First I think you have to understand what a Psychiatrist is, They have been to Medical school and they can write prescriptions for medication. A Psychologist or therapist can not prescribe medication. So if you need counseling or therapy that does not require medication you may opt not to see a psychiatrist. Most if not all of us have mental issues from time to time, its normal. The line between sanity and insanity is very fine and often quite blurred.
Before you think I am speaking out of school, let me say I worked with the criminally insane for many years and I have a son who is bipolar with psychotic features. Depression also runs in my family, I, myself have suffered from it.
A great deal has to do with the coping skills you have learned through life, and the trauma you have experienced in life. Not all issues that appear to be related to mental health are a mental in nature, some physical illnesses can be the cause. Just one example, my Uncle became extremely paranoid and was sure he was being followed to work, he would get up earlier and leave early to foil the ones following him but without success, they would still be there. Fortunately my Aunt ( his sister) was a medical doctor and recommended he have a complete physical. It was discovered that his thyroid had quit functioning.
So you may first want to start with your physician before seeing a psychiatrist. I won’t give you a magic number of days or weeks, your problem should exist before you seek help. Most important is how it is affecting your quality of life. If the impact is great then the sooner you seek help the better. Most of us, fear being labeled crazy and while there is still a stigma, the stigma has been greatly reduced.
Many psychiatric problems are related to brain chemistry and people have come to understand that we lack control over that, in traditional manner, and that it is not so horrible to seek treatment for the problem. Anymore then a diabetic can will their bodies to produce insulin.
Most of us are poor judges of our own behavior, sense of logic or mental illness. I have met many individuals who thought they were quite sane and normal when they were not. So even though you may feel justified in your actions and behaviors, you may want to listen to what your family and friends have to say, even if you don’t like what they are saying.
Once you have decided to seek help, check into the doctor you are considering as you would any health care professional, and then go! You have taken the first and largest step to regaining your total health.