Preparing for your appointment

If you think you may have schizoaffective disorder or that your loved one may have it, take steps to prepare for the appointment, whether it's with a primary care doctor or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist.

If the appointment is for a relative or friend, offer to go with him or her. Getting the information firsthand will help you know what you're facing and how you can help your loved one.

What you can do

To prepare for the appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms you've noticed, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • All medications, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, herbal preparations and any other supplements, and the doses
  • Questions to ask the doctor to help you make the most of your time

Some basic questions to ask include:

  • What is likely causing the symptoms?
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • How will you determine the diagnosis?
  • Is this condition likely temporary or long term?
  • What treatments do you recommend?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • What are the side effects of the medication you're prescribing?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have?
  • What websites do you recommend?

Don't hesitate to ask any other questions during the appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask several questions, such as:

  • What symptoms have you noticed?
  • When did you start noticing symptoms?
  • Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Have you thought about or attempted suicide?
  • How are you functioning in daily life — are you eating regularly, bathing regularly, going to work, school or social activities?
  • Have other family members or friends expressed concern about your behavior?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • Has anyone else in your family been diagnosed with or treated for mental illness?

Be ready to answer these questions so you'll have time to go over any other points you want to focus on.