With the societal taboo surrounding mental illnesses, it can be hard for anyone to discuss problems they might be having. This only increases for parents with children of any age, ranging from toddlers to teenagers. So how do you discuss growing anxiety with your doctor without feeling uncomfortable, ashamed or disheartened? We have a few answers for you.
You have already taken the first step. By reading this article, you are preparing to talk to your provider. Congrats! The next step is making a couple of lists. While this might sound tedious, it will help you present your symptoms and stressors to your physician without causing you extra stress. Plus, you’ll be less likely to forget something important. Here’s what you should include in your list:
- Symptoms – Describe how you feel, what time of day your symptoms occur most, and how they affect your life. Symptoms could include feelings of panic, problems sleeping, inability to remain still and calm, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath or even cold, sweaty palms and feet.
- Stressors – These can include anything that you believe to be a contributing factor to increasing anxiety. Whether it is traffic in the afternoon, rising responsibilities at work or a recent traumatic experience, try to be as open and honest as possible when detailing possible stressors to your provider.
- Family Health History – Include any health issues that run in your family. If your mother and grandmother dealt with depression and anxiety, that is important for your provider to know.
- Medications – Include a detailed list of any medications you are taking. Plus, include any health problems your might be facing, physical, emotional or mental.
- Possible Questions – We all get a little nervous when talking to a doctor or nurse practitioner, so be sure you write down any important questions you want to ask during your visit. This can help keep you on track and get the most out of the appointment. Questions could include anything from possible tests to seeing a psychiatrist to therapy options to self-help.
Your provider is going to ask you multiple questions. Be prepared for this and try to not get defensive, even if the questions seem prodding or uncomfortable. Remember, your provider needs all of the information to provide the best treatment possible. Here are a few questions you can expect on the day of your visit.
- How do your symptoms affect your daily life?
- Have you ever experienced a panic attack?
- Are you prone to avoiding certain events, situations or people because they make you anxious?
- Are these feelings continuous or just every now and then?
- Are there any traumatic experiences in your past?
- Do you drink alcohol or take recreational drugs? (Please be honest here.)
Make Yourself a Priority
As parents, we often put ourselves on the backburner. But when it comes to mental illness, especially disorders like depression and anxiety, if you are experiencing feelings of panic or any of the other symptoms of anxiety, take the time to not only see your provider, but also prepare for the appointment.
As a final note, remember that most people experience feelings of anxiety at one point or another in their lives. It is nothing to feel uncomfortable or ashamed of. Your medical professional is here to guide your through the healing process so you can lead a happier and healthier life for you and your children!