Working With Your Doctor

Primary care physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and specially trained nurses may all be involved in a bipolar disorder treatment plan. Finding a doctor or therapist you trust may make it easier to follow your treatment plan. Working with your doctor can help you find a treatment plan that is appropriate for you.

An open, trusting relationship with your doctor can be key

working with a psychiatrist

With a complex illness like bipolar disorder, it’s important to have a good relationship with your doctor. You will need treatment over the course of your lifetime. How successful your treatment is will depend in part on how good the information you and your doctor share is and how closely you follow your doctor’s recommendations. Be open, honest, and thorough in all your conversations with your doctor—about symptoms, concerns, any changes since your last visit, and your overall well-being.

Finding a doctor or therapist you can trust

Getting treatment for bipolar disorder is not a one-time effort. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, meaning that people with the disorder need to take medication and visit with their doctors routinely their entire lives. Below are some questions that may help you decide on the right doctor or other health care professional for you.

  • Do you feel comfortable when you are with this person?
  • Do you respect this person’s knowledge?
  • Do you trust this person’s judgment?
  • Do you believe this person will do his or her best to help you get well?
  • Does this person seem to listen to your concerns?
  • Does this person try to answer your questions in a way you understand?
  • Is the office staff helpful when you make an appointment, ask a question, or need to contact your health care professional?

Finding a health care professional you trust, and who makes you feel comfortable, may make following your treatment plan easier.

Be an informed patient

Being an informed patient may help you on your way to managing bipolar disorder. Learn from your doctor about what you can do to help your treatment work. By working together, you can develop a treatment plan that is appropriate for you. Here are some ideas.

  • Show up for all medical appointments and be on time
  • Do your best to follow your doctor’s advice—this may include things like taking medicine as prescribed, getting regular sleep, and keeping a Mood and Goal Tracking Diary  (PDF)
  • Be honest about things that are bothering you
  • Let your doctor know if you notice mood changes or changes in your symptoms
  • Tell your doctor if you stop or would like to stop taking a prescribed medicine
  • Ask questions
  • Several types of health care professionals treat people with bipolar disorder. Get information about different types of health care professionals.