Mental Illness: How To Get A Proper Diagnosis
By Natalie Patrick

Getting a proper diagnosis of a mental illness is the most important key to ensuring you get the best treatment. You will be able to have a better quality of life once you know what you’re up against. It’s shocking that millions of people go undiagnosed and untreated for a mental illness. Mainly, the stigma discourages them from asking for help.

Mental Illness: How To Get A Proper Diagnosis

Of course it’s in my head

Society has a way of making us feel like our mental health isn’t important. Stigma brainwashes people with the false beliefs that mental illness is taboo, a weakness, or simply not real.

“It’s all in your head.”

Really? Of course it’s in my head! If it were in my ass, would you then take me seriously?

People may say:

  • “Just think happy thoughts”
  • “Maybe you just have a bad attitude”
  • “You’ll get over it”

I’ve heard it all. The best thing you can do is just ignore the ignorance. Don’t let closed-minded people affect your health and recovery. Ignore the “rudes” and get the help you need!

How to get a proper diagnosis

If you had the flu, you would see your family doctor. If you had a skin disease, you would see a dermatologist. Diabetes? You would seek help from an endocrinologist. So, why would you not want specialized help when it comes to your mental health?

This was my biggest mistake when trying to get help. I was depending on my family doctor to treat a mental illness. Not that these general physicians can’t help you, but they don’t have the specialized knowledge and expertise to give a proper diagnosis and treat your illness. For many years I went misdiagnosed, and that caused my recovery to suffer greatly. The medications didn’t work because they were meant for an illness I didn’t have.

See a specialist

It is so important that you find a psychiatrist or even a psychologist to get the proper diagnosis that you deserve and need. A psychiatrist focuses on diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. You may have to wait to see one, but it is very much worth it. A psychiatrist will be your salvation if you want to overcome your mental illness, and live a successful, happy life.

Psychiatrists may want medical labs and psychological tests performed before diagnosing you. He or she will want to know information about your family medical history, your symptoms, and your life at home and work.

There is no medical test that can specifically prove a mental illness. That’s why your specialist will want to evaluate you in a few different ways. A psychiatrist will want to rule out any physical ailments that could be causing your symptoms.

Mental health professionals use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine a diagnosis. This manual includes feelings, symptoms, and behaviors over a period of time that you must meet in order to have an official diagnosis.

Your psychiatrist will find the best medications that will help your mental illness. If you’re looking to get therapy, they will refer you to a therapist or counselor in your area. Your psychiatrist is there to help you in any way they can. So, it’s good to be honest and prepared for your appointments.

How to find a psychiatrist

In the USA, first check with your health insurance company. They will give you a list of psychiatrists in your area who accept your medical insurance. Or if you’ve been seeing your family doctor for your condition, tell them you want and need better help. He or she should be able to refer you to a mental health professional, and this process can be a lot quicker and easier than finding one on your own.

If you want more information on finding a psychiatrist or therapist who’s right for you, check out these links.

Counseling is really important during this journey. It helps to have someone to talk to. A therapist will listen when it seems no one else will.

Preparing for your appointment

“What do I talk about?”

“Is there anything I need to take with me?”

“What should I ask?”

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When you finally get to see your psychiatrist or psychologist, make sure you are prepared. You don’t want to forget anything. I recommend creating a list of your symptoms, emotions, and anything that you feel mentioning or asking at your appointment.

Write it down!

Keep track of your moods, symptoms, triggers, physical symptoms and any life changes.

There are apps that can help you manage your moods and symptoms:

Bring your medical insurance card, drivers license, and a list of medications that you are already taking. Take a pen and paper if you want to take notes during your appointment.

After your diagnosis

It can be an emotional experience getting a mental illness diagnosis. For me, it was a huge relief! But it’s normal to feel angry, confused, or ashamed. Just know that you are on the right path to recovery. You may not find a cure, but it is possible to live a positive, prosperous life.

So, what’s next?

Research, research, research.

The more information you get about your illness, the better you will be at managing and understanding it. Keep track of your moods and symptoms for future appointments. If medication is prescribed, research it too. It’s good to know the side effects and warnings when taking any medication.

Ask your psychiatrist about any local support groups you can get involved with. Or find support groups on Facebook. Your journey will be much easier if you have a great support system.

Pinterest is my favorite coping outlet for my mental health. It’s full of valuable information on mental illness, treatments, and recovery tips. And it makes me feel less alone when I have so many new followers and re-pins every single day on my Mental Health board.

Final thoughts

Seeing a psychiatrist is, honestly, the best way to get a proper diagnosis for a mental illness. It takes a lot of courage to seek help, but it’s the right direction. There is very much life beyond a mental health diagnosis, and I am here to prove that! With time, effort, and the right support system, you CAN overcome this!

Please, share this post on Pinterest or Facebook. Too many people are out there suffering in silence, and this may help them in the right direction, I hope. Don’t forget to sign up for email updates on all upcoming posts about overcoming mental illness, and living a positive, prosperous life! Thank you, lovely!

Reproduced with permission, originally posted on thatsnatalie


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