This month I will be transitioning to a new psychiatrist for the medication management of my bipolar disorder. I had been with my former doctor since December of 2014, so a little over 2 years. The reason I am switching is my former doctor no longer accepts my insurance. You may have experienced this too at some point in your treatment – a doctor no longer accepting your particular insurance. It’s frustrating to have to change doctors because of insurance changes. It feels like starting over. Sometimes it may be necessary to get a second opinion or change doctors for other reasons when treating your bipolar disorder. Here are some helpful tips when starting with a new doctor for the treatment of your bipolar disorder or any other mental health condition:
Advocate for yourself.
You know yourself best, so speak up. Don’t be silent in your treatment. Just because a person is a medical doctor does not mean he or she knows you or your body or mind the way you do. You are your own best voice when it comes to stating how medications affect your physical body and mind. Don’t be afraid to be assertive and firm, while being respectful.
If a medications scares you, hasn’t worked for you in the past, or you are concerned about possible side effects, tell your doctor. Be honest about your concerns, reservations, and about medications or treatments that have worked for you or are working for you right now. Don’t feel ashamed or that you have to hide symptoms of your mental health conditions or bipolar disorder, or how different medications or treatments affect you.
- Write out a list of questions or concerns you have for your doctor in advance.
Having a list helps me remember to address all the different issues or questions I have with my doctor. Have a written list of your current medications and dosages. Have a list of previous medications or treatments and how they affected you. Write out your story if it’s the first time meeting your doctor, so you can include important events, places, people, and symptoms of your bipolar story. Most of the time, doctors will ask about your mental health history at your first visit. Having that written out takes some of the anxiety away from having to remember all of it, and for having to share it again with a new person.
Inform the doctor of your needs and who your support team is.
Let the doctor know who is important in your care, who can help you during your treatment, and who is part of your support team. Share phone numbers or addresses or other ways to communicate with members of your support team. Sign releases of information to and from your support people if you think it is necessary for your doctor to be able to communicate with them about your care.
Let your doctor know you take your own mental health care seriously. Let your doctor know you want to be involved in your own treatment and be a part of your support team. Ask questions, write things down, listen carefully and critically. Show up to scheduled appointments on time, or if you need to cancel and reschedule, do so in the appropriate time frame. Come to your appointments prepared.
- Ask questions. This is your time.
You have the right to ask your doctor questions about his or her procedures, treatments, and medication options. Ask questions about particular medications offered to you and their possible side effects. Ask questions about other treatment options, or what you should do in a crisis or medical emergency. Ask questions, and write down the answers.
Remember you have a choice.
You have the right to choose your own doctor. You are the patient and can choose to go to a different doctor if something isn’t working and cannot be resolved. Sometimes insurance or location is a major factor in choosing a doctor; however, you should never stay with a doctor who does not respect you, involve you in your own health care process, or listen to you. This doesn’t mean the doctor will always agree with you or do things the way you want, but they should always listen carefully to your experiences, feelings and emotions, and your symptoms. You can call your insurance provider or community mental health clinics or resources for lists of psychiatrists or doctors in your area and in your insurance network. Research their practices online. Read reviews if they are available. Trust your instincts. If your gut is telling you to find a new doctor, trust yourself.
Starting with a new doctor or starting over with a doctor for your bipolar or mental health treatment can produce a lot of stress and anxiety. But following the tips above can help minimize that stress and anxiety. Do what works for you. Trust yourself. Advocate for your mental health care.
via bpHope – bp Magazine Community