Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Whether you schedule an appointment with your primary care provider to talk about mental health concerns or you're referred to a mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, take steps to prepare for your appointment.

If possible, take a family member or friend along. Someone who has known you for a long time may be able to share important information with your heath care provider, with your permission.

What you can do

Before your appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you or people close to you have noticed, and for how long
  • Key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any current, major stressors
  • Your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions
  • Any medications, vitamins, herbal products or other supplements you take, and their doses
  • Questions to ask your doctor or mental health provider

Questions to ask include:

  • What type of mental illness might I have?
  • Why can't I get over mental illness on my own?
  • How do you treat my type of mental illness?
  • Will talk therapy help?
  • Are there medications that might help?
  • How long will treatment take?
  • What can I do to help myself?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
  • What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions.

What to expect from your doctor

During your appointment, your doctor or mental health provider is likely to ask you several questions about your mood, thoughts and behavior, such as:

  • When did you first notice symptoms?
  • How is your daily life affected by your symptoms?
  • What treatment, if any, have you had for mental illness?
  • What have you tried on your own to feel better or control your symptoms?
  • What things make you feel worse?
  • Have family members or friends commented on your mood or behavior?
  • Do you have blood relatives with a mental illness?
  • What do you hope to gain from treatment?
  • What medications or over-the-counter herbs and supplements do you take?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use recreational drugs?
Oct. 13, 2015