Schedule an appointment
We might have to miss work, school, or something else, but making time to discuss our health with a family doctor is worth the time and effort. A lot of men make excuses about why they can’t see a doctor – but remember that our health should be our first priority.
Ask for extra time
Doctor’s appointments are usually scheduled for 10 minutes. Ask for extra time when you make the appointment to give yourself a chance to discuss your concerns thoroughly.
What you can say:
- “Are there any times available for a longer appointment? I need to discuss some issues we haven’t gone over before.”
- “I have a lot to discuss – are there any 15-20 minute slots open? This is all for one medical concern.”
Prep for the meeting
If you have the energy for it, preparing for the meeting with your family doctor can be useful for making the most of your time together.
Make notes about symptoms
Give your doctor a complete view of what’s going on – describe any physical, emotional, cognitive, or interpersonal problems that you’re experiencing. Complete our Self Check, print it out, and bring the results with you.
Write out things that may be difficult to discuss
Sometimes guys get too stressed to remember exactly what they want to say when they meet with their family doctor. Some things are simply hard to talk about. Whether these are personal issues that are affecting our health or thoughts about hurting ourselves, sometimes it’s easier to write them down and show our physicians.
Think about questions that you’re likely to be asked
Your doctor will ask a variety of questions in order to get a better sense of your symptoms and experiences. Here are some typical questions you may hear:
- “How long have you felt this way?”
- “Do you usually feel down like this, or is this something new?”
- “Does your mood swing back and forth from really down to really high?”
- “On a scale of 1 to 10, can you rate your mood over the last couple weeks?”
- “Do you ever have suicidal thoughts?”
- “Do you drink alcohol or use any drugs?”
Ask a friend or relative to accompany you
If you’re nervous about going to your appointment, don’t feel confident that you can talk about yourself, or are too stressed to remember what to say, you may want to ask a friend or family member to come along with you. It’s no big deal for your doctor – this is pretty common.
What to say during your appointment
Let your doctor know all that’s going on and work together to figure out the best treatment options. Start out with what’s most important in order to get the most out of your appointment.
Give your doctor the lay of the land
Besides describing your symptoms, tell your doctor if you’re currently under the care of any other healthcare professionals, if you have any other medical issues, what medications or supplements you’re taking, and if your family has any history of mental illness.
Be as specific as possible about how you’re feeling and the impact it’s having on your life.
Here are some examples of what you can say to get the conversation started:
- “I feel like shit these days – I’m too tired to go to work, I keep going out drinking and calling in sick.”
- “I can’t sleep at all. I keep lying in bed stressed out about making enough money to support myself.”
- “I don’t want to see my friends anymore, I’m sick of everyone.”
- “I’m always grumpy and pissed off, I never seem to be myself anymore.”
- “Sex isn’t interesting me like it use to and it’s getting harder to perform.”
- “I’ve been gaining (or losing) lots of weight recently.”
Be honest – even about the stuff that’s hard to talk about
You’ve taken the initiative to get this far, so don’t be embarrassed, downplay, or avoid certain subjects. If anything is too hard to talk about, try writing it down, handing a note to your doctor and sitting with them while they read it. Rest assured – whatever you got going on, your doctor has heard it before.
What you can say:
- “I have been having thoughts about hurting myself or taking my life.”
- “I’m lonely. I’m sick of my family, there’s no one I care about.”
- “I haven’t been the same since my last relationship ended, I have no confidence left.”
- “I’ve been drinking a lot lately. I drove home drunk last week.”
Ask lots of questions
Make sure you understand everything you talk about. Ask questions, and don’t be embarrassed if you have to ask more than once; depression can make it very difficult to think clearly.
What you can say:
- “What do you think is causing me to feel like this?”
- “What treatment options or services do you recommend for me?”
- “What can I do about my sleep/appetite/energy levels?”
- “Do you think I should see a psychiatrist or a therapist?”
Discuss treatment options
It’s important to have a solid understanding of all treatment options available to you – why you’re doing them, how they work, and the time frame for their effectiveness.
What you can say:
- “What are the pros and cons of this treatment?”
- “How long will it take till I notice if it’s working?”
- “Will there be any side effects or other consequences?”
- “What should I do if I don’t think it’s working?”
- “Is there anything I should avoid doing with this treatment?”
- “Can you treat me or can you recommend any services or other professionals?”
Ask your doctor about other resources and connecting with professionals in your community.
Double-check before leaving
Before you leave the office, do a quick recap to clarify your understanding of the situation.
- Explain in your own words what’s going on and what steps you will be taking to get better.
- Make sure you and your doctor are on the same page for monitoring how you are doing with follow up appointments and how often you need them.
- If you are having trouble remembering anything, write it down.