Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you've made the choice to seek help for a phobia, you've taken a huge first step. Start by talking to your primary care doctor. If it seems that you have a genuine phobia, you'll likely be referred to a mental health provider for further evaluation and treatment. These suggestions can help you get the most from your appointment.
- Write down all the symptoms you're experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your anxiety. Phobias generally cause both physical and psychological distress. Be sure to note what triggers your anxiety, how you have tried to deal with it, and factors that make it better or worse.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking. Better yet, take the original bottles and a written list of the dosages and directions.
Although your doctor is likely to ask you a lot of questions about your symptoms and concerns, you should be prepared to ask questions, too. For example:
- What might have caused me to develop this fear?
- Is this something that will go away on its own? Or, is there anything I can do on my own to improve my symptoms? For instance, if I'm afraid to fly, should I force myself to fly anyway?
- What treatments do you recommend for this disorder?
- What are the side effects of medications commonly used for this condition?
- If I decide to take medications, how long will it take for my symptoms to improve?
- If the first medication I try isn't effective, what will you recommend next?
- Would talk therapy help me?
- How much improvement can I expect if I follow your recommended treatment plan?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
In addition to your prepared questions, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time during your appointment.
- Anxiety disorders. 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. 14, 2010.
- Ciechanowski P, et al. Overview of phobic disorders in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.
- Phobic disorders. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec15/ch196/ch196e.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/nimhanxiety.pdf. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Augustyn M. Overview of fears and specific phobias in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 29, 2010.