Talking to your doctor about your mental health can be tough. The topic isn’t easy to bring up, but as you age, it will become increasingly important to discuss.
In 2013, the World Health Organization found that approximately 15% of adults over the age of 60 suffer from a mental health disorder. You have the power to take care of yourself by taking action and proactively having conversations about your mental health with your doctor.
Here are a few ideas for making mental health discussions easier and more productive:
Come prepared to discuss your mental health.
As your appointment approaches, start to think of any out of the ordinary mental health symptoms you may be experiencing. For more information on early warning signs of mental illness, read our blog post about what to watch for as an older adult. If you are are struggling to complete everyday tasks or are getting extra stressed over simple activities, take note. Also, think about recent events in your life that may have triggered stress, and be prepared to tell your doctor about them. As you prepare, be sure to bring along a list of medications you are currently taking as well.
Create a list of questions about your mental health.
Having a prepared list of questions for your doctor will help you stay focused during your appointment. Some good things to ask include: What does this particular symptom indicate? How do you treat different types of mental illness? Are there therapy options in addition to medications that could be useful for me? What can I do to help myself? Do you have any written materials I could read?
Do research about mental health.
Although at times the internet can seem to be full of contradicting information, it can be worthwhile to spend some time online using trusted sites to gather information. Learn about different types of mental illnesses and their symptoms and treatments on sites like WebMD and MayoClinic.org.
Properly educating yourself before your doctor’s appointment will make you more likely to understand the information your physician discusses with you.
Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health.
Unfortunately, mental illness is still stigmatized in our culture, so many are afraid to talk about it openly with other people, including their doctors. Rather than shying away from conversations, approach them openly and honestly. Only then will you have the chance to help yourself get well.
If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of a mental illness, book a doctor’s appointment as soon as possible.It’s not something to be scared of or embarrassed about, but rather something to take action around.