Being Honest with Your Psychiatrist
I have always argued that being honest with your psychiatrist is critical. Simply put, if your doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong, how can he possibly help you? But it’s hard to be honest with a psychiatrist and many people aren’t.
What Aren’t People Honest About?
In my experience, there are two main things patients aren’t honest about with their psychiatrists: self-harm and medication nonadherence (noncompliance). In both of these cases, embarrassment and fear of a negative reaction come into play and I totally get that.
In the case of self-harm, I think people are scared of being labelled with another disorder – borderline personality disorder, generally – based on that one act alone. This is a real fear and it does happen. Nevertheless, if you self-harm, this is important for your doctor to know, not so he can add a label, but, rather, so that he can address the behavior. For example, if I had a client that self-harmed, I would want to get them into therapy as soon as possible so they could learn healthier coping skills.
In the case of medication nonadherence, it’s critical to be honest with your psychiatrist about that because it affects symptoms, there may be withdrawal and it affects the entire treatment plan. Plus, there is always a reason a person is nonadherent to treatment and it's important that you psychiatrist explore that with you so that it won't happen again and you get a treatment with which you are comfortable.
See this video on when I needed to be honest with my psychiatrist about my medication nonadherence.
How to Be Honest with a Psychiatrist
Your relationships with your psychiatrist is just that – a relationship and just like any relationship, it can’t work if you’re not honest. So try to take the time to explain what is going on for you for real. Don’t sugar coat things and don’t hold back. I know that something are uncomfortable to mention – like sexual dysfunction, for example, but so many things can be addressed if only you make it clear that they are problems.
If you’re having trouble bringing up trough subjects and being honest with your psychiatrist, try bringing a loved one to the appointment with you. Then you can have someone on your side who can both support you and hold you accountable for saying what you need to say.
And if the psychiatrist isn’t listening to you even when you’re trying your very best to facilitate positive, honest communication (and this does happen, no doubt) then it’s time to find a new psychiatrist because in any relationship there are two people and if both aren’t willing to be positive and work at it then you just won’t get what you need from your treatment.
Note: I’ve used the pronoun “he” for psychiatrists today. It’s nothing personal, some doctors are not male. Don’t’ worry, I get that.
Image provided by ChuchLeaders.com.
Tracy, N. (2015, July 17). Being Honest with Your Psychiatrist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2015/07/being-honest-with-your-psychiatrist
Author: Natasha Tracy
I feel like you are reading your mind. I am such a people pleaser that I never tell my doctor much. I guess I was manic for two years and so I just went in/out. From 2014 to now I was in a major depressive state...suicidal. I started tracking my showers because they were few and far between and that made me more depressed because I wasn't showering. I also started severing relationships. And seeing spiders. Apparently being on Seroquel for 8 years has lost its effect. so with Bipolar I I am in a bind on finding a new antipsychotic that I can afford on medicare....
Thank you so much for your writings....