Going to see a psychiatrist? Make sure you are ready! Before you come in for your first psychiatrist appointment get prepared by answering the following questions. If you do this, we will spend less time recreating your history and more time talking about the reasons you have come in for the psychiatric appointment. If you are seeing a psychiatrist for the first time try to answer these 16 questions before your appointment.
- Why are you are coming in for an appointment now?
- What are the particular things that are bothering you?
- What would you like help with?
- How far are you from your baseline?
- How would you describe your normal personality? Are you more a cup half-full person or cup half-empty?
- When did you start feeling bad?
- When was the last time you felt happy?
Try to learn as much as you can about your family’s medical and psychiatric history. In some families, mental health is a taboo topic and not openly discussed. Try to think if there is one person who may be easier to talk to and ask them.
Knowing your family history before your psychiatric appointment can help us to come up with a more accurate diagnosis and plan.
- Does anyone in your family have any psychiatric history?
- Is anyone seeing a psychiatrist? Have they been hospitalized?
- Has anyone been treated with medication? If so, which medicine and was it effective?
If you are going to see a psychiatrist, think about your own past mental health history. If you can’t remember details, ask your family if they remember. You can also contact your previous psychiatrist to see if they still have records.
- Have you seen a psychiatrist before? If you have, find out their contact information (especially their fax number!).
- Have you been in therapy? Was it helpful? What did you like or not like about it?
- Have you been treated with medication before? Was it helpful?
If you are struggling to come up with your medication history see if you can get it from your pharmacy. I have had people be able to get a medication printout for the previous 10 years. Although it can be cumbersome to sort through, it can provide valuable history.
Write up a general timeline for your history and the medicine you have tried. Details to include on the timeline are:
- Approximate dates you took medication and why you took it.
- What were the doses of the medication?
- Were there any side effects? Any benefits?
If we have a list of your past medications, we can come up with a more accurate picture of what works for you and what doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t need to have everything figured out and conceptualized before your first psychiatric appointment. The more questions from this list that you are able to answer before you come in, the more time we get to talk about why you are seeing a psychiatrist. Its win-win!
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