We know for many people, the first step to getting a diagnosis of Pre or Postnatal mental illness is to visit their GP. Here is our quick guide to getting the most from your appointment, as well as links to local services and a quick, downloadable info sheet.
Your first step is to book an appointment to see your GP. You can book to see your own doctor, or request a different doctor where available. If you don’t know your local GP, or want to find out more about services in your area, click here and enter your location.
If you need to be seen quickly you may only be able to see whichever doctor is available. Your doctors surgery staff can help you find the person most suitable to talk to. Your appointment will be around 10-15 minute long. If you feel you need longer, you may be able to book an extended appointment with reception. You do not have to tell reception why you need the appointment if you aren’t comfortable – although they may ask, in order to find the most suitable appointment for you.
Next Step: Preparing for your appointment
PANDAS have a list you can take to your doctors, to help you remember what you want to see. Print and complete, or fill out your own. Add in how you have been feeling both mentally and physically, and anything you are concerned about. Don’t forget to add how old your children are, or how far into your pregnancy you are – whichever best applies. Include any medication you are on, or current diagnosis whether mental or physical. You can bring someone with you if you feel more comfortable, or you can go alone.
During the appointment
As well as explaining how you are feeling, you may have questions. Many of these may be answered but you can write down anything you want to know at the time including questions about recovery, treatments, medications, and access to support or counselling. Your GP will ask questions and it’s important to be honest about how you are feeling. Before your appointment, think about whether you would like to have someone with you who understands, for support, or if you would feel more comfortable alone. You can always ask the person with you to leave if you become uncomfortable. Your GP is legally obligated to keep whatever you tell them confidential unless they are worried that you or someone else is at risk.
You may be offered medication, given a diagnosis, or referred on to counselling. They may wish you to see a specialist mental health team, or want to speak with your midwife or health visiting team to ensure you are supported. You do not have to take any treatment you are not comfortable with, and you can ask for your GP to write down or explain anything you don’t understand. Your appointment will also be recorded alongside any diagnosis. Your GP may make a follow up appointment either to review how you are feeling, how any medications are affecting you, or check on the status of any referrals. Be sure to confirm what your next appointment will be about, and note down any referrals of anyone you need to speak to.