Seeing a Psychiatrist for the First Time
Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time can be scary. But everyone around me knows that I'm very open about my experience receiving mental health treatment, so I talk about it. I work as an advocate for recovery. Many friends and family have asked me for insight when it comes to asking for help. I am always happy to provide encouragement and support, even if you're seeing a psychiatrist for the first time.
What to Expect When Seeing a Psychiatrist
Don't Give Up If Your First Appointment Doesn't Go Well
My husband's best friend recently sought help for depression, and unfortunately, seeing a psychiatrist for the first time was a negative experience. The doctor was cold and dismissive. He even took a phone call in the appointment, during which he scribbled down a prescription for my husband's friend and ushered him out of his office. Needless to say, this was very discouraging for someone first asking for help.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, and just like any other doctor, you are free to shop around and get a second opinion. You should feel comfortable with your psychiatrist, and the first doctor might not be the right fit. Don't give up. Keep trying.
My first appointment with a psychiatrist was shortly after being admitted to an eating disorder clinic, and like I've described in many of my articles, I had surrendered. At that point, there was nowhere to go but up, and I was willing to do everything I was told. For this reason, I probably wasn't as anxious as I normally would have been.
I was first diagnosed with bulimia and bipolar disorder. Then, later with my current psychiatrist, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I am fortunate enough to have been seeing my current doctor for over 10 years. I think seeing the same doctor who really knows me on a regular basis has been a huge benefit to my recovery. I lived in a different town when I started seeing my psychiatrist. Now I live an hour away and continue to see him.
Your First Visit with a Psychiatrist Is an Interview
I know it can be anxiety-inducing when first seeing a psychiatrist, but know that it is simply an interview about your symptoms and lifestyle. Don't worry that any aspect of your life is strange. Psychiatrists hear everything, so chances are you're not going to shock them.
Don't Feel Bad if You Receive a Diagnosis and Start Medication
Don't feel bad if you receive a mental health diagnosis. Giving a name to your symptoms only validates your experience and shows there's a way to treat them.
Starting a psychiatric medication can also be scary, but why suffer if you don't have to? Taking medication is not a sign of weakness, and it might improve your functioning by reducing your symptoms. Don't get discouraged if the first medication doesn't work. Keep trying, and be open to other medications. Taking medication can be a trial-and-error process, but it's worth it when you find the right one.
Finding a Psychiatrist and Paying for Your Appointment
To find a psychiatrist, I suggest doing an online search for doctors in your area and reading their reviews. Of course, if you are in the US, first make sure they accept your insurance. If you can't afford your co-pay or to meet your deductible, search for a local community mental health agency. They may be able to help you financially by working out a payment plan or charging on a sliding scale. The community agency I worked for received funds through the county mental health board to help people pay for their services. They also had a pharmacy that would help people that couldn't afford their medications ("Free Mental Health Services and How to Find Them").
Asking for help and seeing a psychiatrist for the first time will kick-start your mental health recovery. Be open, honest, and know that your doctor is there to help you.
Rahm, M. (2018, November 14). Seeing a Psychiatrist for the First Time, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 25 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2018/11/seeing-a-psychiatrist-for-the-first-time