What Are Some Questions a Psychiatrist Asks a Patient?

A psychiatrist typically asks a new patient to describe her symptoms and explain what she hopes to gain from psychiatric treatment. During subsequent sessions, the psychiatrist tailors questions to the needs of the patient.

During the first visit with a new patient, the psychiatrist wants to know when the symptoms started, what effect the symptoms have on the patient’s daily life, if anything makes the symptoms better or worse, and what treatments, if any, the patient has tried to control the symptoms. If the patient has a family history of mental illness, the psychiatrist asks questions about the severity of the illness and the type of treatment provided.

Before making a diagnosis or recommending a treatment, a psychiatrist gets to know the patient by asking about the patient’s job and family. This information helps the psychiatrist determine the right treatment approach. After prescribing medication, the psychiatrist asks if the medication is helping the patient or causing any undesirable side effects. It is important to provide truthful answers so the doctor knows if a dosage adjustment is needed.

For a patient who decides to try therapy instead of medication, a psychiatrist asks questions about traumatic events in the patient’s life. This helps the psychiatrist uncover potential triggers and recommend an appropriate course of action.