Top 7 Questions To Ask Your Psychiatrist In 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Jun 7, 20247 min
Questions To Ask Your Psychiatrist

One morning, beaming with enthusiasm I started work looking at my calendar. Session 1 was scheduled at 10:00 am with Neeraj (name changed). His treatment history suggested a previous consultation with a psychiatrist and he was put on Escitalopram (a drug used for treating mood disorder),10 mg every day. Right after a few seconds, a young gentleman appears on my screen. 

We greet each other and start the session. “How have you been Neeraj?”  I asked. “Not great, I am restless, lack the motivation to do anything, I don’t know where I am heading”, replied Neeraj and shared the prescription from his psychiatrist. “These are the medicines I am having now,” said Neeraj. “What’s your diagnosis? I enquired, as it was not mentioned on the prescription. “Diagnosis? I don’t know, the doctor said I have some anxiety and depression” replied Neeraj. 

Neeraj is not the only one. Many like Neeraj who visit Psychiatrists don’t ask about their diagnosis. Before we proceed, let’s have a look at what you should know before you visit any mental health professional.

You Have The Right To Information!

Did you know your rights as a patient? The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India released ‘the Charter of Patient Care’ in 2018, which also includes the right to Information. 

The charter says “Every patient has a right to adequate relevant information about the nature, cause of illness, provisional / confirmed diagnosis, proposed investigations and management, and possible complications to be explained at their level of understanding in a language known to them. The treating physician has a duty to ensure that this information is provided in simple and intelligible language to the patient to be communicated either personally by the physician, or by means of his / her qualified assistants”. 

According to this Charter, you have every right to ask questions and receive information not only from your psychiatrist but also from any healthcare provider you consult.

Mental health journeys can be overwhelming, but one of the most crucial steps is having a productive conversation with your psychiatrist. Whether you're seeking breakthrough psychiatric solutions or simply looking for guidance on managing your symptoms, asking the right questions can make all the difference. 

We have covered Questions Psychiatrists Ask You on the First Visit

Here’s a guide to help you understand what are questions to ask a psychiatrist on your first visit, to get the most out of your sessions.

1. What questions do you ask your psychiatrist about their credentials?

A. What are your qualifications?

Know that it's absolutely okay to ask your psychiatrist about their qualifications and ensure that you are visiting a doctor who is capable and authorized to treat your condition.

B. What are your specialisations?

Like most doctors, Psychiatrists also specialise in particular areas of mental health. It's important you ask about their specialisation so that you know they have expertise in treating the condition you have.

2. What questions to ask about the session?

A. What can I expect during the session?

Asking this question helps you prepare for the session and reduces much of the initial anxiety or apprehension that you may have. 

B. What is the duration of the session?

A typical psychiatric session may range between 15-30 minutes or more depending upon your psychiatrist.

While the above were general questions to ask your psychiatrist, the below-mentioned questions are very important and form the first steps toward effective treatment. 

3. What questions to ask your psychiatrists regarding diagnosis?

A. Can you explain my diagnosis? 

Understanding your condition is crucial for managing it effectively. Hence do not hesitate to ask if you have any questions in your mind regarding your diagnosis.

B. What are the typical symptoms of my condition? 

Knowing your symptoms can help you manage and track them better.

C. How was my diagnosis determined? 

It’s important to ask this question as understanding this process can help you feel more confident in your treatment plan

4. What Questions to Ask A Psychiatrist about Depression or Anxiety?

A. What type of depression/anxiety do I have? 

It is important you know that there are different types of depression and anxiety disorders and each requires a different approach, hence make sure you ask this

question.

B. What treatment options are available for my depression and/ or Anxiety? 

Asking this question will expose you to a range of treatment options available which might include medication, therapy, or alternative treatments. This equips you to discuss the treatment option with your psychiatrist and choose one or more.

5. What Questions to ask your psychiatrist about medications?

A. What medication do you recommend for my condition? 

Understanding why a particular medication is recommended can help you feel more comfortable with your treatment and medicine adherence.

B. What are the potential side effects of this medication? 

It’s important to be aware of the side effects as it can help you manage them effectively and not confuse some normal unrelated phenomenon as side effects.

C. How long will I need to be on this medication? 

While the duration of medications varies from individual to individual depending upon the severity of symptoms, knowing the duration can help you plan better for the future

D. What is my treatment plan and how long will it take for my treatment to start working? 

This question is important as understanding the treatment plan and timeline can help set realistic expectations. Typically, psychiatric medications take a minimum of two weeks to show their effectiveness. If your psychiatrist is also providing therapy then the timeline may vary and this can be discussed.

