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Do some soul-searching.     "People often obtain drugs after very cursory appointments where vitally important distinctions are not made," says Joseph Glenmullen, MD, a clinical instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. A proper intake interview should last at least 50 minutes, he says. "If someone is offering you a prescription after 15, something is seriously wrong."

Antidepressants are serious drugs that have profound effects on brain chemistry. It is up to you to try to distinguish temporary stress or grief from the relentless symptoms of clinical depression. Ask someone who knows you very well—a good friend or relative—to help you assess your condition:

  • Have you experienced a significant change in your ability to function?
  • Do you have ongoing feelings of extreme sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness?

If the answer is yes, a good approach is to make an appointment with a psychologist who can help you evaluate treatment options. She may refer you to a psychiatrist if she suspects that drugs will be helpful.
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