By Claire Raymond

Going to the doctor for the first time to talk about your depression can be a very scary thing. Many people put it off because they feel afraid that they will be judged or they won’t be taken seriously. Some people are also afraid that they will be put on tablets for the rest of their lives. And whilst all of these are legitimate concerns, they are less and less likely to happen nowadays. Mental health is being taken much more seriously and doctors are keen to work with patients, rather than just medicating them.

  • Try not to worry too much, I know that is easier than it sounds, but they are not there to judge and they do want to help you. No one will think less of you because of anything you say to them.
  • Be open and honest with your doctor, they can’t help you properly unless you are totally honest with them. If you lie to them or tell them things are okay when they are not then they will not be able to help you at all.
  • Don’t try to play down how you are feeling. This is always a temptation but the doctor needs to know exactly how you are feeling in order to treat you effectively.
  • They will ask you a lot of questions which can seem very personal and intrusive, but they need to be asked. You will be asked if you have had thoughts of suicide, and if you have then you need to say yes. I can’t stress this enough, these feelings need to be addressed.
  • You might be asked to come back quite a bit after your initial consultation. This might seem a little bit inconvenient at first but depression is not a straight line and so monitoring you closely for a little while can be very beneficial to both you and the doctor.
  • Based on what you have told the doctor, they may decide to prescribe you antidepressants. They will use a combination of their knowledge and what you have said to them to establish which antidepressant will be right for you.
  • You may be offered counselling or therapy. You don’t have to take it, but if you do then you will be referred and then contacted by the counsellor or therapist.
  • Your medication will be monitored and you should be called in for a review at intervals determined by your doctor. This practice should continue. I have been on antidepressants for 11 years and I am still called in for a review once a year.

Of course, all of this works on the assumption that you have a good doctor, and the chances are you will. But if you are not happy with the standard of care you receive from your doctor then you need to make a complaint to the NHS and make an appointment with a different doctor. Be persistent, you deserve proper care and you also deserve to be taken seriously.

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