Your first appointment with a Psychiatrist, are you prepared?

Reflecting on my first appointment, I was clearly unprepared and this article would have come in handy.  Bringing someone would have helped immensely, and when the pdoc asked if there were any questions, it would have prevented me from sitting there looking stunned. 

This article was written by: Natasha Tracy on

Recently, someone wrote me and asked how to best handle a first psychiatric appointment. This is a good question because, essentially, people are walking into the vast unknown. If you’ve never seen a psychiatrist before, how could you possibly know what to expect? And, the kicker of that is, the doctor will be asking you why you’re there. So you’re supposed to know what to say when he says that. So how do you handle your first psychiatric appointment?

Write Down What Concerns You Before Your Psychiatric Appointment

Many people get in front of a psychiatrist a freeze, completely forgetting all the issues that brought them there in the first place. This is extremely common. So, before you head off for your first psychiatric appointment write down all your concerns. Everything that has been odd and everything that you think might be odd should go down on the list, with examples.

For example, “I find I obsessively count things. I can’t leave a room without counting all of the ceiling tiles.”

It doesn’t matter what your concerns are, believe me, the psychiatrist has heard them all before.

Bring a Loved One to Your First Psychiatric Appointment

It can be really difficult to sit in front of a stranger and pour out your heart and admit to things you’d likely prefer to forget. But you have to, so bring a loved one to your first psychiatric appointment to make it easier. This person will be on your side and be able to fill in any blanks you might forget. Plus, this person can offer a perspective on what symptoms he or she has personally seen and that can be very helpful for a doctor. (Your loved one can also write down concerns before the appointment too. They may freeze under the stress of being there as well.)

Be Open and Honest In All Psychiatric Appointments

Honestly, it’s natural to want to hide stuff, even from a psychiatrist, but he can’t help you if you don’t give him the full picture so it’s critical, to be honest with your psychiatrist. If you’re experiencing sexual dysfunction – say so. If you’re raging in out of character ways – say so. If you just bought five, $5,000 handbags that you can’t afford – say so. All of this is important stuff even if you’d prefer it not be.

Also, try to answer the psychiatrist’s questions with as much honesty as possible. Don’t try to shape your answers into a diagnosis, just be honest. Really, you’ll be a more accurate diagnosis that way. You don’t’ know what is important so don’t try to do your psychiatrist’s job for him.

Write Down Everything the Doctor Says in Your First Psychiatric Appointment

Chances are there will be a lot of information flying your way in your first psychiatric appointment so write it down for reference later. This can be the job of your loved one.

Remainder of this article @ Healthy


Published by


I am a Mental Health Advocate for mental illness Stigma. In 2007, I created the "Living in Stigma" blog, with the purpose and anticipation of educating people about mental illness. Depression is part of this illness, which intertwines with those struggling with PTSD, chronic pain, and other invisible illnesses. I am a chronic migraine sufferer myself, and a sexual and emotional abuse survivor. My passions are writing, poetry, and art. All abuse Survivors are also Warriors.

20 thoughts on “Your first appointment with a Psychiatrist, are you prepared?”

  1. I was terrified before my first appointment with my psychologist. I had put it off for a really long time, choosing to focus on the physical aspect of my chronic pain and point blank ignoring the emotional effect it was having. I came to a breaking point and took the plunge and it was hands down the best decision I could’ve made for my mental wellbeing. In a way I answered my own questions and fears, for the first time in years speaking out loud to someone who was unaffected by my words. The guilt I was feeling, the fear, the pain, I got it all out in a mix of tears, laughter and relief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So happy it was successful. Sometimes the fear leading up to the appointment is so much worse than the actual meeting. Looking back years later, you can almost laugh at yourself for being so foolish. Thanks for commenting and have a great day. 🙂


  2. The problem with going to a psychiatrist, Is their job is to find something and some way to label you and medicate you. That’s what they’re trained to do that’s what the DSM 5 is therefore we all can meet some criteria for some sort of crazy. That’s what entire career and blog is about. Don’t Label My Kid!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Another essential piece of advice I’d give: if you don’t ‘click’ with them, or like them, leave. Try another. And another, till you feel right. It’s a relationship after all. Great advice all round


