Tips for Talking To Doctors About Your Mental Health
Half of all adults will struggle with a mental health problem in their lifetime, and poor mental and emotional health can significantly impact physical health –the heart, neurological system, digestion, endocrine system, immunity, just to name a few. It truly is all connected, and vicious health cycles begin when mental health begins to decline. For this reason, prioritizing your brain health is as important as prioritizing your body health. Talking to doctors about your mental health is an important step in the process.
It’s Normal to Be Nervous
Many people are hesitant to speak with their family doctor about mental health. They may think that this isn’t what medical doctors do or that they won’t understand. Some telling statistics make this point.
- 46% of people say they won’t bring up a problem if their provider doesn’t ask.
- 59% of people are afraid of how their providers would respond if they had a mental health condition.
- 63% of adults don’t know how to bring up mental health or how to explain what they are feeling.
Patients often want to bring this up but feel they can’t. Like breaking the ice in an employee training or class, once you start to speak about it, it gets easier, and speaking of professionals, your family doctor can be an excellent place to start.
Mental Illness Doesn’t Disappear On Its Own
Left untreated, mental health issues can get worse (not better). Similar to physical health, unless you’re actively and intentionally taking steps to advocate for your mental health, it can decline. People often don’t even realize their mental health is suffering until they have significant symptoms.
Mental health challenges can be subtle — until they’re not. And this often leads to health problems. For example, if you’re struggling to feel motivated to get up in the morning, it’s hard to feel motivated to brush your teeth, eat healthily, and exercise.
Deciding to talk to a doctor is the 1st step to feeling better.
Common Symptoms of Mental Health Concerns
Every mental illness has its own symptoms, but here are some common ones:
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Thinking negative thoughts about yourself
- Frequently feeling anxious or worrying a lot
- Irritability or moodiness
- Having trouble concentrating
- Not enjoying life like you used to
- Finding day-to-day life difficult
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
If you’ve noticed any of these signs/symptoms, schedule an appointment to discuss it with your family doctor or mental health professional.
Tips for Talking to Doctors About Your Mental Health
Set a Goal for the Appointment
What do you want to accomplish? Don’t rely on your memory at the moment. Write down the important information you need to mention. If you can recall specific episodes, identify triggering events, or have certain symptoms, these are all good things to discuss.
Sharing detailed information helps the doctor get the full picture of your health. For example, perhaps you just lost a close loved one or your significant other is talking seriously about divorce. Symptoms escalated after that. This can be vital information that helps your doctor determine how best to help you.
You might be curious about how nutrition or exercise can impact mental health. You might want to know about community resources, including those that are free for those who need them. How could you benefit from medication, therapy, or both? Don’t be afraid to ask.
Bring Someone with You
Invite a friend or family member for support and help you remember/understand what the doctor tells you. This can be particularly beneficial if your memory or processing is suffering because of mental health challenges. But a little constructive support from a friend is always a good thing. And this same person can help you stay accountable to yourself for getting the help you need.
Ready to Talk to a Mental Health Professional?
Call Jonas Hill – We’re Here to Help. We have a compassionate interdisciplinary team who will listen to your feelings and symptoms and work with you to develop a personalized plan to restore emotional stability and help you feel like you again. We work hard to make this journey as easy and stress-free as possible. Here’s What to Expect.
Jonas Hill Hospital & Clinic, a division of Caldwell Memorial Hospital provides our community with safe, dignified and integrated care for adult patients experiencing an acute mental health need. We provide hope, treatment, and healing through a holistic program of evidence-based psychiatric treatment, team-based medical care, and education provided by engaging and dedicated professionals in a safe and healing environment. Contact us today for more information. A safe space to heal.