E. Is it possible to get addicted to medicine?

Psychiatric medications aren’t thought to be addictive. No one gets cravings from them. The reason why you should not suddenly stop taking them is that you may have sudden discontinuation effects and see the return of some of your symptoms that still need medications to heal. In the long-term popping pills only and taking no therapy or alternate mode of coping mechanism can make some people dependent on medicines for sleep or other issues they may be having.

6. Questions to ask your psychiatrist about therapy

A. What type of therapy do you recommend? 

Therapy is often an essential part of treatment. Different types of therapy work for Knowing different conditions. A recommendation from your psychiatrist may be a good place to start so that you can look for therapists who specialise in the said areas. Sometimes the therapeutic plan may also change depending upon your therapist’s clinical assessment.

B. How often should I attend therapy sessions? 

Knowing the frequency can impact the effectiveness of therapy and help you plan ahead. Usually, therapy sessions take place once a week to begin with. This frequency may change depending on your therapist’s clinical assessment.

C. How will I know if therapy is working? 

Asking this question will help you know the parameters to gauge your progress. Understanding the signs of progress and symptoms can help you stay motivated.

D. Will you be working with my therapist as well?

Often psychiatrists and psychologists work hand in hand for the treatment of mental health conditions. However, there are certain psychiatrists who are also trained in psychotherapy and prefer giving therapy themselves. Asking this question will help you understand if your psychiatrist is going to provide you with therapy themselves or collaborate with your therapist. 

Read 13 Alternative therapies for mental health problems in 2024

7. Questions to ask your psychiatrist about breakthrough psychiatric solutions

If you notice your symptoms are not improving despite the ongoing treatment and efforts to alleviate the symptoms from your end, asking the following questions to your psychiatrist may be helpful:

A. Are there any new treatments available for my condition? 

Innovative treatments can offer new hope. Staying informed about the latest treatments can provide additional options.

B. What are the benefits and risks of these new treatments? 

It’s important to understand the benefits and risks of the new treatments available, as weighing the pros and cons can help you make an informed decision.

C. Can we incorporate these new treatments into my current plan? 

Asking this question is crucial and can help you understand how new treatments fit into your existing plan and assess your financial capabilities.

D. What should I do if my symptoms get worse? 

During the course of treatment, sometimes symptoms can get worse hence asking this question and having a plan in place can be a pre-emptive measure and provide peace of mind.

E. Are there any support groups you recommend? 

Support groups can provide additional help and understanding. It helps you know that there are many around you who have mental health conditions and how common mental health issues are. Moreover, your psychiatrist-recommended support group will be a tried and tested one.

F. How can my family support me? 

Healing becomes a lot easier when the home and family environment is supportive and accommodative. Involving loved ones in your treatment can improve outcomes. Hence understanding how you can involve your family in your treatment is a great way to begin with. 

G. Am I treatment-resistant?

Treatment resistance is a condition when you don’t respond to standard treatments, such as multiple antidepressant medications or therapies. It often requires alternative or more intensive treatment strategies. Treatment resistance is now recognised across a range of psychiatric disorders. Asking this question is important as early identification can lead to more effective treatment strategies and better outcomes.

How Mave Can Address Your Questions 

At Mave Health, we embark on a journey to deepen our understanding of mental health through a comprehensive approach. Beyond simply answering questions, we aim to foster a profound comprehension of Depression and related mental health conditions and offer personalized treatment paths. Our dedication lies in empowering individuals by creating a space where queries lead to meaningful solutions, offering a transformative experience in mental health care. If you're seeking solutions, Mave Health backed by a team of specialized experts, has been enhancing lives for over the past few years. Utilizing evidence-based, holistic, personalized, gold-standard treatment methods, we help individuals manage psychiatric disorders effectively. Reach out to us today: book a consultancy 

You have finally decided to take a step towards ensuring your mental well-being, make sure you begin this journey by asking the right questions. Knowing what questions to ask your psychiatrist can empower you to take control of your mental health. Whether you're exploring questions for psychiatrists about anxiety, depression, or medication, being proactive in your care can lead to better outcomes. Remember, your psychiatrist is there to help you navigate your journey toward mental wellness, so don’t hesitate to ask anything that will help you feel informed and supported. 

References

Charter of Patients' Rights for adoption by NHRC 

Treatment resistance in psychiatry: state of the art and new directions 

Author's Profile picture
Snigdha Samantray
Digital Mental Health Specialist | Clinical Psychologist