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Consultation

What to expect when seeing a psychiatrist for the very first time, and other concerns

You may need a referral to see a mental health professional, if you are feeling stressed out, depressed or having unusual experiences, and it is affecting your day to day life. You can either get a referral from a polyclinic, or directly book an appointment with the clinic or hospital.


 

 

 

However, if you do not get a referral from a polyclinic, you will be charged as a private patient, aka, more expensive. If you are a foreigner in Singapore, you should walk in directly to the clinic/hospital, since foreigners are not entitled to subsidies.

Each consultation for a subsidised patient costs around $33-$35 per session, excluding medication(if any).

When you are seeing a psychiatrist for the very first time, you may be scared, worried, or anxious. You should treat it like a visit to a GP or any ordinary doctor. First, the psychiatrist may ask you about your family history, whether your family has any history of mental illness. The psychiatrist will also ask you about your personal history/life story, ie. any traumatic experiences, any learning difficulties, whether you had difficulty socialising, difficulty with academic performance etc. He/she will also ask you if you had any symptoms of mental illness, like poor appetite, sleeping problems, any hallucinations, whether you have mood fluctuations etc.(for the past 6 months, 1 mths etc.) It is best to be honest and upfront with your psychiatrist, so that he can diagnose and treat you properly. He will also ask you if you are taking any medication, if you smoke or drink alcohol, or if you are using drugs recreationally. You can take the opportunity to highlight any current stressors or any concerns that you may have.

If the psychiatrist suspects that you have a mental disorder, he may prescribe you with medication, and order blood tests and brain scans such as a CT scan or MRI. Usually fluvoxamine or fluoxetine is a first-line treatment for depression, and anxiety, or stress without any diagnosable mental illness yet. If you report hallucinations but your symptoms are not very severe, he or she may prescribe you with fluvoxamine for the time being. If you are diagnosed with psychosis, usually psychiatrists will prescribe you with an antipsychotic called risperidal.

You should never stop the medication on your own, and you should report any unwanted side effects to your psychiatrist, so that he can adjust your medication accordingly, or switch to another medication. It is important to have an open communication system with your psychiatrist, so that you can broach any concerns, and the psychiatrist can change your medication if it is not effective. Sometimes, you may have to try out different medications before finding one that works for you.


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