Talking to Your Primary Care Provider about Your Mental Health

Many people seek mental health care from their primary care provider. Learn more about how to make this experience work out to your advantage and what questions to ask yourself.

Many people seek help with mental health concerns from their primary care providers. But this might feel uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t used to discussing mental health care with your doctors.

There are certain things to know about the experience in advance to ensure that the conversation goes well. Even though there’s still a bit of stigma surrounding mental health, more people are gaining confidence and discussing it openly. The providers at Nurocoach explain how to prepare for the experience.

Know that it might be an initial discussion

A primary care provider can is a good first step in discussing mental health concerns, but some conditions may be beyond their knowledge. Initial discussions of depression or anxiety, in particular, can be started at the primary care level and then request a referral to a phyciatrist who can manage your medicine and provide other therapeutic support.

In addition, cases of treatment-resistant depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder should be managed by a psychiatrist. It’s not a sign of having a more serious condition that needs to be managed by a different provider. Instead, it’s an indication that you need the best person most qualified to treat your disorder.

Why does speaking to your primary care doctor make sense?

Your primary care doctor knows about all the other health conditions that may affect you. For example, if you’ve had cancer, you may be more likely to experience depression. And not all treatments are the most appropriate, given your health history.

Your doctor will know the factors they must consider in prescribing medication to you — a benefit of working with a medical practitioner who knows about your health and other aspects of your life.

Prepare for your visit

If you feel nervous about your visit, it helps to do some preparation in advance. You may want to think about the questions you want to ask. Some things to consider include the following:

1) Think about what symptoms have bothered you.

If you noticed that your symptoms became more bothersome after a specific event, be sure to include that detail. It may have more relevance than you suspect.

2) Prepare any questions you have.

Your visit to the doctor is the perfect time to get all your questions answered, so come prepared with your questions.Some primary care physicians may not ask you questions proactively, so here are some questions to ask yourself that might indicate that you need help:

How am I sleeping? (not enough or too much)

How am I eating? (undereating or overeating)

Do I feel hopeless?

Do I feel like hurting myself or others?

3) Review your family history.

It may be significant to tell your doctor about your family history, especially if it seems relevant. For example, if your mother or father developed schizophrenia at a certain age or they developed depression, that would be a fact the doctor should know.

You can even take a friend or family member to your appointment if it makes you feel more comfortable.

Know your strengths

It takes a lot of strength to ask for help. This fact alone should make you feel more comfortable. Think about your strengths to help boost your spirits before asking for help. Maybe you’re a generous person or good at cheering up other people. These are all parts of who you are, too. Needing some help doesn’t cancel out your good traits.

Managing your health requires a team

Your health care requires a team, not just one person, including your primary care provider, gynecologist, and maybe a mental health provider. Our health care system works best when we assign tasks to the individual providers most qualified to accept them.

If you need to talk about your mental health, plan to Contact the providers at Nurocoach or request an appointment today with this link.