You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred directly to a psychiatrist.
What you can do
To prepare for your appointment, make a list of:
- Any symptoms you or your family has noticed. Include how long you've had the symptoms.
- Key personal information. Include any traumatic events in your past and current, major stressors.
- Your medical information. Include other physical or mental health conditions, as well as family history.
- All medications and doses. Include prescription and nonprescription drugs, vitamins, or other supplements that you're taking.
- Questions to ask your doctor. Having a list prepared can help you make the most of your time together.
Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Someone who has known you for a long time may be able to ask questions or share information with the doctor that you don't remember to bring up.
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- What are other possible causes?
- Is my condition likely temporary or long term?
- How could treatment help me?
- What types of treatments may be effective for me?
- Are there medications that can help?
- If you're recommending medications, what are the possible side effects?
- How much can I expect my symptoms to improve with treatment?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there brochures or other printed materials that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
In addition to the questions you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
To start a discussion about your mental health, your doctor may ask questions such as:
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- What are the problems or symptoms that concern you?
- How much do these symptoms bother you?
- Have you noticed that your symptoms get worse in certain situations? If yes, what are those situations, and how do you handle them?
- Do you have close friends or family? If no, does it bother you?
- How would you describe yourself?
- Do you frequently choose to do things by yourself?
- Do you confide in anyone who is not in your immediate family?
- What do you prefer to do in your free time?
- Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others? Have you ever actually done so?
- Have your family members or friends expressed concern about your behavior?
- Have any of your close relatives been diagnosed with or treated for mental illness?
- Do you drink alcohol or use drugs? If so, how often?
- Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com/resourceToc.aspx?resourceID=5. Accessed April 29, 2013.
- Personality disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org/content.aspx?bookid=556§ionid=41101784#10344200. Accessed June 18, 2013.
- Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=10. Accessed April 29, 2013.
- Skodol A, et al. Approaches to the therapeutic relationship in patients with personality disorders. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 27, 2013.
- Stern TA, et al. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04743-2..50041-X--cesec5&isbn=978-0-323-04743-2&sid=1451253590&uniqId=414361381-3#4-u1.0-B978-0-323-04743-2..50041-X--cesec8. Accessed April 27, 2013.
- Gabbard GO. Gabbard's Treatments of Psychiatric Disorders. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2007. http://psychiatryonline.org/content.aspx?bookid=4§ionid=1341864. Accessed April 29, 2013.
- Triebwasser J, et al. Schizoid personality disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders. 2012;26:919.
- Feldman MD, et al. Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=6441825. Accessed April 29, 2013.
- Palmer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 17, 2013.