Talking to a psychiatrist about mood disorder symptoms can be difficult. Appointments can be ten to fifteen minutes long, leaving little time to get into the deep nitty gritty like with a therapist. Part of a psychiatrist’s job is to ask the right questions to help gain the most information in such a small time, however, it can make the process much easier when you’re prepared.
Knowledge is power. Understanding an illness can give the ability to talk about it more openly. Let us use depression as an example. Psycom provides the diagnostic criteria, including how many symptoms must appear and for how long. This can be used as a checklist to inform the psychiatrist of symptoms. For example, “I feel down,” can be expanded upon by saying “I lack interest in things,” or “I have feelings of being worthless.” These statements provide more clarity to the condition. Another way to do research is to visit online forums or in-person support groups. Connecting with other people that have the same illness can help you better understand your own. These tools can cover areas that the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition) does not. For instance, if your parents do not understand your illness, others have had similar experiences and may provide insight. Perhaps you have very mild signs of depression, should you still seek medical attention?
Mood journals, or mood charts, allow for a person to keep track of their emotions from day to day. This helps identify trends, such as feeling anxious before a test, feeling depressed around certain holidays, or for two weeks you felt depressed with little interest in fun things for no reason. There’s no one way to mood journal. Some people may use stickers to track an overall mood for the day or fill in boxes with a color code. Healthline suggests writing down the emotion, what caused the emotion, is the emotion appropriate to the situation, and if the distress is a problem or a situation. This allows for context and action to be taken if needed. Beliefnet suggests a more complex mood journal that includes exercise, food, and sleep. It seems like more effort, but sleep, caffeine, and a little jog can help or hinder one’s mood. Knowing the symptoms of an illness and keeping track of them help when communicating to a psychiatrist. Being able to describe feelings and having evidence of patterns makes their job easier. Furthermore, this improvement in communication aids in diagnostics and treatment. For more information or to set up your appointment, contact us here.