    1. Good advice, however, some people get stuck with a psychiatrist unfortunately due to finances. Sometimes it’s through a hospital or program which is covered by the government or employer and is no cost to the client so he/she has no choice. If the pdoc is in private practice and you can afford their hefty prices, then, by all means, shop around for the one you feel comfortable wth.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi very good blog.
    I can hardly remember my first psychiatrist visit but I was so 😱 scared.
    They can be so powerful when you are very sick.
    I thought she was like a God.
    Now I can chat to my psychiatrist like just any normal person.
    She has feelings like everyone else.
    Thanks and take care.
    Love Mo Doyle


      1. Thanks Deb.
        Loved reading your blogs.
        Keep blogging and I’ll read them from time to time.
        Take care
        Love Mo
        If ever in Ireland, look me up


  5. I hardly remember my very very first psychiatrist appointment at least 14/15 years ago, but you are right that it would surely have been helpful to have my husband along. If I had, I wish he would have mentioned things to the doctor that he mentioned to my mother early in our marriage. That would have more quickly led to my bipolar diagnosis as opposed to just the assumption of anxiety and depression.

    Another very important topic that I hope you or someone else could bring up someday is how to approach changing psychiatrists after you receive what you feel is a firm diagnosis. In these cases I was ultra-prepared and it really helped. So many psychologists and psychiatrists like to diagnose you fresh as if the first time, and it can be annoying if you’ve had numerous hospitalizations and spend so much time in therapy and with doctors. I can speak for myself in saying that I didn’t want to start fresh. I just wanted to move on from the point I was at. Even then having a spouse or other significant family member with you the first time is helpful.


    1. Yes, good point also. Having someone with you is a huge asset. I know for me I experienced ‘brain fog’ many times throughout the horrible depression years and couldn’t think for myself let alone listen to instructions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. First time I saw a psychiatrist was in my early 20’s. It is so scary and intimidating, but I’m pleased I was unprepared, I would have scared myself and not been able to talk at all! I was honest, but looking back my perception of how I behaved was wrong, so ultimately gave slightly wrong info! Wish I had taken notes, or had someone who could have come with me! I think I will take notes from now on! Even though I’ve seen them so many times! Good post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As with any doctor, how are you really supposed to know what to ask? If it’s an illness or problem you have, that’s why you’re there to get information, other than with the internet! I was completely unprepared, however, I do have a valid excuse, in the early ’90’s there was no internet and my psych shoved a 3″ book at me in medical jargon on depression. It didn’t help! Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. internet was around when I got diagnosed, but many people still didn’t have it! I didn’t, I thought it was just for emails and stuff, I had no idea you could actually find information on it! I just got handed a load of information sheets and booklets, I didn’t find them particularly helpful, it was all so general, didn’t explain that everyone’s experience was different!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for sharing such great tips and advice. I have always said the same thing about bringing a loved one. I had a two-hour intake meeting in order to check myself into a three-week partial hospitalization program. I was so thankful that my wife was able to join me at that appointment. She corrected a great deal of the information I was trying to share, such as when I started on which medicines, when my suicidal thoughts had started, and much more. I was in the midst of a major depression. Some of the known symptoms of depression impact one’s cognition and memory. Even if I wanted to be as honest as possible, I wouldn’t have gotten all of the information correct. I would imagine others with different mental illnesses may not want to (or be able to) answer questions correctly. The scary part…after this two-hour meeting, new patients are given a diagnosis and a plan of medication. Bringing a loved one, family member, or a close friend to the intake meeting, if at all possible, was one recommendation I gave to the staff upon exiting the program. Thanks again for sharing such important advice!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. I wish I had this advice years ago, however, we didn’t have the internet then or was I wise to a psychiatrist. I was totally unprepared, went by myself, and felt completely intimidated. Hopes this article helps others. 🙂


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