Preparing for your appointment

As a first step, your doctor may ask you to come in for a thorough exam to rule out possible physical causes of your symptoms. However, in some cases you may be referred immediately to a psychiatrist. You may want to take a family member or friend along, if possible, to help you remember information.

Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you're experiencing, including any recent behavior that caused confusion or concern for you or your loved ones.
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes. Also note events from your past, including your childhood, that caused physical or emotional trauma. If you can't recall some periods of your life, note the time frame and anything you can remember about the period leading up to your amnesia.
  • Your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions you have. Include any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements you're taking, and the dosages.
  • Questions to ask your doctor to make the most of your time together

Some questions to ask your doctor may include:

  • What's likely causing my symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes?
  • How will you determine my diagnosis?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or long term (chronic)?
  • What treatments do you recommend for this disorder?
  • How much can I expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
  • How will you monitor my progress?
  • I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
  • Should I see a specialist?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
  • What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

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

  • What symptoms concern you or your loved ones?
  • When did you or your loved ones first notice your symptoms?
  • Are there periods of time in your life that you don't remember?
  • Have you ever found yourself some distance away from your home or work, and not known how you got there?
  • Do you ever feel as if you're outside of your body, observing yourself?
  • Do you feel as though there is more than one person, or maybe many people, living inside your head?
  • What other symptoms or behaviors are causing you or your loved ones distress?
  • How often do you feel anxious or depressed?
  • Have your symptoms caused problems in your work or your personal relationships?
  • Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?
  • Do you now or have you ever served in the military?
  • Have you ever been touched against your will?
  • Were you physically abused or neglected as a child?
  • Was anyone in your family abused during your childhood?
  • Are you currently being treated for any other medical conditions, including mental health disorders?
Feb. 16, 2017
References
  1. Dissociative disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
  2. Dissociative disorders. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Dissociative-Disorders. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
  3. Dissociative disorders. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/dissociative-disorders/what-are-dissociative-disorders. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
  4. Dissociative disorders. Merck Manuals Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/dissociative-disorders/overview-of-dissociative-disorders. Accessed Oct. 11, 2016.
  5. Palmer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 30, 2016.