“The first wealth is health,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mental health is integral to our overall well-being and one of the best ways to invest in your health is to insure that the group of professionals you interact with are all on the same page—sometimes literally!
Getting everyone on the same page is crucial for successful relationships, workplace success, and especially for the members of your health care team.
Not sure how to start the conversation about mental health with your healthcare provider, or someone you’re seeing for the first time? We have several tips on how to start the conversation about your mental health and what to discuss with your health care provider so that you the most out of your visit.
Maybe you’ve been seeing the same physician or primary care provider for years but have only ever discussed your physical health concerns. Or, maybe you’ll be seeing a new professional for the first time. No matter how established the relationship is, now is the best time to review your history.
First of all, each of us is a holistic entity, with physical and mental health interacting to create a unique melting pot of strengths and needs. One of the major reasons for sharing your psychological concerns is that many times individuals with mental health challenges have an increased risk for other medical conditions that range the gamut from diabetes to heart disease.
Today it is common for a primary care professional to ask about feelings of anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. This is an excellent opening to discussing your own circumstances and letting your doctor know what you’ve faced in the past and are experiencing in the present moment.
While your doctor will no doubt welcome your information, the reality is that the time you’re allotted to spend with him or her is limited. This is where literally getting on the same page comes in handy!
Preparing ahead of time what you want to discuss is crucial in order to get all of your talking points heard. Think of your questions or concerns beforehand, and write them down. You may not be able to hit every point, so prioritize your questions or the information you feel is most important for your doctor to know.
Additionally, make a list of any medications you’re taking. No doubt you’ll be asked this question and being able to hand over a pre-made list of drug names along with their dosages will streamline the process leaving more time for sharing other information.
On your list include not just prescribed medicines, but also anything else you take on a regular basis including vitamins and supplements, over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies.
Writing down your immediate family’s medical history is a great asset for your health care provider. This information can help your provider determine whether you are at a higher risk for certain medical conditions and as such he can recommend strategies to reduce your risks.
Another suggestion we have is for you to give some thought to bringing along a companion to your appointment.
You may not remember all of the information or directions that your doctor provides, and this is especially true if you are not feeling well. I know this has happened to me more than once!
Your relative or friend can take notes while you listen and be there for support. If you think your companion has insight into how you’re currently doing, this person can be a valuable source of information for your provider.
This next tip is especially important: full disclosure is best!
Your doctor can only be a fully functioning part of your health team to the extent that you share the information they need to manage your care. Honest, direct communication is always the best policy in any situation, but that doesn’t mean that we like it or are good at it. It may help to remember that the health information you share with your doctor is confidential.
To this end, paint as complete a picture as you can regarding your diagnosis, care, and symptoms. It’s also wise to add information about major, recent life changes and significant stressors which can affect your overall level of function.
Here is a list of symptoms to write down and discuss during your appointment:
- Appetite or weight changes
- Chronic sad or anxious mood
- Feeling hopeless
- Reduced energy or fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Aches or pains without a clear physical cause
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies
- Changes in sleep patterns
Lastly, be sure to ask questions about anything you do not understand or want more information about. The quality and health of the practitioner-patient relationship is key to successful outcomes—always work with professionals you are comfortable with and trust.
The best conversations are two-way affairs! Always express your feelings, especially any doubts you may have about a treatment suggestion or diagnosis. If your doctor recommends a treatment you’ve not heard of or may not be comfortable with, let your healthcare provider know. She will be able to provide more information that may clarify the situation or suggest alternative options.
Getting all of your care providers on the same page is crucial to ensure optimal care. And, don’t forget, without a doubt you are the most vital member of your health care team!
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Our professional, dedicated staff have the understanding, experience, and compassion necessary to support each resident’s clinical treatment team goals. We offer individualized tier level programs, and guidance with residents’ personal recovery and independent living goals.
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To learn more about our premier women’s recovery residence, call us at (800) 673-0176.