I often hear my patients saying they have been putting away their appointments as they feel nervous about seeing a psychiatrist. Many times they don’t know what to expect or where to begin. Thus, preparing for your appointment may help you and you will be more relaxed when seeking a consultation.
1. Come prepared with your psychiatric history and medical history.
Write down your symptoms. The way you feel, your thoughts, any triggers, any physical symptoms. Writing them down can help you narrate all that you experience as you may forget to mention some points in the clinic. Any similar experience in the past will also guide your doctor. Mental health illness in family members is also significant.
Do mention to your doctor if you have any medical illness. This is important in terms of the medication that maybe prescribed to you.
2. Get your previous medical records.
It is important to carry previous records of medical and psychiatric illness. This includes the doctors notes and or prescriptions and also any investigations (blood reports and or psychological assessment ) that may have been done.
3.Get someone along with you.
Being accompanied by a family member or a friend whom you trust can be a source of support for you. They may also help by giving their perspective of the symptoms and things that you are experiencing.
4.Be prepared for the psychiatrist to ask you many questions.
Most often the questions are open ended. A good Psychiatrist will always guide you through these questions. Remember, there is truly no right or wrong answer. Be honest in your answers as it will guide your doctor in the diagnosis and treatment.
5.You will experience different emotions.
You may cry during the interview, feel nervous or anxious, awkward or emotionally drained. It is normal to feel that way. It takes courage to express your feelings and you may feel exhausted especially when you have not expressed your emotions before or suppressed them.
6.Do not be afraid to ask questions.
Your doctor will be discussing the diagnosis and the management plan with you. It is alright to ask further questions related to your diagnosis, treatment and any other concerns you may have.
7.Jot down the points your psychiatrist has discussed with you.
After your consultation, you may write what your psychiatrist has discussed regarding the diagnosis and treatment. You may be also asked to record your symptoms, triggers and may have been asked to do certain labs/tests. Make sure you keep a reminder for it and have the reports ready for your follow up appointment. Keep a reminder for taking your medication(if prescribed) and also a reminder for the follow up appointment.
Preparing for your appointment can take off the mental load on you on what to say or where to begin. Even if you are not prepared that is absolutely fine. Your psychiatrist will guide you through the consultation. Remember mental health is a journey. If you have mental health concerns you need to resolve them. It takes courage to seek help.