Speaking to your doctor about mental illness

Speaking to your doctor about health issues can be an awkward experience at the best of times, but when it comes to mental illness – a subject many feel uncomfortable talking about – it can be even more difficult, causing many people to avoid or delay seeing their doctor. But if you're dealing with a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, it's essential that you do speak to a doctor so they can treat your medical condition or advise on appropriate services. Here we give you some top tips on how you can speak to your doctor about mental illness.

Bring in notes

It can be all too easy to freeze up and forget everything you wanted to say when you first walk into a doctor's office. Prevent this from happening by preparing a bullet-point list of everything you need to discuss, including your feelings, your symptoms and any questions you have such as what kind of treatments are available.

Medical condition

While some people feel that there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness, remember that what you're suffering from is just that: an illness. You should feel no more embarrassed than you would talking about any other medical condition.

Bring support

Some people prefer to speak to the doctor alone, but others find it helpful to bring a family member or close friend along to support them. If you would feel more comfortable bringing someone with you then do – you're entitled to bring someone along to all your doctor's appointments.

Be honest

Time to Change advises being honest with your doctor about how you're feeling. Unfortunately doctors aren't psychics, so if you don't tell them something, they won't be able to help you get it sorted out. Again, writing out points to discuss and bringing them to your appointment could help you to stay focussed and ensure you say everything you need to say.

Get a second opinion

If you don't feel like you're being taken seriously or if you're not satisfied with your treatment, seek a second opinion from a different doctor. Not every GP is the same, and if you keep trying, you will find someone who can meet your needs.

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