Mental Health Check-Ups – When to See a Psychologist

Everyone has a rough patch now and then, but how do you know if you should seek help?

A mental health check-up involves a trained professional looking at how you are feeling. They will ask about symptoms and how they are impacting your life. The key is catching them early to prevent them from snowballing.

1. Depression

The first person to see if you have depression or anxiety should be your primary care doctor. They will assess whether the symptoms are caused by a physical condition and refer you to a mental health professional if needed.

Psychiatrists and psychologists are both trained to help with anxiety and depression. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, however, which means they can also prescribe medication. They will ask you about your symptom history and how long you have had them, as well as about any medications you are currently taking.

If you decide to see a psychiatrist or psychologist, be sure to check that they are in your insurance coverage network before you make an appointment. If they are not, you can still find help by calling Lifeline or Beyond Blue for information on free and low cost services.

Depression and anxiety are easier to treat if they are caught early. A mental health check-up provided by Modern Medicine can help you avoid the onset of a full-blown disorder, and most people who undergo therapy experience lessening or elimination of their symptoms.

2. Anxiety

A mental health check-up is essential when dealing with anxiety, whether it’s affecting you or someone close to you. If sleep disturbances, persistent worry about daily responsibilities, or noticeable shifts in your child’s behavior arise, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional is crucial. Your GP can conduct an initial evaluation and direct you to the appropriate support, including referrals to a specialized local Ballarat psychology clinic for tailored care by experienced psychologists.

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During the first visit, your mental health professional will ask you about your symptoms and when they started. They will also examine your medical, psychiatric and family history to get a clear picture of the problem.

Psychologists and therapists have different qualifications but share the same goal of helping you improve your mental wellbeing. Both use various treatment modalities and can help you change negative thoughts and behaviours. It is recommended to take some time to find a therapist you feel comfortable with. Ask friends, co-workers and neighbours for recommendations if you don’t have any. Many people need to try out more than one practitioner before they find the right fit.

3. Grief

Many people put off seeing a therapist because they are afraid of being judged or feel like it’s not as important as a physical check-up. But just like a physical exam, a mental health screening can help catch problems early and prevent them from becoming more serious, such as depression or anxiety.

During a mental health screening, your doctor will ask questions about your emotions and how they affect your life. They will also take a look at your medical history and any medications you’re taking. This will help them rule out any physical causes for your symptoms, such as thyroid disease or electrolyte imbalances.

Both psychologists and therapists can be helpful in treating mental health issues. However, a psychiatrist has a medical degree and can order or perform a variety of tests to determine if you have a mental illness. They use criteria from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to diagnose conditions.

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A therapist, on the other hand, typically has a master’s degree in a field like social work, marriage and family therapy, or mental health counseling. They may rely on talk therapy techniques to help you overcome your mental health challenges, but they can’t make medical diagnoses like a psychiatrist can.

4. Relationships

Mental health issues can affect all areas of a person’s life and should be taken just as seriously as physical ones. It’s important to get regular checkups for emotional well-being so that warning signs are spotted and treated as soon as possible, before they worsen.

A good place to start is a screening test to look for common mental disorders, like anxiety, depression, eating disorders and PTSD. A therapist or psychologist can then conduct a more in-depth psychological assessment. This can involve looking at your past medical history and asking about the medicines you take, as some medications can affect mental health.

It’s worth noting that although psychologists are qualified to do counseling and psychotherapy, they aren’t medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication (with the exception of five states). Instead, they will often work in conjunction with a psychiatrist for medical treatment. When choosing a therapist or psychologist, look for someone who is open-minded and empathetic, and who allows you to decide the course of your therapy. The best way to find one is to do a quick interview over the phone, suggests Friedman.

5. Stress

A psychologist can be a valuable ally when you are dealing with stress. They can help you find coping mechanisms and offer an unbiased set of ears to listen to you talk through your problems. They also can provide techniques to improve mental clarity and focus so that you can feel empowered throughout your day and perform at your best when it matters most.

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It is important to know what symptoms to look for and when you should see a psychologist. Symptoms can range from mild and nearly unnoticeable to severe and having a major impact on your quality of life.

If you have any mental health concerns, your local doctor (general practitioner or GP) will conduct a basic mental health check-up which includes a combination of questions and physical examination. Your GP may refer you to a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist depending on your needs. It is important to be as honest and accurate as possible when answering these questions so that your GP can make the most informed diagnosis. Treatment options vary from person to person but often involve cognitive-behavioral therapy, support groups and medications.