Preparing for your appointment

If you're seeking help for someone with schizophrenia, you may start by seeing his or her family doctor or health care professional. 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 dosages
  • 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 any other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

The doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Anticipating some of these questions can help make the discussion productive. Questions may include:

  • What are your loved one's symptoms, and when did you first notice them?
  • Has anyone else in your family been diagnosed with schizophrenia?
  • Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Has your loved one talked about suicide?
  • How well does your loved one function 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?