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Live Well: How to Talk with Your Doctor About Mental Health

May 17, 2024


It is normal to feel disappointed, sad, frustrated, or angry when life does not happen the way you hoped it would. In fact, negative emotions are as natural as positive ones. However, when negative feelings linger for long stretches of time, or disrupt your relationships, it may indicate something more is going on.

Healthcare providers are trained to identify signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. If you have concerns about your mental health, a good next step is to schedule an appointment with your provider and start a conversation.

Here are some possible ways to bring up mental health concerns with your doctor:

  • I think I may be depressed. Do you have suggestions on how to handle that?
  • Is there a mental health or depression screening I can take?
  • What resources can help me understand what I am experiencing?
  • Who is best suited to diagnose my condition?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • I have had thoughts about harming myself. What should I do?

Share specific examples of the symptoms you are experiencing and how often they occur. Describe how those symptoms are affecting your professional work, personal relationships, and day-to-day routines. Provide details about how you have already attempted to manage your symptoms, including prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Your provider may suggest lifestyle changes, self-care strategies, or medication. They may also refer you to someone who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, such as a psychiatrist or mental health therapist.

Talking with your healthcare provider about your mental wellbeing is just like talking about any other health concern. Be honest about how you are feeling and ask about alternative treatment options if you are uncomfortable with the initial recommendations. Likewise, if your treatment plan does not seem to be working for you, be sure to circle back with your provider and ask about alternative options.