Mental Health: Questions for Your Doctor

Find out as much as you can about your condition and what to expect during treatment and recovery. Use these questions for your doctor as a guide.

If you are seeing your doctor about a mental health condition, you may feel overwhelmed and even embarrassed. Don't be. Mental disorders are common and widespread. The National Mental Health Association estimates that 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in any given year. Some of the most common are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.

With proper care and treatment many people learn to cope or recover from a mental or emotional disorder. To increase the chance that treatment works, patients and their families should actively participate in their treatment. This means understanding your condition, taking an active role in your care and recovery, and asking questions. Remember, there is no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to your health.

The answer to some of your questions may help you and your doctor choose the treatment that is best for you. Talk to your doctor, and learn as much as you can about your condition and its treatments.

Take this list of questions with you the next time you go to see your doctor, and write down the answers for future reference.

Questions about your diagnosis

  • What is my diagnosis? Can you explain it in simple language that I can understand?
  • What are the possible causes of my condition?
  • What is the prescribed treatment? What are the benefits and risks?
  • Is this the most successful treatment available? Are there other treatments available?
  • How soon should treatment start? How long will it last?
  • What are my options if this treatment fails?
  • Do I need a follow-up visit?

Questions about your medication

  • What is the name of the medication, and what is it supposed to do?
  • What are the chances of getting better with this treatment?
  • How will I know if the medicine is working or not working?
  • How and when do I take it, and when do I stop taking it?
  • How long will I have to take the medicine?
  • Can I take this medication if I am planning on having a baby soon?
  • What foods, other medications or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  • Can I have beer, wine or other alcoholic drinks?
  • Will this medication affect my sleep, ability to drive or operate equipment, sex life, appetite, etc.?
  • How will the medication interact with other medication I am already taking?
  • What are the side effects, and what should I do if they occur?
  • Will side effects change as I continue to take the medication?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Is there any written information available about the medication?



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