A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner who is specially educated and trained to diagnose and treat mental health issues. People suffering from a range of mental and emotional conditions can avail help from a psychiatrist and get their life back on track. However, it is important to be treated by a specialist who has the right skills and experience. At the same time, you need to know how to handle your first appointment and the subsequent ones too. A patient who is aware about the right questions to ask is well-armed to get better diagnosis and treatment. Here are a few tips that will help you know what to expect at your first psychiatrist appointment.
1.Gather complete information before the appointment
The first and perhaps the most important thing to do would be to gather complete information about the psychiatrist you choose for your treatment. Look for the right credentials and experience. Find out referrals and read online reviews to check their track record and quality of services they provide. A psychiatrist should possess the basic skill set comprising of the ability to assess the patient’s mental health, diagnose the problem and treat it with medication and psychological treatments.
2.Have your list of questions ready
You should try to make the most of your first appointment. The best way to do this is to have all your questions and concerns penned down on paper. Most people tend to suffer from stress and forget things as soon as they enter the practitioner’s chamber. Having a list on paper is a great idea to deal with the situation. Take note of your symptoms, family history, past treatment and anything else you would like to discuss with the specialist.
3.Write down what the psychiatrist has to say
A Psychiatrist in Atlanta or elsewhere will have a lot to say on the first appointment. From discussing your symptoms to analyzing them for diagnostic possibilities and considering future treatment options, the topics would be extensive. It is most likely that you would forget half of them as soon as you step out. So it is better to have a notepad handy and jot down everything you consider important. Once you have every piece of information, you can use it for research or a second opinion.
4.Be ready for a physical examination
Even though the psychiatrist is the doctor of the mind, you can expect a physical examination on your first appointment. The provider will probably measure your vital stats such as the pulse, blood pressure and weight. A physical checkup is done to evaluate the overall health status. More diagnostic tests will also be recommended depending on your problems and condition. Further, there is a need to have a completely honest and transparent relationship with the provider. Tell them about any other health conditions, both current and past, and the medications you are or have been taking for them. At the same time, you can clarify any doubts or ask any questions you have.
5.End the appointment with a plan
An expert psychiatrist is the one who has a tailored treatment strategy designed according to the patient’s specific condition. The plan should have a well-chalked out guidelines about the use of mental health medications, psychological therapies and any other forms of treatment to alleviate the condition effectively. You should also expect anticipated treatment timelines and results from the practitioner.
The first appointment with your psychiatrist should be a positive experience that channelizes open communication and builds mutual trust. It is also the opportunity to judge the expertise of the professional and understand the kind of relationship you can build with them in future.
Amila Gamage Wickramarachchi is the founder of this blog where she shares her parenting and lifestyle experiences. She is an engineer and a trainer who works in the construction industry. She is the founder of Sihela Consultants.(www.sihelaconsultants.com)