I’m about to see a psychiatrist for the first time, and I don’t know what to expect. What questions should I ask at my first appointment?
That’s a great question. Before you ask them anything, I would begin by giving them the background on your mental health, which they will probably ask you about. Then you can follow up your history by asking if the symptoms you’re experiencing are disconcerting enough to need an outpatient session. Since every person’s case is different, see what the doctor’s opinion is on prescribing medication for your behaviors.
If they are quick to write you a prescription, or “script,” on your first appointment, I caution you. After a couple frequent visits (they may suggest one or two weeks apart between initial visits), they should understand your temperament better. If your conditions haven’t improved, they’ll probably discuss trying a medication to counter your symptoms.
No matter what, don’t switch or stop medications cold turkey.
This is especially the case with psychotropic drugs. Switching or stopping a psychotropic abruptly could send you into a bigger fit of mental illness, and your doctor should know this. But if for some reason they tell you to switch or stop, do it gradually. After my second consult with a new psychiatrist, she changed my prescribed anti-depressants and it sent me into bipolar psychosis. Not good. The vast majority of the time, you’re much better off dealing with unwanted side effects of the prescribed medicine than immediately shocking your brain to react to a sort of psychiatric malpractice that may send you into psychosis or some other mental breakdown.
Here are some other topics you may want to bring up:
- a referral to a psychotherapist
- the nature of different mental illnesses that your behaviors may be symptomatic of
- your family’s history with mental illness
- things that may be a trigger to you and how you react to certain triggers
- big recent life changes or events
- medications for your determined diagnosis
- past history of abuse or trauma (if applicable)
I hope this helps give you an idea of what to expect, and at least where to start. I wish you the best on your initial consult with this doctor.