When to See a Psychiatrist
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Everyone struggles with their mental health now and then, which is why it’s not always easy to recognize when it’s time to seek help from a professional, such as a psychiatrist. While it’s expected to occasionally feel sad or anxious, it’s important to take note of when those emotions impact your overall quality of life and how a psychiatrist can help.

A psychiatrist can play a vital role in making sure that you get the proper treatment that will move you along your mental health journey. We’ll talk about when it’s time to book a psychiatry appointment, how they can help and what to expect for your first appointment.

How to know when it’s time to see a psychiatrist

When you start to feel like you’re constantly struggling with mental health distress, there are plenty of ways that you might go about it. Perhaps you start with self-care or talking to someone you trust about how you’re thinking and feeling. You may also decide to seek the help of a mental health care provider such as a therapist. But when you see a psychiatrist, it’s because you believe that you may have a diagnosable disorder and you’re unable to manage your distress without proper treatment.

A psychiatrist can diagnose you if you have a mental, emotional or behavioral health disorder and prescribe effective treatment. It may be time to book an appointment with a psychiatrist if you are: 

  • Struggling to control your emotions
  • Frequently experiencing rage or anger
  • Feeling excessively negative or anxious emotions
  • Having strain in your personal relationships due to social withdrawal
  • Having significant changes in your sleeping or eating patterns
  • Using substances or engaging in risky behavior
  • Struggling to carry out your job responsibilities
  • Experiencing a difficult life change or event (loss of a loved one, physical health issues)

It’s also possible that you will be referred to a psychiatrist if you’ve discussed your distress with another health care provider, such as your general practitioner or psychotherapist. 

If you haven’t discussed your mental health with a provider, you may be referred to a psychiatrist following a mental health crisis. Call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 if you’re having suicidal thoughts and you’re at risk to yourself or others.

How a psychiatrist can help you

Now that we’ve discussed when to see a psychiatrist, it’s time to talk about what they can do to help you. The role of a psychiatrist in your mental health journey is to supply a variety of interventions and support for your individual needs and circumstances. While it can vary from patient to patient, your time with a psychiatrist will often include:

  • Assessment — Your psychiatrist will carry out a psychological screening of your mental health, usually completed with a series of questions. It’s possible that they may require lab tests as well.
  • Diagnosis — Based on the information from your assessment, your psychiatrist can diagnose you with a disorder if it aligns with the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). They’ll also consider your medical history, cultural factors and their clinical judgment. An accurate diagnosis often requires a psychiatrist to carry out patient interviews and observation.
  • Treatment — If you’ve been diagnosed with a disorder, you’ll collaborate with your psychiatrist. Together, you’ll determine the safest and most effective options for a personalized treatment plan that align with your goals, values and preferences. A plan can include options such as medication or psychotherapy. Treatment often includes a combination of several therapeutic options.

There are more than a dozen types of emotional, behavioral and mental disorders that can be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist, but some of the most common are:

What to expect from your first psychiatrist appointment

Once you’ve made the decision to see a psychiatrist, it can be a bit nerve wracking and overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. But by learning what your first appointment will look like, you can properly prepare and focus on getting the most out of this step in your mental health journey.

While it may vary from case to case, your first psychiatrist appointment will likely involve:

  • Discussing current symptoms, including changes from those of a previous diagnosis
  • Sharing your medical history as well as your family’s
  • Discussing your overall health
  • Talking about how your mental health has affected and been perceived by, loved ones

Be sure to prepare a list of questions to ask and issues you want to discuss. You should also be sure that you let them know of all medications and substances you take regularly.

Lightfully Behavioral Health has psychiatrists you can talk to 

For many people, talking to a psychiatrist can give them the answers they need about their mental health that will help them gain a better understanding of their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. 

At Lightfully, psychiatrist sessions are included in three of our levels of care: Residential Treatment Center, Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program. The IOP has psychiatry sessions as needed. The framework of everything we do consists of evidence-based, clearly defined, data-driven and whole-person-centered care.

Change is possible. When you’re ready to take the first step, reach out to our Admissions Concierge Team. We’ll take the next steps together, toward the fullest, brightest version of you.

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