It's important to be prepared before discussing symptoms of bipolar disorder with your doctor. Here are some steps you should take before meeting with your health care provider:

  • Don't try to remember symptoms—write them down. Include any behavior that may not seem relevant to what you know about bipolar disorder. Let your doctor decide if it's relevant.
  • Make a list of recent changes or stresses in your life.
  • Write down any medications—prescription or over-the-counter (OTC), including vitamins, daily aspirin, or other supplements.
  • If possible, bring a family member or friends with you to your appointment. They may remember events that you've forgotten or may have noticed behavior that you hadn't thought of as unusual.

Here are questions to ask your doctor:

  • Could there be other causes for my symptoms?
  • What's the difference between bipolar I and bipolar II? And which do you think I have?
  • Are there tests I will need to take?
  • What treatments are available and which would you recommend for me?
  • What are the side effects of the recommended treatment?
  • What happens if I forget to take my medications?
  • Are there alternatives to the recommended treatment?
  • I have other medical conditions. How does bipolar or the medication affect them?
  • Why do I need both medication and psychotherapy?
  • What should I do if I have a manic episode?
  • Are there support groups or other resources you can recommend?
  • What's the next step if mood stabilizer doesn't help?
  • Who should I contact in the event of an emergency?

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 19 May 2014

Last Modified: 19 May 2014