Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
If you're seeking help for someone with mental illness, you may start by seeing his or her family doctor or a general practitioner. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a psychiatrist.
It's a good idea to prepare for the appointment. Here's some information to help you.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms your loved one is experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of medications, vitamins and supplements that he or she is taking.
- Go with your loved one to the appointment. Getting the information firsthand will help you know what you're facing and what you need to do for your loved one.
- Write down questions to ask the doctor.
Preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time with the doctor. For schizoaffective disorder, some basic questions to ask include.
- What is likely causing the symptoms or condition?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- How will you determine the diagnosis?
- Is this condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What treatments do you recommend for this condition?
- What are the side effects of medications commonly used for this condition?
- If the treatment approach isn't effective, what will you recommend next?
- What kinds of counseling might help?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't understand something.
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:
- When did your loved one first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Has your loved one talked about suicide?
- How is your loved one functioning in daily life — is he or she eating regularly, going to work or school, bathing regularly?
- Have other family members or friends expressed concern about your loved one's behavior?
- Have any of your loved one's close relatives been diagnosed or treated for mental illness?
What you can do in the meantime
If your loved one talks of suicide; isn't attending to basic needs, such as eating, bathing and so on; or becomes violent, seek immediate help. If your loved one is violent, don't try to subdue him or her yourself. Call 911 or your local emergency number for the police.
- Schizoaffective 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. 14, 2010.
- Schizophrenia. In: Hales RE, et al. The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychiatry. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Pub; 2008. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Factsheet: Schizoaffective disorder. Mental Health America. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/index.cfm?objectid=C7DF97FD-1372-4D20-C8F0FBF1C871E040. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Schizoaffective disorder. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Schizoaffective_Disorder.htm. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Gejman PV, et al. The role of genetics in the etiology of schizophrenia. Psychiatric Clinics of North America. 2010;33:35.
- Jibson MD. Schizophrenia: Clinical presentation, epidemiology, and pathophysiology. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Jibson MD. Schizophrenia: Diagnostic evaluation and treatment. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Schizoaffective disorder. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec15/ch202/ch202d.html. Accessed Oct. 14, 2010.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 30, 2010.
- Schizoaffective. Micromedex Healthcare Series. http://www.micromedex.com. Accessed Dec. 2, 2010.