When you call your primary care doctor to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a psychiatrist. If you're in danger of killing yourself, your doctor may have you get emergency help at the hospital.
What you can do
Take these steps before your appointment:
- Make a list of key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins and other supplements that you're taking, and the doses.
- Ask a family member or friend to the appointment if possible — someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Could my suicidal thoughts be linked to an underlying mental or physical health problem?
- Will I need any tests for possible underlying conditions?
- Do I need immediate treatment of some kind? What will that involve?
- What are the alternatives to the approach that you're suggesting?
- I have these other mental or physical health problems. How can I best manage them together?
- Is there anything I can do to stay safe and feel better?
- Should I see a psychiatrist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask additional questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to save time to go over topics you want to focus on.
- When did you first begin having suicidal thoughts?
- Have your suicidal thoughts been continuous or occasional?
- Have you ever tried to take your own life?
- Do you have a plan to kill yourself?
- If you have a plan, does it involve a specific method, place or time?
- Have you made any preparations, such as gathering pills or writing suicide notes?
- Do you feel like you can control your impulses when you feel like killing or hurting yourself?
- Do you have friends or family members you can talk to or go to for help?
- Do you drink alcohol, and if so, how much and how often?
- What medications do you take?
- Do you use recreational drugs?
- What, if anything, helps you deal with your suicidal thoughts?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your suicidal thoughts?
- What are your feelings about the future? Do you have any hope that things will improve?
What you can do in the meantime
If you've scheduled an appointment and can't see your doctor immediately, make sure you stay safe. Contact family members, friends or other people you trust to help you. If you feel you're in danger of hurting yourself or attempting suicide, call 911 or get emergency help immediately.
May 19, 2015
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- Palmer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 7, 2015.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 11, 2015.
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