Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
In some cases, a health care provider or other professional may ask you about your mood, thoughts or behavior. Your doctor may bring it up during a routine medical appointment, especially if you seem to be agitated or distressed. Or you may decide to schedule an appointment with your family doctor to talk about your concerns. In either case, because obsessive-compulsive disorder often requires specialized care, you may be referred to a mental health provider, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for evaluation and treatment. In other cases, you may seek out a mental health provider on your own first.
What you can do
Being an active participant in your care can help your efforts to manage your OCD. One way to do this is by preparing for your appointment. Think about your needs and goals for treatment. Then:
- Write down any symptoms you've noticed, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you've scheduled the appointment. Try to have specific examples ready.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Take a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements.
- Make a list of questions you'd like to ask.
For OCD, basic questions to ask may include:
- Why do you think I have obsessive-compulsive disorder?
- How do you treat obsessive-compulsive disorder?
- How can treatment help me?
- Are there medications that might help?
- Will psychotherapy help?
- How long will treatment take?
- What can I do to help myself?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? Or can you recommend reliable websites to visit?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions whenever you don't understand something being discussed.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- Do certain thoughts go through your mind over and over despite your attempts to ignore them?
- Do you have to have things arranged in a certain way?
- Do you have to wash your hands, count things or check things over and over?
- When did your symptoms start?
- Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- What, if anything, seems to improve the symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen the symptoms?
- How do the symptoms affect your daily life?
- Have any relatives had a mental illness?
- Have you experienced any trauma or stress?
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Oct. 4, 2010.
- Ciechanowski P, et al. Overview of obsessive-compulsive disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.
- Hewlett WA. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. In: Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill Companies, Inc.; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3286970. Accessed Oct. 4, 2010.
- Practice guideline for the treatment of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association. http://www.psych.org/psych_pract/treatg/pg/prac_guide.cfm. Accessed Oct. 5, 2010.
- Stein DJ, et al. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Diagnostic and treatment issues. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2009;32:665.
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