by EBSCO Medical Review Board

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with bipolar disorder. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can make the best choices for you and your family.

Here are some tips that will make it simpler for you to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write down your questions so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for help, if needed.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.
  • What can I do to keep these symptoms from getting in the way of my relationships, work, and home life?
  • What treatments are right for me?
  • What medicines might help me and how long will they take to work?
  • What side effects can I expect from my medicines and what can I do about them?
  • Do you treat people with bipolar disorder?
  • If not, can you give me the names of providers who help people with this?

You may decide to try counseling. Ask counselors, social workers, psychologists, and/or family therapists questions about whether they work with people who have bipolar disorder. Make sure that you feel at ease with the mental health providers. You may want to ask:

  • What training and experience do you have in treating bipolar disorder?
  • How can you help my family members and friends cope?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long will I need to be treated?
  • How long are the sessions and how often will I have them?
  • What health insurance do you take?
  • Do you offer sliding scale fees?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes that can help me manage bipolar disorder?
  • What resources are available that could help me:
    • Eat better
    • Work out regularly
    • Find social support
    • Manage stress
    • Sleep and keep a daily routine
  • What are my chances of managing bipolar disorder?
  • How can I stop symptoms from coming back?
  • What will happen if I don't take my medicine?


Bipolar disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated September 9, 2019. Accessed October 10, 2019.

Bipolar disorder in adults. National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: Updated October 2018. Accessed October 10, 2019.

Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed October 10, 2019.

Yatham LN, Kennedy SH, et al. Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) 2018 guidelines for the management of patients with bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disord. 2018 Mar;20(2):97-170.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD
  • Review Date: 09/2019