Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by first seeing your primary care doctor, but you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in brain and nervous system disorders (neurologist) or a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders (psychiatrist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and learn what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for your appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications, vitamins and other supplements that you're taking, including dosages
  • Questions to ask your doctor

Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.

Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • Do I need any tests to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What treatments are available? Which do you recommend?
  • Are there alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
  • Do I need to see a specialist?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What appears to worsen your symptoms?
  • Do you have any long-term (chronic) health conditions?
  • Do you have any mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
  • What medications or herbal supplements do you take?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use street drugs?
May. 24, 2014

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