First psychiatrist appointment: What to expect?

Your first appointment with a psychiatrist is the most crucial step in your mental health journey. You must remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It is important to know that psychiatry is different from therapy. Your psychiatric appointment is centered on prescribing and monitoring the use of medication, rather than building behavioral and cognitive skills towards coping.

Initial Contact via phone call or online booking: You’ll start by contacting the clinic via phone or an online booking system.  There are ways to book like going to the clinic or booking via the social media page of the clinic or hospital. You’ll provide basic information, such as your name, contact details, and the reason for your visit. You will get an appointment time and date which suits you.

Preparation before visiting a psychiatrist: Have your details handy. You may jot down the problems and make a list of your concerns. You will be asked for information about your medical and mental health history. This includes current medications, past treatments, and any diagnoses. You will also be asked about the family history of mental disorders up to three generations. Do not forget to carry all your medical records and investigation reports with you.

First impression: You’ll check in at the reception desk when you arrive. You will need to provide your personal information, and health history, and pay for the appointment. After that, a nurse will take your vitals like blood pressure, pulse rate, weight, and height. If you have hesitation you may raise your concerns.

Waiting before the meeting: You might have to wait in a designated area until your appointment begins. This may be completely different than what you expect. Most people think the waiting area in a psychiatry clinic is chaos with people shouting and being aggressive. But this is a quiet space with magazines and television depending on the place you choose to visit. People might want to talk to you and there can be a long queue depending on the number of appointments. You might be offered water. If you’re feeling anxious, try some deep breathing or mindfulness techniques to calm your nerves.

The first meeting with your Psychiatrist: Your psychiatrist will introduce themselves. They are there to help you understand and manage your mental health. If you are with your friends or family members, they might ask whether you want to share your problems alone or want your accompanying person to be there while you share.  It’s important to understand that what you share is confidential with some exceptions (like if there’s a risk of harm to yourself or others).

The Initial Assessment: You will discuss why you’re seeking help. Be honest and open; this helps your psychiatrist understand your needs. Your psychiatrist will ask structured questions about your mental health history, including symptoms you’ve been experiencing, how long they’ve been present, and their impact on your daily life. They will likely ask about your personal history, family history, relationships, education, and employment.

One important thing to understand here is psychiatrist is interested in the history of your illness rather than the story. Be specific and do not get offended if the psychiatrist interrupts you for some questions or asks you to move a little faster.

Treatment goals and expectations Your psychiatrist will discuss your treatment goals and what you hope to achieve. They will explain possible treatment options, which may include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Most of the time they will prescribe you medications. Many people feel nervous and distrustful of taking medication that has the potential to alter your brain’s chemistry. These are very rational hesitations, but there is evidence that medication is a successful treatment. Remember that medication will not take away any of the good things about you.

After the appointment: Your psychiatrist will outline the next steps, including investigations, brain imaging, follow-up appointments, recommended treatments, or referrals to other professionals. The pharmacist will make sure how you need to take the prescribed medication.

Common Questions and Concerns

Is it normal to feel nervous?

Absolutely! It’s common to feel nervous about your first psychiatric appointment. Remember, your psychiatrist is there to help and support you, not to judge you. All in all, it’s normal to be nervous, but your psychiatric appointment will ultimately work for you, not against you!

How long will the appointment last?

The first appointment usually lasts between 15- 20 minutes in the context of Nepal. Considering the number of patients the psychiatrists need to cater the time might be different. In a satellite clinic, the psychiatrist might not be able to give you much time.

What should I do if I’m not comfortable with the psychiatrist?

It’s important to feel comfortable with your psychiatrist. If you feel that you’re not a good fit, it’s okay to discuss this with them or ask for a referral to another professional.

Tips for a Successful First Appointment

  • Be honest: Share your thoughts and feelings openly.
  • Be prepared: Bring the necessary documents, reports of investigations, and a list of your medications if any.
  • Ask questions: Don’t hesitate to ask about anything you don’t understand.
  • Do not be offended: Don’t be offended if you are asked to cut your story short or if questions are asked in between.
  • Take notes: Write down important information or instructions you receive.
  • Follow up: Adhere to the treatment plan and attend follow-up appointments.

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *