How do you feel about going to see a psychiatrist? Do you find yourself thinking about it negatively? Maybe you feel like a psychiatrist isn't going to be able to do anything or that they aren't going to know how to help you. Maybe you have had bad experiences with psychiatrists in the past.
Your feelings are valid, and it can be scary to think about seeing a psychiatrist when you’re going through life challenges—especially if your past experiences haven’t been good. Although it’s intimidating, there are plenty of great reasons to see a psychiatrist. The best thing you can do is go into it with an open mind and be willing to change your opinion once you see the benefits a psychiatrist can bring to your life.
What Is A Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a doctor who diagnoses and treats mental health disorders. These could include eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, to name a few. They perform different types of therapy depending on what they’re treating and can prescribe medication as well. Psychiatrists often work closely with therapists and counselors since those types of mental health professionals are often not able to prescribe medication to their clients.
How Can A Psychiatrist Help?
Psychiatrists can help a person in a lot of different ways. They might work with an individual, a couple, or an entire family to address a variety of issues. They give their opinions to doctors, therapists, and other medical professionals. Psychiatrists can assist in mental health crises and admit people to the hospital if that is what’s best for that person. Some people deal with long-term or chronic mental health conditions that need the regular attention of a psychiatrist to manage and treat. When people have a complex or otherwise difficult mental health disorder, they are often referred to a psychiatrist for specialized care. People might also see a psychiatrist if they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or ideation.
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 and is available to you 24/7.
What Are The Benefits Of Seeing A Psychiatrist?
Some of the benefits of seeing a psychiatrist include:
Part of finding a good psychiatrist is considering your wants, needs, and concerns. The process is about you, and rest assured that there is a mental health professional out there who is the right fit for you. The benefits of seeing a psychiatrist often outweigh any costs. This is because prioritizing one’s mental health is so important. Still, you might feel hesitant to visit a psychiatrist for a number of reasons. Below are some of those reasons. These fears are valid, but they do not have to be a reality in your life. You’re not alone in feeling this way; working through your concerns before you start seeing a psychiatrist can help ensure that your experience is a positive one.
Concern: My psychiatrist will push medication on me
A Different Perspective: Psychiatrists generally prescribe medications when they know that it can help you, in conjunction with the guidance that they give you. Using medication is not a requirement, even though your psychiatrist may recommend it. Ultimately, the decision is up to you. You may be able to see some dramatic results and improvements just by talking with a psychiatrist. Effective psychiatrists will likely be more focused on how they can talk to you than providing you with medication.
The information found in the article is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have.
Concern: My regular doctor can take care of me just fine
A Different Perspective: If you're experiencing a mental health disorder, your regular doctor might not be equipped to handle that. They usually won’t have the advanced training that it takes to address mental health concerns. Rather, because they don't have the training, they might refer you to someone who does have the expertise necessary, and that means a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. You’ll likely want someone who has experience helping people who are going through similar things. Your doctor takes care of your physical wellbeing, while a psychiatrist is trained to help heal your mind.
Concern: Psychiatrists make you lie on a couch and talk about your feelings
A Different Perspective: Psychiatrists want you to be as comfortable as possible during sessions. Whether that means lying down or standing up, they will not care. While you might talk about your feelings and childhood during some sessions, they each look differently. Sometimes you’ll sit in silence or cry if that is what you need that day. Other times you’ll do activities that help your mental state. Psychiatrists work with you to uncover what's going on in your life and why. Yes, that may include talking about your childhood and feelings, but that's not all that it's about. Therapy is about your needs; as such, sessions are tailored toward you.
Concern: Going to a psychiatrist carries a stigma with it
A Different Perspective: There’s no shame in seeing a psychiatrist. Although it might be intimidating, especially that first time, it can be an incredibly enriching experience. Going to a psychiatrist means that you're going to have the opportunity to address a variety of concerns in a safe environment. You're going to have the opportunity to understand your own emotions, thoughts, and feelings about things. You may get a diagnosis, but that's not a label on you. Rather, that's a tool that you can use to help you start working towards a solution and a better life for yourself. You may have people in your life who don’t understand therapy, or you might be worried about being judged. However, your mental health should come first. Seeing a psychiatrist is entirely confidential; if you don’t want to share with someone that you’re going to see one, you don’t have to. You should do what is best for you.
Concern: Getting help means I am weak
A Different Perspective: Asking for help is not a weakness. Asking for help makes you strong. It's all about helping you to feel better and letting you get on with the life that you want to live. Going to see a psychiatrist will bring change to your life, which isn’t always easy but is almost always worth it. You are not weak for seeking help; quite the opposite—it makes you strong and brave. It can take people a very long time to seek treatment for their mental health. If you’ve taken that step, you should recognize the power in it. As you begin to see positive changes in your life, you’ll be so grateful you were brave enough to reach out for help.
