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“How bad do I need to be before I see a psychiatrist?” We hear that question a lot. The truth is it’s probably the wrong question to be asking.

Patients often feel like they need to be at a certain level of severity before seeing a psychiatrist. In their minds, it’s an escalation of care, which means they ought to meet some criteria before escalating, a mental health tipping point, if you will. But it’s not like that at all.

when-to-see-a-psychiatristAt Ampelis Health, our psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners treat patients across Utah at all levels of depression severity. Whether your depression is mild, moderate, severe, treatment-resistant or well-controlled, you can access psychiatric care at Ampelis Health for relief.

While choosing a mental health provider is much more personal than choosing a mechanic, we can use car repair as a rough analogy. When you decide to take your car to a mechanic, you can choose a general mechanic who works on all makes, models, and varieties of cars. You can also choose to take your car to a mechanic who specializes in your make of car (at a dealership, for example). Your car does not have to meet any level of diagnostic criteria to choose one mechanic over another.

When you choose a mechanic who specializes in your make of car, you can be certain that the mechanic is well-trained and has a higher level of expertise on your specific make and model. The mechanic may even have access to specialized tools not typically used by a general mechanic.

Not to stretch the analogy too far, but this is why we generally recommend patients see a psychiatrist if they are suffering from depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, or other mental health disorders. The skill and expertise of a psychiatrist to diagnose and treat your specific condition greatly increases your chances for a successful outcome. Psychiatrists at Ampelis Health also have access to specialized tools like TMS, an innovative treatment option for depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other disorders.

When Should I See a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are experts at diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. If you feel like you are struggling with aspects of mental health, making an appointment with a psychiatrist is an excellent first step to find hope and healing.

But how do you know if you are dealing with a mental health issue or something else? Here are some signs that may indicate you are experiencing a mental health issue.

Signs You Should See a Psychiatrist

It may seem obvious, but if you are experiencing persistent feelings of depression or anxiety, that is a good indicator it is time to see a psychiatrist for help. (You can learn about the 10 warning signs of depression on our blog).

If your mental health symptoms are interfering with your daily life, such as ability to work or attend school, your relationships, or overall quality of life, that can be a good sign it is time to consult a psychiatrist. For example, one patient was prevented from attending a meet-up with friends she hadn’t seen in years due to overwhelming anxiety. Another patient had extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, causing him to skip school classes or miss work multiple days.

Sometimes people wonder if they are dealing with depression or if they just don’t like going to work (or school), which is why they skip work (or school) so often. A psychiatrist can help determine root causes. There may be other indicators of mental health issues you are not aware of that a psychiatrist can pick up on.

Another good reason to visit a psychiatrist is if you notice sudden and unexplained changes in your behavior, mood, or thought patterns. For example, if you notice you have become moodier lately, or are more withdrawn, or if you no longer like to pursue activities you used to enjoy (such as hobbies), these can all be indicators it is time to consult with a psychiatrist.

A critical sign that should never be ignored is if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicide. If you are concerned you might be in imminent danger, it is best to contact a 24-hour suicide helpline or visit an emergency room. These resources are equipped to help the most urgent cases. If you are concerned about recurring intrusive thoughts of suicide or self-harm, visiting a psychiatrist is an excellent option to get the help you need.

What Is It Like To See a Psychiatrist?

Sometimes patients worry about the actual experience of meeting with a psychiatrist. The typical media portrayal of a psychiatric visit involves lying on a couch and talking about your childhood. But that’s not usually how the visit goes (unless you really want it to!).

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in disorders of the brain. (Source) Visiting a psychiatrist is much like a visit with any other doctor, minus the exam table. You will sit in a comfortable chair and discuss your situation. What symptoms are bothering you? Are there any new symptoms? What impact is your condition having on your life? The more information the psychiatrist has, the better able they are to provide you with a care plan suited to your exact needs.

Ampelis Health Welcomes Utah Mental Health Patients

If visiting a psychiatrist seems intimidating, it helps to keep in mind that they are there to help you. Remember that you don’t have to wait until your depression reaches a certain level of severity before seeking help from a psychiatrist. In fact, early intervention can actually lead to better outcomes, so it is better to seek help early rather than wait until later.

If you are hesitant about whether to see a psychiatrist, please call us today at 435-776-5909 and we can help you determine the best next step for you. Our Utah psychiatrists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners welcome new patients at our offices in Highland, Utah and South Ogden, Utah.

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