The thought of seeing a psychiatrist can be intimidating. In the media, psychiatrists are often portrayed as cold, clinical, and distant. While some psychiatrists live up to that stereotype, almost all are warm and genuinely want to help their clients. Since many factors are involved in seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, being prepared is a top priority. These 5 tips will help you get the most out of your appointment.
Fill out paperwork in advance.
Seeing any new doctor means filling out paperwork. This is especially true when you are planning to see a psychiatrist. Not only will they request basic health information like your height, blood pressure, and pre-existing conditions, the psychiatrist and their nurses will also pose questions that you might not have considered.
When scheduling your appointment, ask the nurse or receptionist if you can fill out any forms in advance. Some doctors will direct you to an online survey-like response page while others might mail you papers to fill out ahead of time. Do not be concerned if the nurse or receptionist says no; you will have plenty of time to give your information once you arrive.
Write down your thoughts and questions before the appointment.
When you sit down with your new psychiatrist, nerves might override your ability to express your thoughts and feelings concisely. One way to make sure you communicate well during your visit is to have a physical list or summary of your needs. You can share this with your psychiatrist by reading it aloud or handing it directly to the doctor for them to read. This gives the doctor a place to start; they will most likely ask follow-up questions, but having a starting point will help guide the discussion. Writing down your thoughts in advance will also help you pinpoint what you want to focus on during the session.
Expect to spend several hours at the office during your first visit.
It is no secret that psychiatrists are in demand. Even if most paperwork can be filled out in advance, you will need to handle payments and have your vitals taken. Arriving 30 minutes before your appointment time should make things move a little faster, but you could end up waiting to be called back for quite a while. It is a good idea to bring a book or tablet with you to pass the time. If you decide to listen to music, keep one earbud out so that the nurse can easily catch your attention.
Be ready to tell the truth.
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it can be difficult to admit to a stranger what your concerns are about your mental health even if you are talking to a medical professional. The doctor has your best interests at heart, but they cannot help you if you hold things back. Most psychiatrists have heard many things during their time practicing medicine, and very little will shock them. This is your time to tell the truth so that you can receive the care you need. Psychiatrists are bound by the same privacy laws as other medical professionals.
Remember that you are in charge.
The psychiatrist may hold multiple degrees in mental health, medicine, and counseling, but it is still your decision whether or not you feel comfortable taking their advice. No one can force you to visit that doctor again; if it is not the right fit, you have the right to seek out a different psychiatrist. That said, it is important to listen to what the doctor says and carefully think through what they suggest. Before making any major decisions, allow yourself to take a step back and rest. When you feel ready, go back over the information with fresh eyes. If you have an established relationship with a counselor, consider talking through the details of your appointment during your next session.
Taking care of your mental health is not an easy task, and advocating for yourself can be difficult. Although planning to see a psychiatrist is often daunting, talking with a doctor is an important part of caring for yourself. Preparing both mentally and physically for your appointment may lessen anxiety and allow you to focus on the most important part of your visit: getting professional advice on how to improve your mental well-being. These tips will pay off when you are ready to schedule your first visit. If you have questions or concerns, reach out to your provider. Their goal is to help you succeed; no question is too big or small for them to answer.