As somebody who suffers from, or believes they may be suffering from symptoms of a bipolar disorder or personality disorder, you will have questions about your condition and a doctor is the best person to answer these. You owe it to yourself to gain as much information about the condition. Make the best of each visit to the doctor. Be a good listener, and also be proactive in enquiring about the diagnosis, prognosis, medication to be used, and effectiveness of different therapies.
You may find asking a close friend or family member along to accompany you may add an extra pair of ears create a more positive environment that helps keep manic depression at bay, or indeed any other ailments, such as anxiety, as bay.
Your interaction with the doctor, of which your questions play an important role, is an opportunity for the physician to learn more about you, your family, routine, likes, dislikes, and many other things that have to be factored in when planning a treatment routine for you.
On your part, you should ensure that you have questions to ask. Research on your condition, or what you think your condition may be, this will inform you, answer your questions, and most likely raise some questions that you should write down for asking your doctor, but keep an open mind for the appointment. It is possible that your doctor may refer you to a psychotherapist for resolution of certain questions that you may have.
Maintain a diary to chronicle your progress between appointments with the doctor. This will provide the doctor with data that he can use in conjunction with his own assessment of your condition and prescribe changes in medication, if required.
During your initial visits, focus on obtaining answers to questions about the type of bipolar disorder, personality disorder, or other ailment that you may, or indeed may not have, its severity, and get a good understanding about the condition. Learn about the most effective treatment methods available. Ask about the condition’s progress with age. Under what conditions is hospitalised care an alternative? Find out about the steps you should take if you need immediate care.
Answers to these questions will prepare you to deal with the condition, improve your social interactions and also the quality of your life.
Questions about drugs that you will be prescribed include information on the role of drugs and their necessity. Ask how mood stabilisers and anticonvulsants could help you with managing mood swings and why these may or may not be suitable in your particular circumstances. Educate yourself on the frequency of taking medication and its importance with respect to your condition. Ask about the side effects and signs that the drug is working. Do remember to find out about the effects of not taking drugs as prescribed and self-medicating. Do some reading about the active components of the drug. Check about the chances of abuse with a given drug. Some drugs may proscribe consumption of certain foods; find out if this is the case with the medication you are prescribed. Check if the drugs can be safely consumed with conditions such as hypertension, tachycardia, diabetes, etc.
Ask your doctor about alternative treatment options that can possibly be used alongside medication. Is your doctor in favour of taking supplements such as fish oil, St. John’s wort, etc?
Your doctor is the best resource for guidance and tips on how to maintain emotional stability, which is crucial for physical health and managing relationships. Manic episodes and depression can both be dealt with much more effectively when you are emotionally grounded and are mentally prepared to take steps that will keep you away from events that can trigger bipolar disorder.
Ask your doctor if seeking help from a therapist is a good idea. Check if there are any support groups in your area. Understand how a psychologist can help you and how his expertise is different from that of a psychiatrist. Find out how cognitive behaviour therapy differs from social rhythm therapy. Get informed on how to benefit from the help of near and dear ones and steps to take when you feel discriminated against.