Speak the Language of Psychiatrists

To get the most out of your psychiatry appointments, it can be very helpful to "speak the language" of psychiatrists. Here are some commonly used terms that you might hear when talking to psychiatrists.

Intake Appointment or Consultation
This is the first appointment you have with the psychiatrist. It typically takes 45-60 minutes and is more extensive than follow-up appointments. They will ask you questions about your current issues as well as your history.

Medication Management
This is when the psychiatrist is primarily helping you to manage psychiatric medications, these appointments are typically 15-30 minutes long. They are different from psychotherapy appointments, which are typically 45-50 minutes long.

Diagnosis
A diagnosis is when the psychiatrist thinks they know what kind of challenge or problem you are dealing with. It is very important to have a correct diagnosis so you can design a good treatment plan. Psychiatrists spend 8 years training on "differential diagnosis" so they can give you an expert opinion on diagnosis quickly, often during the intake appointment!

Prognosis
After you have a diagnosis, the psychiatrist can talk with you about prognosis. This term describes what you can expect from your diagnosis, in terms of the success rates of different treatments, how long it will last, and if it is likely to happen again.

Treatment Plan
This describes the goals and actions that are being recommended by your psychiatrist. The plan should include clear instructions about medication, but it should also include recommendations for non-medication treatments, "homework" for you to do until your next appointment, coordination of care between the psychiatrist and other providers, etc.

Coordination of Care
This is a fancy term for saying that your psychiatrist will want to communicate with other people important to your healthcare. Some examples include your primary care provider, your family members, your psychotherapist, etc. A good psychiatrist will ask you during your consultation appointment who you want them to coordinate care with and have you sign a release of information form to facilitate that communication.

We hope that these terms are helpful for your work with your psychiatrist! If you have questions, please contact us at 919-636-5240 or email office@cognitive-psychiatry.com.

Author
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill

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