You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with bipolar disorder. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
Specific Questions to Ask Your doctor
About Bipolar Disorder
What can I do to keep these symptoms from interfering with my ability to function in my relationships, work, and home life?
About Treatment Options
What treatment options are available for me?
What medications might help me and how long will they take to work?
What side effects can I expect from my medications and what can I do about them?
Do you treat people with bipolar disorder?
If not, can you provide me with the names of mental health professionals who help people with bipolar disorder?
If you decide to try
counseling, interview counselors, social workers, psychologists, and/or family therapists who specialize in working with people (and their families) who have bipolar disorder. Make sure that you feel comfortable with the mental health professional. Some questions you may want to ask are:
What training and experience do you have in treating bipolar disorder?
How can you help my family members and significant others cope with my disorder?
What is your basic approach to treatment?
How long will I need to be treated for bipolar disorder?
How long are the sessions and how often will I have them?
What health insurance do you accept?
Do you offer sliding scale fees to accompany various financial circumstances?
About Lifestyle Changes
Are there any lifestyle changes that can help me to manage bipolar disorder?
What resources are available that could help me with:
Sleep and keeping a daily routine
What are my chances of successfully managing bipolar disorder?
How can I prevent a recurrence of symptoms?
What is likely to happen if I don’t take my medication?
Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/bipolar-disorder-tr-15-3679/index.shtml. Updated November 2015. Accessed September 12, 2016.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/healthcare-management/working-with-your-doctor/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed September 12, 2016.
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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
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