Preparing For Your Initial Mental Health Appointment


You are feeling tense, fatigued, sad, unmotivated, and your physician gave you clean bill of health. Now, you have an appointment with a psychiatrist, or other mental health professional, to be assessed for a mood disorder.

Most of us get home from medical or psychiatric appointments and remember several things we wanted to share, should have remembered to share, and questions we wanted to ask but forgot.

To avoid forgetting there are a few things you can write down ahead of time and take with you to ensure you convey significant information. It may also help relieve your nervousness—if you are nervous—about the meeting.

This is only a suggestion and if you do not think it helpful, don’t do it.

Jot It Down

The notes can be brief or detailed. Use complete sentences, short phrases, single words, charts, or doodles—whatever works for you.

  1. Write down any prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking: the name and dosage per day.
  2. Write down any supplements or herbs you regularly take: the name and daily dosage.
  3. Think over the past year and jot down any stressful events or changes that occurred and when (anything that caused you more than usual stress, or triggered distress).
  4. Think over the past year and write down any significant changes or transitions that occurred and did not cause you added stress.
  5. To the best of your recollection, record the trajectory of your mood over the last three to six months. For instance, was it constantly up and down, or did it fluctuate every month or six weeks? Did you feel better some months than others?
  6. Now, think over the past month. Jot down any recurring negative or disturbing thoughts about life or about yourself that you recall. Maybe you often thought, “I’m such a failure,” or “Nothing ever works out for me,” or “Everything I say is stupid,” or “What’s the point of living?”
  7. Between now and your appointment day, keep track of your hours of sleep each night and how well you slept, and track your mood during the day. You might write, “Sad and lethargic in the morning, sad but more motivated in the afternoon, felt hopeless late in the evening.”
  8. Write down any questions you want to ask as they come to mind.

If thinking and writing about life events, symptoms, and moods makes you feel more upset, depressed, or anxious, then you are better off not doing it. The mental health professional does not need you to prepare by writing things down. Only do this if it helps you.

Photo credit: Walt Stoneburner


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