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How to handle your first meeting with the psychiatrist

So you have finally made it past that first hurdle of admitting to yourself that you need a professional for your mental health issues, and you want to see a psychiatrist or a shrink as some of us like to call them. However, you are not exactly sure how to go about it and you...

meeting a psychiatrist for the first time

So you have finally made it past that first hurdle of admitting to yourself that you need a professional for your mental health issues, and you want to see a psychiatrist or a shrink as some of us like to call them. However, you are not exactly sure how to go about it and you have a few questions? This article could help with some of those questions and tell you much of what you need to know about your first meeting with the psychiatrist.

How do I go about this?

Note that it will usually take up to an hour or more (mostly more). One of the most difficult things about having a mental illness is actually seeking help, and you might even be questioning if you need it or not.  You should know the following:

  • It is a doctor’s office, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of
  • Make sure you go there with the intention of being committed to your treatment
  • Don’t expect all the answers immediately
  • If you get medications, they might not work immediately, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Having a mental illness does not make you a flawed human being.
  • It’s totally fine to seek help

After booking an appointment, you could take the following steps to help you handle your first meeting with your psychiatrist.

Write down everything you might want to talk about before hand

A lot of people find that it helps to write down the issues that they want to discuss beforehand. This could be very helpful at a first meeting because you might get nervous (this is only normal, it is not every day you decide to talk honestly to a total stranger about your problems) and putting things down before the meeting might help with any details you might forget in the heat of the moment.

You might want to consider taking a loved along with you to this first meeting

Now we all know it is not easy to let your family or loved ones in on your mental health problems, but an understanding loved one could provide a great support system for you during this first visit and maybe even consequently if need be. During the therapy session, they could help fill in some of the blanks you miss while talking about your issues, give a second person perspective and because they know you better and probably live with you, will be able to explain some of your behaviors and moods and other observations better to the psychiatrist. Two heads are always better than one, and just the thought that someone who loves and supports you is with you on this could make talking about things a whole lot easier.

Be open and honest with your psychiatrist

This might seem like the hardest part of this process, but in this case as with most other situations, Honesty really is the best policy. Your psychiatrist will simply not be able to help much if you are not completely honest about your problems. Open up about everything, even if they sound strange, embarrassing or simply unusual. Whether it is a repetitive and unnecessary need to check that doors are securely locked, Nymphomaniac tendencies, an obsessive need for everything to be perfect all the time, or self mutilation etc, Understand that it is not your psychiatrist’s job to judge whatever choices you may have made as a result of your mental health issues, but to help you through your mental health problems. Be rest assured nothing you say will leave the room, it is called doctor-patient confidentiality.

Don’t be Afraid to ask Questions

Don’t be reluctant to ask your psychiatrist questions about anything you are not clear about, no matter how unnecessary it may sound. Inquire about medication options available to you but know that not all mental health problems necessarily require medication to resolve them. Some only require therapy but if you are prescribed Anti-depressants or other medications by your psychiatrist, Ask questions about it, why you should be on this particular medication, how it helps, how long you ought to take it and ask questions about your mental health issue.

What will happen during my first psychiatric appointment?

During your first appoint your psychiatrist will probably:

  • Listen to your Issues, concerns and symptoms
  • Ask questions about your general health
  • Ask about your family history (Here questions about your family will come up: Does anyone else in your family have mental health problems, Do you or did you have family members with a history of mental illness? Etc. Remember to be honest and open!)
  • Take your blood pressure and do a basic physical checkup if required
  • Ask you to fill out a questionnaire  (Source: Yourhealthinmind.org)

What should I talk to my psychiatrist about?

You can talk about everything and anything you feel needs talking about. Your psychiatrist is there to listen without any judgement. If you feel like your psychiatrist is judging you, or you’re getting negative vibes, or you’re uncomfortable with the person, kindly change the psychiatrist. Remember, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and your psychiatrist should never act weird or make you feel less of yourself, no matter what you reveal.

How often should I visit my psychiatrist?

Once or twice a week should be okay, but if you feel you need to see your doctor more often, that is totally fine too. However, most hospitals will give you appointment dates, but if you feel it’s an emergency, you should totally go to the hospital, regardless of your appointment date.

Seeing a psychiatrist is really not as scary as it sounds. Think about it like this: Take away the big scary word “psychiatrist’’ and what really just means is this; You are going to see a doctor who wants to and whose job it is help your mind get better.

 

-Ugwu Uchenna

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8 Comments
  1. Very helpful tips. Thanks for sharing this. Well done team!!!

  2. Avatar Phaytea's Pulse

    This is very insightful… It’s always good to have an idea of what to expect and this post throws enough light. I am better informed and can pass this on to anyone who needs to know as well.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nice post

  4. Really helpful post!

  5. Avatar Kit Hannigan

    I really like what you said about opening up to your psychiatrist wit anything even if they are embarrassing or strange. My daughter has been starting to get blackout episodes, and that is really concerning for me as a parent. I know it’s quite hard for her to be honest about these things for fear that we may start to have a negative image for her, but I’ll be sure to advise her that being honest with her psychiatrist will greatly help us treat her issues.

    1. Shola olaoluwa Shola olaoluwa

      Hello Kit,
      Yeah, it can be difficult for her to open up to her psychiatrist but it’s the only way to get a proper diagnosis and also to get better. Our thoughts are with you. *hugs*

  6. Avatar Hazel Owens

    That’s good to know that if you don’t feel comfortable with a psychiatrist that you can switch to another one. It’s definitely important to have one that you feel comfortable with since you will usually talk about really personal things that you don’t want to be judged for. I wonder if you can have a consultation with a psychiatrist before you hire them so you can make sure you’re comfortable before a session.

  7. Avatar Gary Puntman

    I agree that you should never be afraid to ask questions to your psychiatrist. This could be especially important during your first meeting with them. You need to be clear about any concerns you might have and about what your issues are, like you said. That will help the psychiatrist know what your end goal is and how to best help you achieve that.

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