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We all know it can be hard to admit that we’re not perfect. Who wants to admit they have weird spots or excessive hair growth? Despite how uncomfortable and embarrassing it may seem, it is incredibly important to talk to your doctor about symptoms, especially if they relate to your mental health. For example, if you are feeling depressed or a bit anxious, you may choose to take care of yourself without seeing a doctor. But what if you hear voices speaking to you, even when you are home alone? Maybe you see strange things that no one else can see? If this happens to you, you may have a serious mental illness, like schizophrenia. So ask your doctor what he thinks about your experiences and symptoms.
If talking to your doctor makes your palms sweat and hands shake, try not to worry. He’s not the bogeyman. Think of him as your Yoda instead. He’s there to help and guide you.
But if you’ve already made it past that stage and you are in treatment or about to start, here are some prudent questions to ask your doc:
• side effects of medications
• signs of a relapse
• how to prevent your symptoms from returning
• non-medication treatment options like individual counseling or support
• how long you will need treatment
• whether you can work or live alone again.
If you have schizophrenia, the better that you can understand your illness (or the illness of your relative), the better you can work towards recovery. You should feel free to ask questions of all health professionals. However sometimes it can be difficult to know what to ask, or how to ask it. Listed below are some example questions which you could raise. You might want to take this list with you, or create your own list and take that instead. Often health professionals can only offer patients a short consultation, and it also helps to have a list with you if you think you might feel pressured because of this.
- Why have you prescribed this particular medication for me?
- Why are you changing my medication?
- How will this drug help me?
- Why have you set the dosage at this level?
- What are the most common side effects of this treatment?
- Are there any side effects from long-term use?
- Who should I talk to if I think I am having side effects?
- What are the risks of this drug?
- Would a different drug be less likely to make me tired/cause tremors/increase my weight/etc?
- How does this drug interact with smoking/alcohol/the contraceptive pill/etc?
- In choosing this treatment, have you taken my family history into account (eg. diabetes, etc?)
- When will there be a decision as to whether this is the best treatment for me?
- How often will you be reviewing my medication?
- How often will you measure the effects of medication on my physical health?
- Will you refer me to a psychologist/arrange a course of talking therapy/etc?
- Why are you prescribing more than one antipsychotic for me?
- Are there any financial considerations which affect what you can prescribe?
- Is this medication addictive?
- Can I stop taking this medication if I don't like it?
- Do you have an information leaflet I can take with me?
- What kind of therapy do you offer and what is it trying to achieve?
- How long do sessions last?
- How often are they held?
- How many sessions am I likely to need?
- How long before I should expect to feel some benefit from therapy?
- Can I contact you between sessions if I need to?
- What training have you had and how many years have you been practising?
- Do you belong to a professional organization?
- Have you had previous experience of working with people with schizophrenia?
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have schizophrenia, some things to ask include:
- What are symptoms of this disease?
- Can schizophrenia be treated or cured?
- Will schizophrenia go away on its own?
- What causes schizophrenia?
- Could I have prevented this disease?
- Will other people in my family get this disease?
- How is schizophrenia diagnosed?
- Who will be treating my symptoms of schizophrenia?
- Will I have to take medicines to treat my schizophrenia?
- If I do not want to take medicines, are there any other treatments available?
- What are some common side effects of the medicine, or medicines, I will be taking?
- What are the serious side effects I should be aware of before starting the medicines?
- Is it possible that my symptoms could be due to another disease or condition?
- How do I live with this disease?
- What resources are there to help me (and my family) cope with having schizophrenia?
Being prepared with questions to ask your doctor about your disorder can help you get the information you need to know. And because one way to prevent symptoms of the disorder is to closely monitor your condition, taking the steps to ask your doctor about your condition can help you reduce symptoms.
- Ask your doctor about what is causing your disorder. If you have been diagnosed as having schizophrenia, ask if there is anything else that might be causing the disorder.
- Ask about how to control symptoms. Discuss medications and lifestyle choices with your doctor.
- Ask your doctor how your family members can help you deal with the disorder.
- Finally, ask your doctor for further information about schizophrenia that you can keep to learn more about your condition.
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.