How can I get the best treatment for my mood disorder?

Mood disorders are best treated with a multidisciplinary team including a doctor, therapist and family/friends. The doctor can diagnose the mood disorder, recommend behavioral modifications and start medications, if warranted. A therapist is key in helping a person learn coping skills to function better. Family and friends are extremely important to support the everyday decisions and actions of the person with a mood disorder. At times, a psychiatrist, who is a specialist in mood disorders, is needed to assist in diagnosis and treatment.
Become the expert in your own care, a partner with your doctor. This proactive approach helps you feel empowered and hopeful, reducing confusion and frustration. You can turn to books, healthcare providers and reliable internet sites (usually those affiliated with major universities or reliable non-profit organizations) to get basic information, cutting edge news and even different opinions. Having a notebook with pocket dividers and lined paper can help you organize articles and information under different topics.

Communicate accurately with your healthcare providers. You should have a place where you write down your questions. Know that doctors these days are accustomed to patients asking hard questions and even taking notes during examinations. Further, it's growing more common these days for patients to bring another person with them—a friend or a family member—who can serve as an "extra pair of ears." The days when doctors were considered second only to God are over. They're now used to challenges and questions from patients, so if you think your care could be better, don't be shy about expressing yourself. Try to be as specific as possible about your issues—stick to the facts—and avoid becoming too aggressive. A doctor on the defense may be distracted from the medical issues at hand. If you've aired your grievances and nothing improves, know that your insurance plan or your state benefits most likely include several other clinics. Getting a second opinion is a common practice now.

Knowing what you want to achieve in your treatment before you embark on a treatment plan will help you measure that plan's effectiveness. First, you need to be aware of the typical results so you can form reasonable expectations. You can get this information from your healthcare providers or from the internet. Once you establish your goals, track your progress. This exercise will not only help you determine how effective your treatment is, it will confirm your hope for a different future.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.