Communicating With Your Health Care Provider – What Questions to Ask
Be sure you know:
- What dosage(s) of medication should be taken, and what time(s) of day, and what to do if you forget to take your medication.
- If your medication needs to be stopped for any reason, how you should go about it. (Never stop taking your medication without first talking to your doctor.)
- Whether there is a generic form of your medication available and if it would be right for you.
- How often you will need to see your doctor and how long your appointments will take.
- How to change your dosage, if this is to be done before your next visit.
- If psychotherapy is recommended as part of your treatment, and what type.
- The possible side effects of your medication(s) and what you should do if you experience a troublesome side effect.
- If there are things you can do to improve your response to treatment such as change your diet, physical activity or sleep patterns.
- How you can reach your doctor in an emergency.
- What alternatives exist if your current medication isn’t helpful – what your next step will be.
- the risks associated with your treatment and how you can recognize problems when they occur
- The risks involved if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant or are nursing.
Play an active role in finding your treatment and managing your illness. No one knows better than you do how you are feeling and how your symptoms or the events in your life are affecting you. Never be afraid to get a second opinion if you don’t feel your treatment is working as well as it should.
Know Your Rights
As you look at treatment options, keep in mind that you have a right to expect certain things, no matter who you are, what challenges you are facing or how much money you have.
You have a right to:
- Have your records protected by confidentiality and not be released to others without your permission except when state law gives permission.
- Participate in developing your treatment plan.
- Be treated with respect and without any abuse or discrimination.
- Sensitivity to your needs and background.
- An explanation of the treatment you are receiving and why.
- Information about any treatment’s expected results and any possible side-effects that may occur.
- Express yourself.
- Report any concerns regarding services or staff to a supervisor.
- Find another professional if you aren’t satisfied with your treatment or don’t think it’s working as well as it should.
- Request a second opinion of your diagnosis or treatment.
Depression and bipolar disorder are mood disorders, real physical illnesses that affect a person’s moods, thoughts, body, energy and emotions. Both illnesses, especially bipolar disorder, tend to follow a cyclical course, meaning they have ups and downs.
Treatment for these illnesses can also have ups and downs. Wellness might not happen overnight. It is normal to wish you could feel better, faster, or to worry that you will never feel better. However, you can feel better, and you can do things to help yourself.
Relief of symptoms is only the first step in treating depression or bipolar disorder. Wellness, or recovery, is a return to a life that you care about. Recovery happens when your illness stops getting in the way of your life.
You decide what recovery means to you. Talk to your health care provider (HCP) about what you need to reach this recovery. Your HCP can provide the treatment(s) and/or medication(s) that work best for you. Along the way, you have a right to ask questions about the treatments you are getting and choose the treatments you want. It can also be helpful to work with a therapist, family member, or fellow support group participant to help define your recovery. Your definition may change at different times in your life.
Treatments that work can help you:
- Reach your goals (for example, by helping reduce symptoms such as fear or disinterest)
- Build on the strengths you do have and the things you can do
- Plan your care based on your needs
- Live your life without the interference of symptoms