaking with a doctor at the first sign of something being off is important, and knowing what to expect may ease some anxiety you may be experiencing.

Many life events can potentially trigger a depressive episode. For example, depression can be triggered by loss and grief from losing a loved one to death or a painful breakup. Mental health can also be negatively affected by losses that are not people, like losing a job, a home, or a pet. As further described by Verywell Health, depression can even be triggered by seemingly positive life changes, like graduating from university or moving to a new town.

There are some signals of depression that one might notice in themselves, or that family and friends might observe. According to MedBroadcast, a person should contact their doctor if they have been experiencing daily sadness and fatigue, they're becoming easily agitated and annoyed, don't feel pleasure from activities they once enjoyed, they're crying frequently, or have trouble concentrating and making decisions. 

If someone has been struggling with suicidal thoughts or urges, it is vital to reach out to a doctor as soon as possible. Individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts can also speak to someone confidentially by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available to talk and listen 24 hours a day and seven days a week. 

What happens when you see a doctor for depression?

If you notice these symptoms, a primary care doctor can help you navigate what to do next and determine whether you may be experiencing depression. Symptoms of other medical conditions can resemble those of depression, so your doctor will make sure to rule out any medical contributors, like low blood sugar (per Verywell Mind). To eliminate other possibilities, your doctor will conduct a physical examination and may perform blood tests. They may ask a series of questions to measure the severity of your symptoms and provide you with a self-assessment like the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), as shared by the American Psychological Association

If your doctor finds no medical explanation for your symptoms, you could receive a referral to see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists specialize in the diagnosis of mental disorders and can assist in finding suitable treatment options (per Healthline). According to Healthline, a psychiatrist may ask you personal questions to diagnose your symptoms, and you don't have to share anything that you are not ready to share. It's completely acceptable to communicate with your psychiatrist if you are uncomfortable answering any questions. The psychiatrist will then discuss treatment options that may relieve your symptoms, like antidepressants or therapy.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.