A psychiatrist; it finally happened. Your primary care doctor has done all they can to help you with your mental health and has suggested that you look for a psychiatrist. You may feel a little lost when you are told to find someone new, especially if your knowledge of psychiatrists is limited to what you have seen on TV. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make sure you find a doctor who meets your needs and makes you feel confident in managing your mental health.
Ask for referrals.
When your primary care doctor decides that you would benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, they will most likely give you a few names to contact first. Be prepared for some doctors to be unavailable. Many doctors are over-booked and have long waitlists. Others specialize in certain areas that might not benefit you. Do not let this discourage you; if none of the initial names work out, ask your primary care doctor to look into other options. If you have friends or family who have shared their mental health journies, you can politely ask them for referrals.
Read reviews carefully.
Most people publicly review doctors because they have either had a very good experience or a very bad experience. People who do not have a particularly exceptional visit are not as likely to write a review online. Before you cross a name off your list because of poor reviews, read them carefully to see exactly what the clients complained about. Things like spending a long time in the waiting room or having insurance issues are not as important as reviews about the doctor’s bedside manner and the actions of the nurses and support staff.
Watch how staff members treat their clients.
Once you have made an appointment, the next step in vetting a doctor is to see how you are treated when you get to the main office. The psychiatrist is an important part of the equation, but clients will deal with the staff more often than they will the doctor. Once you have checked in, take a seat where you can see other clients interacting with the staff. Look for patience, confidence, and a positive attitude in the caregivers.
Pay attention to the doctor’s demeanor.
When you start to speak with your potential psychiatrist, you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Some of the questions and topics will be uncomfortable. The doctor should still make you feel important and valued, even if you become upset. There may be a time limit on your appointment depending on who you are working with, but the psychiatrist’s focus needs to be on you during that time. When you leave their office, you might feel emotionally drained, but you should never feel belittled, intimidated, or scared.
Give yourself time to decompress before making a decision.
After leaving a psychiatrist’s office, especially for the first time, people experience a wide range of emotions. Whatever your feelings are, they are valid and worth spending time considering. Before you decide whether or not to go back to that particular psychiatrist, take some time to rest and decompress. You might find that after a cup of tea and a short nap, you can come to a clearer conclusion regarding your future with the psychiatrist you spoke with.
Finding a psychiatrist that you feel comfortable working with is key to taking care of your mental health. The process can be overwhelming at times, so thinking analytically is important. Using these tools will help you streamline the process and know what to look for as you decide who is the best fit for your needs. Whomever you choose, always keep in mind that you are the one in control of your mental health journey. The psychiatrist and your primary care doctor are essential elements of your treatment plan, but you have the final say about the care you receive.