Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Talking to Your Doctor About Bipolar Disorder

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with bipolar disorder. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can make the best choices for you and your family.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it simpler for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write down your questions so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you grasp what you are hearing. Ask for help, if needed.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your doctor

About Bipolar Disorder

  • What can I do to keep these symptoms from getting in the way of my relationships, work, and home life?

About Treatment Options

  • What treatments are right for me?
  • What medicines might help me and how long will they take to work?
  • What side effects can I expect from my medicines and what can I do about them?
  • Do you treat people with bipolar disorder?
  • If not, can you give me the names of providers who help people with this?

About Counseling

You may decide to try counseling. Ask counselors, social workers, psychologists, and/or family therapists questions about whether they work with people who have bipolar disorder. Make sure that you feel at ease with the mental health providers. You may want to ask:

  • What training and experience do you have in treating bipolar disorder?
  • How can you help my family members and friends cope?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long will I need to be treated?
  • How long are the sessions and how often will I have them?
  • What health insurance do you take?
  • Do you offer sliding scale fees?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Are there any lifestyle changes that can help me manage bipolar disorder?
  • What resources are available that could help me:
    • Eat better
    • Workout regularly
    • Find social support
    • Manage stress
    • Sleep and keep a daily routine

About Outlook

  • What are my chances of managing bipolar disorder?
  • How can I stop symptoms from coming back?
  • What will happen if I don't take my medicine?
REFERENCES:

Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114738/Bipolar-disorder. Updated August 20, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

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 25, 2018.

Management of bipolar disorder in adults. US Department of Veterans Affairs website. Available at: https://www.healthquality.va.gov/bipolar/bd_305_full.pdf. Published May 2010. Accessed September 26, 2018.

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 January 19, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD  Last Updated 9/25/2018