Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you're seeking help for someone with mental illness, you may start by seeing his or her family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a psychiatrist.

What you can do

To prepare for the appointment, make a list of:

  • Any symptoms your loved one is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for the appointment
  • Key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes
  • Medications, vitamins, herbs and other supplements that he or she is taking, including the dosage
  • Questions to ask the doctor

Go with your loved one to the appointment. Getting the information firsthand will help you know what you're facing and what you need to do for your loved one.

For schizophrenia, some basic questions to ask the doctor include:

  • What's likely causing the symptoms or condition?
  • What are other possible causes for the symptoms or condition?
  • What kinds of tests are needed?
  • Is this condition likely temporary or lifelong?
  • What's the best treatment?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
  • How can I be most helpful and supportive?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?

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

What to expect from the doctor

The doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:

  • What are your loved one's symptoms, and when did you first notice them?
  • Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Has your loved one talked about suicide?
  • How is your loved one functioning in daily life — is he or she eating regularly, going to work or school, bathing regularly?
  • Has your loved one been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
  • What medications is your loved one currently taking?
Jan. 24, 2014