When you have anxiety, it is hard to take that first step - calling the doctor and setting an appointment. You aren’t sure what to expect and it is scary to think about talking about how you are feeling with your doctor. Will he think you are crazy? Will he find something terribly wrong with you?
Preparing for Your Appointment
You will probably start with your family doctor. If this is someone you know or have seen before, you may feel more comfortable. Even so, it is easy to worry and forget what you want to ask or tell your doctor. Because of that, it may be helpful to prepare for the appointment. Writing down information will help you remember your symptoms and questions. Take a few days prior to your appointment to write down information about:
- Your symptoms - what happens when you feel anxious? Do you worry and think you can’t stop, feel dizzy, have heart palpitations, feel nauseous?
- When do you feel most anxious? - Do certain situations, places or events make you anxious? Are there certain times of the day you are more anxious than others?
- What are the major stressors in your life? - Are there any major life changes taking place or that you have recently experienced, such as a death, marriage, baby, divorce, move to a new location or job change? Are there traumatic events you have experienced recently or in your past?
- How long have you experienced symptoms of anxiety? - Have you just recently began having symptoms of anxiety or is this something you have dealt with for many years?
- What other health conditions do you have? - Your doctor should be aware of all of your health conditions, even those that are minor.
- What medications do you currently take? - Make a list of all medications, including vitamins, over-the-counter medications and supplements that you are taking.
The more information you can share with your doctor, the better (although you don’t want to write a book). This will help your doctor better understand your situation.
In addition to information about you, you may also want to write down any questions you have. It is easy to forget your questions and having them written down will help you remember. See: 12 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Anxiety
What Happens During the Appointment?
Your doctor will probably complete a physical examination and may ask you to go for some laboratory tests. This is to rule out any physical causes of your anxiety. He will probably ask you a number of questions, some of which you have answered in the information you wrote down:
- What are your symptoms and how severe are they?
- How do your symptoms interfere with daily activities?
- Do you have panic attacks?
- Do you feel anxious or worry every day or occasionally?
- How long have you been feeling anxious?
- Are there certain triggers to your anxiety?
- Do you avoid situations or people because you are afraid of becoming anxious?
- Are there certain things that make you feel better or less anxious?
- Do you drink alcohol?
- Do you take recreational drugs?
- Is there a family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions?
Your doctor should listen to your answers and offer you suggestions for managing your anxiety symptoms. A family doctor, however, does not specialize in mental health conditions and may not be qualified to treat you. He should provide referrals to psychiatrists or psychologists in your area that are better qualified to work with you and create a treatment plan for you.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.