Preparing For Your Psych Appointment
Most people don’t bother preparing for their appointments because either they don’t see the point in it, they think it’s a waste of time, or they think they already know everything they want to mention. But how many times have you left an appointment and thought, “Oh man, I completely forgot to mention that!” or “Oh, yeah I need a refill on that!” I know I have done it plenty of times before I actually started jotting down notes on things I want or need to mention. My mom had been trying to get me do this for years and then one day after forgetting to mention a really important side effect it finally clicked. So thank you for that mom!
Now that almost everyone has smartphones glued to their faces, all you have to do is create a list of things you should mention or bring up during your next appointment right in your phone’s memo or notepad. Lists and memos are not just for our parents and grandparents anymore. If you want to take change or your own health then this is something that you should really start getting in the habit of doing.
Just because I am labeling this is “Preparing For A Psych Appointment” does not mean that you cannot apply this to any other appointment you may have as well.
Creating a list of notes for your upcoming appointment is probably the best thing you could do to avoid leaving anything out. There’s no harm in being too thorough.
Here’s an example of what my list would look like:
- Medication Issues
- Side Effects
- Decreased Effectiveness
- Noticing No Changes (especially with new meds)
- Have I started/stopped any meds?
- What Over-the-counter meds am I taking?
- Has a different provider (Family Doctor, Neurologist, Etc..) started me on a new med?
- Mood Changes
- New/Worsening Symptoms
- If I am having “episodes” and for how long?
- Such as an actual Manic or Depressive episode.
- Self-Injurious Behaviors +/-
- How many hours am I sleeping on average?
- Any notable appetite changes?
- Any psychosis/hallucinations?
- Any dissociative episodes?
- Any Insurance/Income Changes?
- Any Major Life Events?
- Major Life Events should be noted because these could affect mood and overall well-being. (This includes, but is not limited too; Divorce, Marriage, Job Change/Loss, Move, Death in the family, Pregnancy, etc…)
- Noticeable weight change?
- Are there any bothersome physical issues?
- Dizziness, Headaches, etc…
This may seem like an extensive list, but too much information for a doctor to have is never a bad thing. It is always best to cover your bases when it comes to your health, especially your mental health. Not only does your mental health affect your mind, but it can affect your body as well.
Now, my list won’t necessarily look like your list. Everyone is different and has their own unique bases to cover. I just happen to have a lot of issues to generally discuss during my appointments. After dealing with my mental health for over 15 years, I try to get the most out of every appointment because my main goal is recovery and getting better. I try to utilize my time and make sure I keep my doctors informed so they can also keep track if they think I am making progress or regressing.
I hope someone can get some use out this. It’s definitely worth it. I wish I would have started making checklists for my appointments sooner. It would have saved me so much time, and so many unnecessary phone calls.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.