I see my psychiatrist every few months, and when I see him, it seems as if our appointments are short. I often leave his office frustrated because I forgot to ask or tell him about something that has been on my mind since our last appointment. To make the most of my time with him, I came up with these five tips.
- Keep and share a daily journal. If I keep a daily journal of my symptoms, then I can easily talk about trouble spots with my doctor. It is possible that he will see a pattern or solution that I have missed. Having this information readily available means I don’t have to rely on my memory to discuss symptoms that are problematic. Part of my daily journal is also physical. I have problems with fatigue, and there are times when I can’t sleep. Some physical symptoms may be side effects of medication or may be a sign that the medication isn’t working for me. These are all details that can help your doctor understand you better and help decide the best treatment for you.
- Bring an advocate. If you have an advocate, (mine is my husband), think about bringing them to your appointment. I don’t know why seeing a doctor creates so much anxiety for me, but it does. Having someone in my appointment with me can help me stay on track with important information and can also help me to remember the recommendations the doctor made during the session.
- Schedule your blood work in advance. Most people on anti-psychotic medication need regular blood work. If you try to schedule your blood work a few days before seeing your doctor you can go over the results in your session and s/he can make any changes necessary to your medications, or make recommendations on diet and exercise.
- Check your medications. I have my doctor refill my prescriptions every time I visit so that I won’t have to try and get in contact with him at a later time to call in my order to the pharmacy.
- Update any emergency contact information. If you have changed therapists, primary care physicians, or a family contact, make sure your psychiatrist has their contact information on file. Also, make sure all “release of information” forms are up to date so your doctor can share information with those you want in case of an emergency.
The more prepared I am, the more helpful my appointments are. I look at my overall treatment as teamwork. The more I support the team, the better the outcome.
Office door photo available from Shutterstock