Tip 2: Prepare for the Appointment
You want to make your first appointment with your new psychiatrist as productive as possible. To achieve this, reflect on the reasons why you’re getting mental health support. Be specific. Make sure you clearly know and understand what you want from your upcoming journey.
Some possible notes that can help your new online psychiatrist understand you better include:
- “I am lonely all the time, even when I’m around others.”
- “I hate my husband’s voice.”
- “I cannot tolerate the sound of my baby crying.”
- “I have unexpressed sexual desires that frighten me.”
- “I get so angry sometimes that I go into a mad rage!”
- “I cry at every type of social gathering, even if it’s a happy one.”
- “I can’t let go of my [anger/grief/resentment] over [specific experience].”
- “I hate myself.”
The possibilities are endless, and there’s no right or wrong reason to seek psychiatric help. The more you can share with your psychiatrist, the more equipped they’ll be to diagnose and treat you.
Here are some best practices if you’re trying to figure out how to talk to a psychiatrist for the first time:
- Be prepared for the doctor to ask you pressing questions
- Don’t fear the psychiatrist — their job is to help without bias
- It’s normal and fine to cry, get angry, or experience other emotions
- Focus on clear communication, just the way you practice in your mind
- It’s common to sometimes feel awkward the first time you’re talking to a psychiatrist
Many people who seek help from a psychiatrist are trying to manage mental health conditions like schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), major depressive disorder (MDD), or anxiety disorder.
Your psychiatrist will also look to your physical health and how that may affect your mental health. Bring information about your family history of mental health, any other medications you may be taking, and general health questions. Your psychiatrist may also have you get a blood test to rule out any other factors that could be influencing your mental health.
Remember, chances are, you’re talking to a psychiatrist about something they’ve heard before. They’re trained to offer professional advice about improving your situation through medication and to recommend therapy techniques that may be best suited to treat your condition.
Make a list of what you want to cover
Knowing how to talk to a psychiatrist means being crystal clear about what you want to focus on. Write down any feelings, thoughts, or questions you have for your psychiatrist. It’s common to arrive at your first psychiatry appointment and promptly forget what you intended to address. It happens all the time.
“Talk freely and be honest, that’s the best you can do to get better fast.”
To get the most out of it, take a few minutes to create a list of topics or symptoms you want to address at that first appointment. You can even just jot down your thoughts on a notepad. Getting organized will help ensure you remember to cover everything you want the psychiatrist to know about how you’re feeling or what you’re experiencing.
Much of the first visit will be the doctor getting to know you, your goals, and your history. Coming in prepared is key to getting things off on the right foot. You can even bring in two copies of your notes — one for the doctor and one for yourself. This way, you can both be sure to focus and stay productive when you’re there.