Questions to Ask Your Psychiatrist

29th Aug 2022 • by Amaha

You’ve finally taken the step to seek mental health help. It isn’t an easy step, and you definitely deserve to be proud of yourself for taking it – we know we are! Going to a new mental health provider can be a nerve-wracking experience. You might feel nervous and sceptical that this person will change your life for the better. Now that you have decided to visit a psychiatrist, it is only natural to have questions regarding your treatment, especially if it is your first time visiting them. After all, you deserve to know what you are getting yourself into. 

It is absolutely okay to ask questions about the person’s professional background, your treatment, and any and all fears you have about the mental health services you’re getting. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you get the best treatment possible! To do so, we have compiled a comprehensive list of questions that’ll enable you to make informed choices when it comes to mental healthcare.

What are your qualifications and specialisations?

Like most doctors, psychiatrists also have specialisations, such as addiction, depression, bipolar or anxiety disorders. A psychiatrist who specialises in a mental health condition you might have might be more attuned to your needs and thinking patterns. They will be better equipped to deal with your condition and have a deeper understanding of the different treatment methods best suited to you. 

What can I expect during a typical session? How long will each session be?

This question can help you prepare mentally for a session. Asking this question ensures you know what to expect and can ease some of your anxiety surrounding visiting a psychiatrist. A typical session would last anywhere between 15 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on your psychiatrist. 

Can you explain my treatment plan?

Remember, charting your treatment plan should be a collaborative process. Your psychiatrist will explain every step to you and alter your treatment plan according to what you are comfortable with. This may include a combination of talk therapy, lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and medication. But don’t worry - all of these elements will be discussed with you in detail before proceeding. You can ask your psychiatrist questions about what to expect from each session and how the treatment plan will progress. 

Can you explain my diagnosis to me? How did you arrive at it?

Even if your psychiatrist does not give you a definitive diagnosis, they probably will have some ideas. These are called working diagnoses or provisional diagnoses, and they often determine what treatment approach your psychiatrist will take. You can ask them what they think is going on and why they are choosing a certain treatment plan. You can also ask them how they arrived at a diagnosis as this will give you insight into your own history - be it family, medical or social.

Can I contact you during a crisis?

We understand that a crisis can strike any time, anywhere. This is why it is important to clarify with your psychiatrist beforehand when you can contact them. Can you contact them on weekends? Is it possible to get an emergency appointment if needed? If they cannot help you, they may redirect you to a crisis helpline or to another mental health specialist who will help you feel better when you’re going through a particularly rough time. Remember, help is available.

When can I expect to feel better?

Your psychiatrist will most probably ask you to be patient as the treatment takes time to take effect. If you are taking medication, this question is critical as it helps gauge whether your medication is effective. Your psychiatrist should be able to give you a timeline on just about when you should start feeling better. They will also make sure to schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress. 

What should I do if I start feeling worse?

There might be times when you feel worse instead of feeling better. To prepare yourself for this possibility, discuss this with your psychiatrist in advance. You can come up with a contingency plan together. If you just started any new medications, your psychiatrist might adjust the dose or change the medication if they feel that you are not benefiting from it. 

Will I be required to take medication? If yes, will they have side effects?

You deserve to have clarity on whether you will be required to take medications. Your psychiatrist will ask you a lot of questions – about your medical history, your family history, any illnesses that run in your family and even your social background. They will collate all of this information and then decide whether your condition warrants medication or not. Most mild conditions can be managed without medication, but each case is unique. If they think that medication would benefit you, they will speak to you about it and list down the risks, benefits, and alternatives to that medication. Then, it is up to you if you want to start it. If they do start you on any medication, you deserve to know if there are any side effects to be expected. Your psychiatrist will help you manage these side effects and adjust your dosage accordingly to ensure you get the maximum benefits.

Will you be working with my therapist as well?

Well-rounded, coordinated care is paramount in the realm of mental health. Ask your therapist if they are willing to work with your psychiatrist and vice versa. Your psychiatrist might also ask you if they can speak to your general care practitioner if needed. Don’t worry, all of this just ensures that you receive the best care possible. 

Bottom Line

All in all, if you are thinking of visiting a psychiatrist, you can do so now confidently with this knowledge! Our therapists at Amaha work closely with our psychiatrists when needed, in order to build an integrated care management plan to deliver the best outcomes for each client. Amaha psychiatrists come with decades of experience and rigorous training in diverse clinical settings for the entire spectrum of mental illnesses. Psychiatry at Amaha goes beyond just medication - we combine the biological, psychological, & social aspects of care to create a comprehensive treatment plan for each client. Book a session now.

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If you think you need help with your mental health in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to an Amaha psychiatrist. You can also download the Amaha app for self-care.
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