Have you been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Your head may be swimming with questions so here’s a list for your next doctor visit:
Q. What’s the difference between bipolar I and bipolar II and which one do I have?
Once you know which type of bipolar you have been diagnosed with you can ask more specific questions like what you can expect and what are the major warning signs that you could be developing mania or hypomania and what you should do.
Q. What treatments are available for bipolar? And what do you recommend for me?
A: Since bipolar is a life-long disease, so too must treatment. Talk to your physician about combining medications with some type of psychotherapy and what other types of treatments are available. What self-management treatments can you start right away?
Q. Why have you decided on these medications for me?
You want to be informed as to what each medication (if there are more than one) is specifically designed to treat and also you’ll want to be aware of the expected side effects. You can ask how long it usually takes for the medication to start helping you and if you’ll have to change the dosage.
Q. What are the major lifestyle risks I should be aware of?
You can talk about everything from the risk of having a glass of wine with dinner to whether exercise will help you. You may have read that chronic stress and sleep disruptions negatively affect your illness, so talk to your doctor about this so you can help mitigate any harmful symptoms right from the start.
Q. Since I have other health conditions, how can I best manage these together with bipolar disorder?
This is a common issue for many people with bipolar: having to deal with a co-existing condition, whether it is physical, like diabetes or a mood disorder like ADD. If you are already on specific medication make sure you ask about any contraindications between meds.
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