A couple days ago, I did something I’ve been playing with the idea of for a long time now: I saw a psychiatrist. And I’m so glad I did.
After a long talk and evaluation, he diagnosed me with ADHD and social anxiety.
I finally have an explanation for my problems, and that feels awesome! But beforehand, I was pretty scared. I already get nervous seeing any doctor, and this was whole new territory.
So I’m gonna share what it was like, what I found helpful, and tips for making the visit great. If you’re thinking about seeing a psychiatrist too, hopefully my insight can help a little.
Making the First Appointment
First off, I’d recommend doing some research. If someone you trust has seen a psychiatrist, you might ask them about their experience and if they recommend anyone. But if you’re like me and are going into this pretty blind, use the internet:
1. Google “Psychiatrist [Your City]”
To look for reviews on a specific person, Google “[psychiatrist name] reviews.”
Reviews can say a lot. My doctor had really stellar reviews on several sites, so I felt confident pursuing an appointment with him.
2. Look at Their Website
This one is less important, as a doctor can be fantastic without a website, but I really wanted someone who made it easy to know what to expect.
My doctor had a website explaining his approach, what to expect in the first appointment, and how to schedule an appointment. I’m also pretty sure he wrote all the text himself, which made it feel so much more personal.
3. Find Out Fees and Availability
If you like what you see online, call their office number and ask about making an appointment for your needs. They should let you know fees and if they take insurance or not. Mine did not take insurance, so the evaluation and follow up fees were straight-forward.
I believe my appointment was about 1.5 months following the day I called, and I went into expecting longer than that. So be prepared for some wait time.What to Know Before Seeing a Psychiatrist Click To Tweet
Preparing for the First Appointment
Here are a few tips based on my experience and also what I wish I’d done in the first appointment.
Write Down Your Symptoms and Questions
Before you go in, spend some time thinking about what’s bothering you the most. What symptoms are you having? When did they start? How do they change day-to-day, month-to-month, etc?
Also, think about what you’re expecting from the appointment or evaluation. Is there a certain medication you’d like to know more about? Maybe you’re interested in therapy or holistic approaches.
I’d recommend writing these things down, as it’s easy to forget details if you’re nervous and there’s a lot to cover. I wish I had done this and brought a pen and pad of paper to my first appointment.
Be Completely Honest
Your doctor can’t help us in the best way unless they have all the information. Don’t be afraid to be honest with them about your struggles. Their purpose is to help you get and feel better, not to judge.
I was embarrassed and frustrated that I couldn’t sit still and get my work done, but being honest about it with my doctor helped him make the diagnosis that has helped me a ton since.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Clarification or More Information
You’ll probably get a lot of new information during the first evaluation. If you need something repeated or more information to understand, let them know! These appointments usually aren’t cheap; get the most value from them by asking questions when you need to.
Also, take a deep breath. 🙂 I was extremely nervous before my first appointment, but I didn’t need to be. My doctor was so kind and listened attentively. Based on the nature of their work, they’ve probably heard it all and nothing will seem “weird” to them.
Be Open to Trying New Things
Through talking with my doctor, I learned that my coping mechanisms are great, that I’m doing everything I can to help myself holistically: I use tools to organize my work patterns, I take care of my mind and body with nutrition and exercise and mindfulness, I’m in a wonderful relationship, and I have a profession that fits me.
I decided to try out medication, something I’ve been afraid of for most of my life. But I’m glad I stayed open to it. We talked through my fears and it’s been a good journey (that I’m still on) to finding what works best for me.
My advice to anyone who is thinking about seeing a professional is “DO IT.” I put this off for SO many years because I didn’t feel like it was worth it. I am stubborn and felt that I could do it on my own; I also didn’t think my problems were “bad” enough to warrant getting help.
And if we’re being honest, I thought there was simply something wrong with my character.
But I was wrong about that. 🙂 And if you can relate to how I felt too, know that sometimes you can do everything “right” but still need help, and that’s 100% okay.
By learning more, we can help ourselves improve and work with what we have. And I think that is beautiful.
If you’ve seen a psychiatrist or other mental health professional, what was your experience?