If I'm depressed, what questions should I ask a potential therapist?

John Preston, PsyD
Questions you might want to ask a potential therapist include:
- Do you have experience treating depression?

- What is your primary treatment method? (If you
know what type of therapeutic method you’re looking
for, let the therapist know that, and ask if he or she has
experience with using that type of treatment.)

- How much will the treatment cost?

- Do you accept my type of insurance?

- If you feel that it is indicated, do you treat patients
with depression with antidepressant medications or
make a referral for such treatment?

- What medical tests do you recommend for depressed
patients? [Note: This should include a general medical
exam, standard lab tests and in particular thyroid
screening, because about 10 percent of people with
depression have thyroid disease, either obvious or
subtle, and competent therapists should know this. If
no medical tests are recommended, this person may
not be a seasoned therapist, in terms of comprehen-
sive treatment for depression.]

- In your experience, when you have treated depressed
patients and they have had little or no response to
treatment, what are your specific strategies and further
treatment recommendations? [Note: This final ques-
tion is a good one to determine if a potential therapist
truly knows about the treatment of depression. This
question really explores the experience and compe-
tence of the therapist. The fact is that about 33 percent
of people seeking treatment for depression have very
good outcomes from standardized treatments (psy-
chotherapy and/or a trial on antidepressant medi-
cations). The other two-thirds of patients often do
respond to treatments, but need more aggressive treatments, a combination of treatments, such as systematic trials on various antidepressants or a combination of medication treatments, or adjunctive treatments, such as exercise, bright light therapy, and psychotherapy.]
Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

More About this Book

Depression 101: A Practical Guide to Treatments, Self-Help Strategies, and Preventing Relapse

When you have depression, it can feel like there's no way out. To begin changing the way you feel, you'll need an arsenal of proven techniques for lifting your mood and preventing relapse. The...

Continue Learning about Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living With Depression

Living with depression can feel like a challenge, but with the right tools, you can learn to successfully manage your condition. It's important to follow the recommendations of your primary healthcare provider, take any depression ...

medication as prescribed and utilize the social supports around you. It's also important to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and keep track of your depression symptoms.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.