Communicating With Psychiatrists: "How Are You Feeling?"

March 8, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

I am certain I have focused on this topic before--in some way or in another. It's an issue that deserves attention. A good relationship with our psychiatrist is an important part of recovery from mental illness.

Common Issues Patients Face With Psychiatrists

Communicating with your psychiatrist is an important skill when living with a mental illness.The word "issues" is a little, well, nice in my opinion. It can be frustrating trying to understand your psychiatrist.

For this reason, let's try to break it down as much as we can:

>When first diagnosed we might wonder if our psychiatrist is correct in their diagnosis.

>In connection, we may feel as if they don't understand us---as people. It can feel as though we are suddenly just an illness. Something that needs to be Fixed.

>Conversations surrounding medication. This one is particularly difficult. We are told we need to take a medication--or quite a few--and they might work. It's sort of hard to like the person who is telling us this, safe behind their desk.

These are just a few examples that I have encountered and please share your own. I am certain we have enough to create some sort of really boring dictionary.

Common Questions Mental Health Patients are Asked. . .

Whew, this topic is saturated but I would bet money or, err, my record collection that we have been asked similar questions.

In no particular order. . .

"So, have you been spending time with your family and friends since the last time we had an appointment?"

Or some equally irritating, inquisitive, variation of this. It's a valid question: If we are reaching out to other people we are probably in a stable place. When unstable it's often really tough to do this.

"How is your appetite and your sleep, any changes?"

Again, an important question. Appetite and sleep indicate our state of stability. If you have a history of substance abuse so does use of any drugs and/or alcohol.

"How Are You Feeling?"

This is, in my jaded opinion, The Mecca of psychiatric questions. The Holy Grail. The Most Irritating Question. You get the drift---my badly used capitalization probably does not help but nevertheless. We all get asked this and it's hard to answer. Our mood changes day to day, hour to day, before and after coffee etc. That's normal!

Final Thought. . .

When you live with a mental illness, you sort of get used to questions like this but, in my experience, it's never easy to try and describe what can feel personal. But it is important! Sometimes, you need to swallow your pride and focus on the end result, the goal: Recovering from mental illness!

Tip: If you find it hard to answer questions, take some time before meetings to write them down. It can make a complicated process a bit easier.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2013, March 8). Communicating With Psychiatrists: "How Are You Feeling?", HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 27 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

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