Everyone deserves to have open, trusting relationships with health care providers. You should never feel intimidated by your doctor or feel as if you’re wasting his or her time. It’s also important that you share all the information your doctor needs to help you. A complete medical history, including your medication allergies, prior experiences with medication, and any alcohol or drug use, is important to your treatment. Sometimes your doctor will also ask for your family history.
You deserve to have the best treatment possible. If, after some time has passed, you feel the same way you did before treatment or worse, you have the right to ask for a second opinion from another health care professional.
Bring a list of questions with you to your doctor. Take notes so you can check them later.
Questions to Ask your Doctor
- What’s the name of my medication and how will it help me?
- What dosage(s) of medication do I need to take?
- At what time(s) of day should I take them? Do I need to take them with food?
- Do I need to avoid any specific foods, medications (cough medicines), supplements (vitamins, herbals) or activities while I am taking this medication?
- What should I do if I forget to take my medication?
- Is there a generic form of my medication available?
- Would it be right for me?
- What side effects might I have? What can I do about them?
- How can I reach you in an emergency?
- How long it will take for me to feel better?
- What type of improvement should I expect?
- Are there any specific risks I should worry about? How can I prevent them? How can I recognize them?
- If my medication needs to be stopped for any reason, how should I do it? (Never stop taking your medication without first talking to your doctor.)
- How often will I need to come in for medication management? How long will my appointments take?
- Should I also have talk therapy? What type do you recommend? Is it possible that I could be treated with talk therapy and no medication?
- Is there anything I can do to help my treatment work better, such as changing my diet, physical activity, sleep patterns, or lifestyle?
- If my current treatment isn’t helpful, what are my alternatives? What is my next step?
- What risks do I need to consider if I want to become pregnant?
- How will other illnesses I have affect my treatment?
How can I spot my warning signs?
Each person is different and each person has different triggers or stressors that may cause their symptoms of depression or mania to get worse. A trigger might be an argument, visiting a particular place, having too much to do, or a major life event such as moving. As you learn more about your illness and your triggers, you will be able to spot new episodes and get help before they get out of control. Be sure your family and friends know how to look for signs that you might be having an episode. Use a journal, personal calendar and/or the tools below to track your moods.
My symptoms of depression/dysthymia
- Sad, empty, irritable or tearful mood most of the day nearly every day
- No interest in or pleasure from activities once enjoyed
- Major changes in appetite or body weight
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down
- Fatigue, exhaustion, lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms are different for everyone. Some people feel like sleeping all the time when they become depressed; others have trouble sleeping and stay up late feeling worried. What are your warning signs?
My symptoms of mania/hypomania
- Feeling overly energetic, high, better than good, or unusually irritiable for at least one week
- Very high self-esteem, feeling like I can do anything
- Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
- Talking more than usual, feeling pressure to keep talking
- Racing thoughts, many ideas coming all at once
- Distracted easily, thoughts or statements jumping topic-to-topic
- Increase in goal-directed activity, restlessness
- Excessive pursuit of pleasure (e.g. financial or sexual) without thought of consequences
My other symptoms
- Drinking/using substances
- Cutting or hurting myself
- Obsessions (can’t stop thinking about something or someone)
- Panic attack
- Isolating/hiding from people
- Delusions (strange or bizarre thoughts)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things)
(THOUGHTS, EMOTIONS, ACTIONS)
|WHAT CAN I DO?|
|Arguing with a loved one||I get anxious, my thoughts start to race, I feel like everything I do is wrong.||Take a deep breath, remind myself I am worthwhile. Be aware of my own attitude, discuss this stressor in therapy or support group, spend less time with this person.|
Take action as soon as you notice your warning signs. Don’t wait for an episode to become full-blown and cause a crisis. Call your doctor or therapist. Ask a close friend or family member to stay with you until you are feeling more stable.
Content Provided by Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance Website