Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Whether you schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor 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.

What you can do

  • Write down any symptoms you or people close to you have noticed, and for how long.
  • Write down key personal information, including traumatic events in your past and any current, major stressors.
  • Make a list of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions and the names and amounts of medications, herbal remedies or supplements you take.
  • Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who has known you for a long time may be able to share important information with the doctor or mental health professional, with your permission.

Write down a list of questions to ask. These may 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 counseling or psychotherapy 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?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask questions anytime you don't understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

During your appointment, your doctor or mental health provider is likely to ask you a number of questions about your mood, thoughts and behavior. You may be asked such questions 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 biological (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 illegal drugs?
Sep. 15, 2012