What to Expect at a Psychiatry Appointment

Holiner Group

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Psychiatry is a vital part of mental health treatment. In the United States, one in six people takes psychiatric medications. These medicines help people to live balanced, healthier lives.

Even with the prevalence of treatment options and prominence of medications, a stigma exists. These factors can make seeking treatment a daunting task.  

Psychiatry today

There are approximately 28,000 psychiatrists in the United States. These doctors play an important role in health care, especially in the wake of the opioid crisis. Recruitment for psychiatrists is second only to family physicians.

In a previous post, we discussed the differences between psychiatry and psychology. Now, we’ll take a closer look at what it’s like to visit a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. These physicians can also practice psychotherapy. But the primary job of a psychiatrist is medication management. Larger practices may consist of a team of people.

These teams include various medical professionals capable of making diagnoses and prescribing medications. These include psychiatric nurse practitioners (NP) and physicians assistants (PA).

There may also be psychologists, licensed professional counselors and social workers. These team members may also be doctors, but they hold Ph.D.s and cannot prescribe medication.

Psychiatry appointment

Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time can be intimidating, but there is no need to worry. The following list tells you what to expect at a psychiatric appointment.

  1. The first visit is the longest.

    Your intake appointment can take one to two hours. You’ll fill out paperwork and assessments to help determine a diagnosis. After that, you’ll have a conversation with the psychiatrist and an NP or PA may observe. The doctor will get to know you and come to understand why you are seeking treatment. There will be a lot of questions for you to answer.

  2. Phone a friend.

    Many doctors understand that on your first visit you may want to have a loved one or close friend with you. If you elect to bring someone with you, they should know you well and be able to share about you. You don’t have to bring anyone, but this confidant may be able to remember critical details you may forget.

  3. Write it down.

    Before your psychiatry appointment, write down why you are seeking help. Highlight critical behaviors which cause you concern. This exercise will help you stay on track and lessen the likelihood of you forgetting something. While you’re in your appointment, it’s also a good idea to write down what the doctor says so you can implement it when you leave the office.

  4. A simple physical.

    Many psychiatrists will take your vitals on your first visit to establish a baseline. They will take your blood pressure and temperature and many will also weigh you. There is also the possibility of a blood draw. In some cases, your doctor may send you for further testing or scans.

  5. Get to know your psychiatrist.

    You will be working with the doctor, NP or PA for a while on your health. It is a good idea to prepare questions so you can understand more about their method of treatment. You are expected to ask questions during your sessions.

  6. Treatment plan.

    By the end of your first or second session, the doctor will have a treatment plan for you to begin. He or she will provide you with prescriptions and advise you on how you will move forward. It is imperative to discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor. This step ensures sure your prescriptions don’t negatively interact.

  7. Shorter sessions.

    After the initial intake, future psychiatry appointments will be shorter; on average between 15 and 20 minutes. You’ll discuss how the medicines are working and give a concise overview of how you’re doing. The doctor, NP or PA will decide whether to adjust your medications or not.

Psychiatry is worth it

Dealing with a mental health diagnosis is as important as physical health. It may be new territory, but it is worth it to get you on a healthy path. It is often suggested to see a psychologist along with your psychiatrist. In the best case scenario, these doctors will work together on your treatment.

To facilitate this, both doctors will offer you a release form. These forms give them your permission to communicate freely to create the best treatment plan for your health. A psychologist spends more time with you and knows more details about your current state. They can share this information with your psychiatrist.
Both doctors will help you achieve your mental health goals. If you’re looking to start your psychiatry journey, the Holiner Group team is here to help. We have locations in Dallas and McKinney. We have a talented staff and want to assist you. Contact us, today.

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