Concern: Medication will make me a different person
A Different Perspective: If you choose to take medication, there is a chance it will make you feel differently; however, note that these changes in yourself are often positive. Instead of looking at yourself as a new person, think of it as stepping more into who you are. The medication that your psychiatrist recommends can help you feel more like yourself again. Many people may not need to take medication while they're going through therapy, so you’ll have to speak with your psychiatrist to figure out the best option for you. Whether you take medication or not, the treatment plan chosen for you is intended to help, not to harm. If your medication does affect you in a way you don’t like, there’s always the possibility of switching to a new kind.
Concern: I can’t talk about myself for an entire hour
A Different Perspective: Psychiatrists are trained to talk with their clients, and you don’t need to worry about carrying the conversation. They will ask you good questions and guide you toward productive conversation. They are able to pinpoint specific issues that are bothering you and prompt you to talk about whatever is going on at the moment. Usually, you won’t even notice how much time has passed. If you don’t want to talk about a certain area, you don’t have to in that session. It's all about you when it comes to psychiatry.
Concern: I had a great childhood; I don’t need help
A Different Perspective: It’s great that you had a great childhood, as one’s upbringing affects many aspects of adulthood. However, it’s possible you could still benefit from the help of a psychiatrist. Maybe you’ve recently gone through something or don’t know how to handle an upcoming situation on your own. Talking to a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you necessarily have a mental health disorder. There are plenty of benefits to seeing one even if you’re experiencing small changes or problems in your life. Just having the opportunity to open up to someone who has no bias or vested interest in your decisions can be very useful.
Concern: I don’t want people I know to see me going into a psychiatrist’s office
A Different Perspective: A lot of people feel that way, and that's why a lot of offices try to be discreet. But there's another option too. You can see a psychiatrist entirely online, and then you don't have to worry about walking into an office or anyone being able to see you. If you’d prefer to meet in person, then know that what matters most is that you’re seeking help for your mental health. Even if someone does see you, they will probably feel proud of you for doing what is best for you.
Concern: I don't like talking to people about my feelings
A Different Perspective: Opening up to other people about your feelings can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to it. This is particularly true when you go see a psychiatrist for the first time since it’s a complete stranger. However, know that with the right psychiatrist, you can feel comfortable talking with them about anything. It is their job and goal to make you feel at ease so you can discuss whatever is on your mind. If you wind up with someone who you feel doesn’t understand you or who you aren’t comfortable around, never be afraid to switch. You are not tied to any one person, and therapy is all about your experience. Although the first few times might be scary, it’s likely to get easier and easier over time. Talking about your feelings can help you to live a happier, healthier life and give you tools for coping with whatever you’re going through.
Concern: I can’t afford to see a psychiatrist
A Different Perspective: Everyone deserves to see a mental health professional when they need it, no matter their financial situation. If you feel that you don’t have the money or resources currently, there are plenty of programs that you can go through to find a pro bono professional or a discounted program. Schools will often offer psychiatric help at little or no cost. There are also free hotlines and numbers that you can call that will help connect you with someone. Although you may have to put in some effort to find a reduced-cost or free program, your mental health is worth it.
Concern: I’ve seen a psychiatrist before and it didn’t work
A Different Perspective: It’s unfortunate when you have a bad experience with something because it can make you reluctant to try again. However, keep in mind there are lots of reasons it may not have gone well those other times. It’s possible that the psychiatrist you saw just wasn't the right match for you. Maybe you didn't feel comfortable opening up to them the way you needed to. Perhaps you weren't ready to take that step into psychiatric help and weren’t in a place to be completely open about your feelings yet. If you’re comfortable enough to tell your psychiatrist that you don’t feel like the sessions are making any difference, they may be able to switch up their therapy methods. They can try something new that may work better for your needs, but this requires you to be open and honest with them. There are several different reasons that you might not have clicked with a psychiatrist before, but you can find someone else and see great results and improvements in your life.
Navigating Mental Health With BetterHelp
If you’ve decided that it’s time to see a mental health professional, online therapy platforms like BetterHelp can be very useful. You’ll work one on one with a therapist to address any and all concerns you might be having in life. Since BetterHelp is entirely virtual, you just need a phone, laptop, or tablet to connect with your therapist. It’s that easy and convenient. You won’t ever have to worry about someone seeing you walk into a therapist’s office or discussing your treatment with anyone but your therapist. You should recognize that taking that first step is brave, and your mental health will thank you for it. Reach out today and begin your healing journey with BetterHelp.
There are plenty of reasons you might feel unsure, fearful, or skeptical of seeing a psychiatrist. This is especially true if you’ve never seen one before or if you had a bad experience in the past. However, if you find yourself going through something difficult in life, reaching out for help can make a huge difference. Recognize that there are a number of reasons you may not have had the best experience before, but that doesn’t mean this next time around can’t be beneficial for you. Sometimes prioritizing yourself means stepping out of your comfort zone. It’s intimidating but often worth it. Be proud of yourself for considering therapy at all and continue to do what is best for you and your mental health.