Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider about Taking Control of Your Mental Health

Don’t wait for your doctor to inquire about your mental health. Begin the discussion. Here are five recommendations to help you prepare and guide you in talking about your mental health with your health care provider and getting the most out of your appointment.

1. Don’t know where to look for assistance? Consult your primary care physician.

If you’re seeing your primary care physician for another reason, don’t forget to mention your mental health concerns. Mental health is an important aspect of overall health, and people who suffer from mental illnesses are more likely to develop other physical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes. You may now be asked if you’re nervous or depressed or if you’ve had suicidal thoughts in many primary care settings. Take advantage of this chance to speak with your primary care physician, who can assist you in finding a mental health specialist. For assistance in locating a health care practitioner or treatment, go to the NIMH’s Find Help for Mental Illnesses homepage.

2. Plan ahead of time for your visit.

Each appointment with a health care practitioner is limited in time. Prepare a list of your questions and concerns ahead of time.

Prepare your questions ahead of time. Make a list of the topics you want to talk about and any questions or concerns you may have. This worksheet will aid you in the preparation of your questions.

Make a list of all of your prescriptions. All prescriptions, including over-the-counter (nonprescription) drugs, herbal treatments, vitamins, and supplements, should be disclosed to your health care practitioner. This spreadsheet can assist you in keeping track of your prescriptions.

Examine your ancestors. Certain mental diseases run in families, so you may be at a higher risk if you have a close family who suffers from one. Knowing your family’s mental health history can help you determine if you’re at risk for certain mental illnesses. It can also assist your health care provider in recommending ways to lower your risk and allowing you and your provider to watch for early warning signs.

3. Invite a friend or family member.

Bringing a close friend or relative to your appointment can be beneficial. It can be tough to process all of the information provided by your health care practitioner, particularly if you are not feeling well. Your partner can provide support, assist you in taking notes, and help you recall what you and the physician talked about it. They may also be able to give feedback to your provider on how you are performing.

4. Be truthful.

An only straightforward and honest conversation with your health care professional will enable you to become better. It’s crucial to remember that any communications you have with a health care professional are private and confidential, and they can’t be shared with anybody without your permission. Describe all of your symptoms to your doctor, including when they began, how severe they are, and how frequently they occur. It would help if you also discuss any major stressors or recent life changes that may be causing symptoms.

The following are some examples of symptoms:

  • Sad, nervous, or “empty” mood that persists
  • Pessimism or a sense of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Guilt, a sense of worthlessness, or a sense of helplessness
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in hobbies and activities
  • Fatigue or a lack of energy
  • Slower movement or speech
  • Are you feeling antsy or finding it difficult to sit still?
  • Concentration, memory, or decision-making difficulties
  • Sleep disturbances, early morning awakenings, or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight (or both)
  • Suicide attempts or thoughts of death or suicide
  • Aches and pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive issues that have no obvious medical cause and do not improve upon treatment

5. Make inquiries.

If you have any doubts or questions about a diagnosis or treatment that your doctor has prescribed, ask for more information. Express your concerns and ask if there are other options if your provider proposes a medicine you’re not comfortable with or knowledgeable with it. It’s fine if you disagree with your doctor on which treatment to attempt. You might want to try a combination of methods, and you might also wish to seek a second opinion from a different medical professional. It’s critical to realise that there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Before you find the treatment that works best for you, you may need to try a few different health care providers and therapies or a combination of treatments.