Talk to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

Talk to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health

Many people find it hard to ask for help when it comes to their mental health. That’s even true when they’re talking with their primary doctor. But failing to speak up can hurt you.

If you think you’re taking care of yourself just by exercising and watching what you eat, you may be missing something important. Being strong mentally will help you in many ways, including supporting your physical health.

What Is Mental Health?

One in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health issue. But many don’t seek care until a crisis happens.

And many people who have been told they have a mental health issue like depression fail to seek treatment. Like any other illness, help is available for mental health problems. But you have to ask for help.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says loneliness, shame and blame often go along with mental illness. That can make it hard for someone to reach out for help.

If a loved one needs help but isn’t getting it, you can encourage and support them. Compassion and understanding, talking openly about the illness, and working to end fear and shame can improve the chance of someone getting the help they need to get better.

Speak Up

Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell your doctor about troubling thoughts or feelings. If you’re not talking to your doctor about mental health issues, you’re missing out on a chance to get better. Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional.

Having poor physical health can make it harder to get better from a mental health problem. Physical health issues can even cause mental health symptoms. Your doctor can help you learn what to do to improve and manage your physical health in ways that support your mental health.

At the same time, your mental health also alters your physical health. The two go hand in hand. Poor mental health makes it hard to make good choices for your physical health. Neglecting your mental health can lead to serious health problems.

Talking openly and honestly with your health care provider can help you make sure you’re doing what you need to do for your overall health.

Start Caring for Your Whole Self

There are lifestyle choices you can make that will help support your mental and physical health. Eating right, exercising and other self-care steps can help your body and your mind.

Mental Health America offers these suggestions

  • Be active
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get enough rest
  • Skip smoking and drugs
  • Learn to manage your stress
  • Avoid negative self-talk
  • Get the care you need

If you’re having issues with your mental health, you’re not alone — many people have mental health issues during their lives. Ask your doctor for help so you can start feeling better.

Prepping for Your Doctor Visit

Being prepared can help you make the most of your time with your doctor. That may include making a list of your symptoms, when they started and what makes them better or worse. A list of questions to ask your doctor is also helpful.

Johns Hopkins Medicine says don’t be shy when talking to your health care professional.

  • Make sure you cover the most critical concerns first.
  • Be honest. Not sharing the real picture with your doctor isn’t helpful. Bring up pains and feelings that are bothering you, even if it’s embarrassing. That helps your doctor help you.
  • If you don’t understand complex terms, ask.
  • Share your concerns about treatment options. Ask for help understanding your options.

The National Institutes of Health offers tips that can help you talk to your doctor and make the most of your appointment:

  • Bring a close friend or family member with you. Ask them to take notes.
  • Find out how to access your medical records. That way you can keep track of tests, treatment plans and your medicines.
  • Learn the best ways to contact your doctor.
Sources: What Is Mental Health?, 2019; Generalized Anxiety Disorder,   Depression,; Living with a Mental Health Condition,   National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); Types of Mental Health Professionals,   NAMI, 2019; Care For Your Health,   Mental Health America; Chronic Illness & Mental Health,   National Institute of Mental Health; Talking to Your Doctor,   National Institutes of Health, 2018; Don’t Be Shy: Four Tips For Talking to Your Doctor,   Johns Hopkins Medicine