What to ask your new psychiatrist

I answer questions on Quora.com as dispassionately as I can. For this question, I found myself writing an answer that wasn’t going to be helpful to the person who asked it. I wrote a boilerplate answer for Quora, and transferred my original answer to ExaminingMedicine.com. So, if you were wondering what to ask your new psychiatrist, here’s my two cents.

1. Ask him why people on the internet say quitting their antidepressants almost killed them. If he tells you the internet isn’t a good source of information, ask him where he keeps his hardcopy of PubMed.
2. Ask her what it means if someone becomes manic after starting on a psych drug. If she says it means the person had “underlying bipolar disorder,” ask her what it means if someone dies after starting on a psych drug. Does it mean they had underlying death?
3. If she suggests a drug, ask her why she thinks it will work. If she says she read the studies the drug company submitted to the FDA, affect a quizzical look, and say “Really?” Don’t talk or move for six minutes. Actually, do that no matter what she says.
4. Ask him how antidepressants work. If he says this…

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or this…

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or this…

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…laugh so hard you fall out of your chair. Bonus if you’re injured. Play it up a little.

5. Ask him how much malpractice coverage he has.

6. While gazing at her diplomas, ask her where she went to school. Sip from your water as she begins to answer. Let her answer sink in, spit a half-liter of Evian onto her leather desk, and cry out “OMG I thought it was a joke!”

7. Ask him what akathisia is. If he says it’s a fancy word for feeling restless, giggle for minute or two. If he says he doesn’t know, tell him it’s a fancy word for feeling restless, and giggle for minute or two. Either way, follow up with, “Well, this has been nice,” and leave.

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