6 Tips for Talking to Your Doctor If You Think You Have SAD
As the weather gets colder and the days get darker, you can feel yourself slipping into the “winter blues.”
You want to sleep longer each morning, your appetite changes, and you may be more irritable than usual. If you experience these symptoms around the same time every year, you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Getting the right treatment for SAD can mean the difference between a long slog to spring and being able to manage your moods and function properly all year long.
If you think you may have SAD, the first step is proper diagnosis so you can get the right treatment. Here are 6 tips for talking to your doctor if you think you may have SAD:
Visit a PCP
When you think you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression, it seems logical to head straight for a therapist or psychiatrist, right?
While you may eventually be referred to a mental health professional for treatment, your first port of call in getting a diagnosis needs to be your general practice doctor.
Primary care physicians are trained to look at the person holistically, evaluating for potential physical reasons there may be a problem as well as considering psychological reasons. Your PCP can provide the initial screenings and make referrals to mental health practitioners or other specialists for further testing and treatment.
Starting with your family doctor can help you find out whether your symptoms are truly the result of SAD or if there may be another reason or variety of reasons for your issues.
Have a Goal in Mind
Go into your appointment with some idea of the end goal in mind. For most people, that will be to have a diagnosis and plan of treatment to help them feel better faster.
However, don’t go into your initial conversation with your doctor expecting to be given a diagnosis and treatment right away; if you do this, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Instead, plan for a few simple, short-term goals for your appointment, such as expressing your concerns and leaving your doctor’s office with some sort of a plan for moving forward. This plan could be referrals for testing, scheduled follow-up appointments, or the suggestion to see a mental health professional.
Setting realistic expectations for your early advocacy for yourself helps manage your response and keep you moving forward even when it seems as if you don’t have any solid answers.
Your doctor cannot help you if they don’t know that you’re struggling.
Unlike a broken arm or rash, your physician cannot tell just by looking at you that you may be suffering from SAD. You have to speak up and advocate for yourself.
When your doctor asks you if anything’s bothering you (and they should), take a deep breath and bring up the symptoms you’ve noticed in yourself. Say you think you may have SAD, and list the reasons why.
Your doctor should listen to what you say, take your concerns seriously, and ask you follow-up questions.
If you want a specific result, such as to create a plan for diagnosis, make this known during your initial conversation. While your doctor should help you by creating a plan for at least the next steps, you may have to speak up and ask for what you want.
Make It a Priority
Don’t expect that your symptoms will just “come up” during your appointment. Instead, put them at the forefront.
If you’re at all worried you won’t bring up your problems during your appointment, consider making an appointment with “discuss depression symptoms” or something similar as the stated reason for your appointment. That way, your desire to talk about your symptoms is in your chart from the moment the doctor walks in the room, and there’s no chance you’ll forget or just not bring things up.
Be Prepared for Testing
Getting a complete diagnosis for your symptoms is important, and that can mean you have to undergo additional screenings and tests.
For example, your doctor may want to make sure that your fatigue is truly the result of possible SAD and not due to a medical condition, so they may order blood tests. You also may be referred to other specialists for testing or screening before you ever receive a definitive diagnosis.
To give you the best possible chance of success in any future treatment, you want to find the most complete, accurate diagnosis possible. That may mean exhausting a bunch of options before arriving at a diagnosis.
Yes, it can be frustrating to have to go through a battery of appointments and tests and wait for an answer, but being patient and getting the best possible diagnosis only benefits you in the long run.
Be a Persistent Advocate for Yourself
Dealing with issues relating to your mental health can be frustrating, especially when you just want to feel better as soon as possible. Sometimes, it can feel as if no one is listening to you.
If you feel that your concerns are being brushed aside by your provider, you need to speak up. If the provider still doesn’t listen, you may need to find a new provider.
In addition, make sure that you’re following up and checking on appointment scheduling, test results, and other items related to your diagnosis and treatment. Unfortunately, you may have to shoulder a lot of the burden for getting yourself treated, but it will be worthwhile in the end.
Bright Light Therapy Boxes for SAD
Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder can be frustrating and draining. You just want to be able to do all the things you used to do, but you can’t. If you suffer from fatigue, irritability, unexplained sadness, or other symptoms, bright light therapy may help.
At the Sunbox Company, it is our goal to help all our customers find the right bright light therapy boxes to meet their needs. Just 30 minutes per day can help make a big difference in your sleep, mood, appetite, and more, helping you weather the winter more effectively. Get your Sunbox today!