General Psychiatry

Tips for Talking With Your Psychiatrist

Here are some tips to help prepare and guide you on how to talk to your Psychiatrist about your mental health and get the most out of your visit.

  • 1. Prepare Ahead Of Your Visit.

    Psychiatrists have a limited amount of time for each appointment. Think of your questions or concerns beforehand, and write them down.

    Prepare a list of your medications. It’s important to tell your Psychiatrist about all the medications you’re taking, including herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements.

    Review your family history. Certain mental illnesses tend to run in families, and having a close relative with a mental disorder could mean you’re at a higher risk. Knowing your family mental health history can help you determine whether you are at a higher risk for certain disorders. It also can help your doctor to look for early warning signs.

  • 2. Consider Bringing A Family Member Or A Friend. 

    Sometimes it’s helpful to bring a relative or a close friend to your appointment. It can be difficult to absorb all the information the doctor shares, especially if you are not feeling well.

    Your family member can be there for support, help you take notes, and remember what you and the doctor discussed. They also might be able to offer input to your doctor about how they think you are doing.

  • 3. Be Honest. 

    Your Psychiatrist can help you get better only if you have clear and honest communication. It is important to remember that communications between you and a Psychiatrist are private and confidential and cannot be shared with anyone without your expressed permission.
    Describe all your symptoms with your doctor, and be specific about when they started, how severe they are, and how often they occur.

    You also should share any major stresses or recent life changes that could be triggering symptoms. 
    Examples of symptoms include: 

    • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
    • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
    • Irritability
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Appetite or weight changes (or both)
    • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
    • Decreased energy or fatigue
    • Moving or talking more slowly
    • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
    • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
    • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
  • 4. Ask Questions

    If you have questions or even doubts about a diagnosis or treatment your Psychiatrist gives, ask for more information. If your doctor suggests a treatment you’re not comfortable or familiar with, express your concerns and ask if there are other options. You also may want to get another opinion from a different Psychiatrist. It’s important to remember that there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. You may need to try different treatments, or a combination of treatments, before finding one that works best for you.