If you’re anything like me, you probably are apprehensive about new experiences, and you have to know what to expect in every situation. In July of 2019, I scheduled my first appointment with a psychiatrist in an attempt to help my panic attacks. The office got me in 4 weeks later. The weeks crept by with racing thoughts such as, “What will my first psychiatry appointment be like?” Questions like, “How long will it last?” “What will they ask me?” And “What if I have a panic attack in the office?” plagued my mind in the days leading up to that day.
After all the questions and theories, the day of my appointment finally came. I don’t think if I have mentioned this before, but I have awful “White Coat Syndrome.” Going to any type of doctor increases my already severe anxiety. I still get nervous, but let me tell you, going to the psychiatrist is not as scary as you may have imagined.
So, this post is for anyone who needs to get a psychiatry appointment but doesn’t know what to expect. I’ve been there, and I hope this post eases your mind.
*This is all from my experience
What To Expect
You’re probably feeling a bit nervous on the day of your appointment and that’s totally understandable! Take some deep breaths and remember the reason you decided to get help.
Before we begin, I have a couple of recommendations.
First, wear something comfortable; you want to feel as comfortable as possible in a new environment.
Secondly, if you don’t want to go to your appointment alone, bring someone you trust like a parent or close friend. My mom obviously took me since I was only 15, but the extra support is always appreciated.
Thirdly, please don’t worry about judgment from others. This is your psychiatrist’s job and they have treated tons of people like you. And all the other patients in the waiting room are there for treatment, just like you. They’re probably concerned about everything you are, so try to put your worries into perspective!
Okay, so what to expect.
The office will probably tell you to arrive about 30 minutes early to fill out your paperwork. There will be a lot of paperwork. You may also receive a depression/anxiety assessment sheet to fill out. After returning all of this back to whomever needs it, you’ll wait for your name to be called. This was the most nerve-wracking point for me.
Once your name is called, a nurse will weigh you and take your blood pressure and pulse. You’ll be asked about current medications and things of that nature. This part won’t take long.
After this, you might go ahead and see the psychiatrist or you may need to wait a few minutes. Try to stay calm and take some deep breaths-this is a good thing you’re doing! Soon you’ll be talking to a doctor whose specialty is exactly what you’re struggling with!
Once you’ve been called into the psychiatrist’s office, it’s a piece of cake. The waiting was the worst part for me. Your first visit is the longest, lasting about an hour to an hour and a half. Appointments after this usually only last around 10-15 minutes in my experience.
Your psychiatrist is going to ask you a lot of questions. First the normal stuff like age, grade or workplace, religion, etc. Mine asked me all about my family history with mental illness; questions such as if anyone in my family has suffered from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, etc., who I lived with and if I had any traumatic events happen, and if anyone I was related to had drugs or alcohol problems.
She then did a bunch of assessments to rule out any other disorders. She asked questions about my childhood and current symptoms to rule out bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism, and more. Remember: don’t be offended at these questions- they have to ask everyone.
She asked many, many questions that I can’t remember. She came to the conclusion that I was suffering from anxiety and depression. She then asked my mom to leave the room to ask me the questions that kids don’t normally answer in front of their parents, like relationship status, sexual orientation, suicidal thoughts, and drug and/alcohol use. Answer these honestly. This information cannot be legally given to anyone, including guardians and law enforcement, (unless you admit to being abused by someone, plan on hurting someone or yourself, or tell them that you’re planning on committing suicide).
After an hour of answering questions, your psychiatrist will come up with a plan. They will probably prescribe medication, advise you on how and when to take it, and how to taper off any current medications. They will also most likely suggest going to therapy because medication and therapy are much more effective together than on their own. You’ll schedule a follow-up appointment, and you’re out of there!
Thanks for reading!
Trust me when I say that going to the psychiatrist is not as scary or overwhelming as you may think. I had the strangest preconceived notions that were proven to be just plain silly. I was lucky to have a psychiatrist who was so nice and comforting it almost felt like I was just talking to a friend. And, after all of this is over, you’ll be so relieved and proud of yourself. You should probably treat yourself afterward…
Facebook group- The Anxious Teens of America