The first visit to a Psychiatrist is often an initial evaluation, referred to as an intake. It is an opportunity for you and your Psychiatrist to explore the nature of your complaints and how they are effecting your quality of life. The range and severity of symptoms will be discussed as well as any precipitating factors that may be contributory. It is essential to review a thorough medical history, including co-existing or underlying mental, physical, or addiction history that may influence your presentation. This typically includes a review of all medications, prior health treatments, and outcomes. Because many health conditions can run in families, a family history can provide clues to predisposing risk factors, and the dynamics that can influence one’s life experience. Lastly, a social history can provide insight into behaviors and their impact on life. This includes understanding socialization habits, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual beliefs and behaviors, and academic and professional life. Once a working diagnosis has been established, interventions will be reviewed and recommendations offered. Some helpful suggestions to prepare for the first visit are as follows:
1. Make a list of your questions or concerns–what you want to explore and get clarification on.
2. Bring any relevant information regarding your health history, including names of current treatment providers, and any medication names and dosages.
3. Relax. A Psychiatrist is a trained professional who understands patients can become nervous in these situations. The assessment is not an inquisition, it is an investigation sought to work toward your betterment.