Okay, I know these tips and tricks might not be the most popular tips and tricks with everyone, but they are MY tips and tricks and how I have survived having a mental illness so far. Things could change at any minute. On with number two.
2) If you have a choice, see a psychiatrist or a psychiatric mental health nurse practioner (PMHNP) and not a general practitioner. I know that many people have no choice about who they see for their treatment. Many people are lucky if they get to see a doctor AT ALL. But chances are, if you have a severe mental illness you will have some kind of access to a psychiatrist. If you don’t have that access right now, it would be great if you could find out how to see a psychiatrist. If you need or want to, depending on your level of functioning, you could apply for disability if you live in the United States. I know that other countries have free health care, so health insurance isn’t a big problem. I’ll make a post later about the health care industry in the United States and that mess. But, let’s just take a giant leap and assume you have the choice between a general practitioner or a psychiatrist.
I would say if you have the choice between the two, choose the psychiatrist, unless your general practitioner is incredibly versed in psychiatric issues and is like your family friend and makes house calls for free! No disrespect to GPs, but a GOOD psychiatrist should be more up to date on things in the psychiatric world. They should also have a LOT more experience dealing with mental health issues and people with psychiatric problems. Just as a side note, when I’m talking about psychiatrists, I always try to use the term “good psychiatrist” because that is what you’ll need. More on that later, but I just wanted to mention that you do need someone who is good, not a lousy psychiatrist, and there are those out there too.
Anyway, the main reasons for seeing a psychiatrist rather than a GP is that they will have more experience, training and knowledge about mental illnesses for the most part. I have heard of people going to a GP for depression or something like that, but I still wouldn’t recommend that if you have a choice. Mental illnesses are difficult to treat and diagnose and even though a GP may have a medical degree, it doesn’t mean they have the experience with the nuances of treating mental illness.
Forget about the stigma of having a mental illness or seeing a psychiatrist. When it comes to your health, there are more important things than stigma. I know, easy for me to say. I guess having had a severe illness has afforded me with little choice as to how to deal with the stigma issue. I can either pretend like there is nothing wrong with me, or be honest and open about my issues and hope that other people can relate or understand. If they can’t, too bad for them. I can’t change my life or who I am to make them less uncomfortable. I guess I’ll write more about stigma later. Anyway, I don’t mean to poopoo the whole stigma issue and make it sound like it is easy to admit that you need a psychiatrist, but if you have a severe mental illness and you want to get better, it is a good idea to see a psychiatrist.
Another option instead of seeing a psychiatrist, but still probably better than seeing a GP is to see a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP). People often find the PMHNP to be more caring or down to earth, but they usually have a lot of experience, are often less expensive than a psychiatrist, and they are normally well versed to the nuances of mental illness treatment. For some people the PMHNP might even be a better choice than the psychiatrist. It all depends on the situation and the care provider.
So, it all depends on who is the best care provider for you. If you have a bad psychiatrist and can instead see a good GP, then I would tell you to switch. But generally I would say see the psychiatrist. But, how do you know if you have a good or bad psychiatrist? Well, if you are overmedicated or undermedicated, you have a bad rapport with your provider, your provider doesn’t listen to you or care about your needs, and you generally feel like they aren’t taking your case seriously or they don’t give a crap about you, then you may have a BAD psychiatrist. I guess I will write more about this later, but you probably know if you have a bad one. I will just say: please don’t give up on the entire field of psychiatry because you have had one or more bad doctors.
Well, I guess I’ll end this here. I could ramble on some more, but I’ve got to get going. Thanks for taking your time to read this. As always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions! Or feel free to leave a comment.