National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Getting the most out of your prescription visits:

Reading the discussion groups this week, we see a lot of issues around getting the most out of visits with your M.D or other prescribing health care professional. Here are a few tips for working effectively with your prescriber:

1/ Be completely honest.

Your treating psychiatrist or other prescribing health care professional needs you to be honest about what you are experiencing. He or she can’t treat what they don’t know about, and untreated symptoms are at least as uncomfortable as side effects. You don’t have to be an expert on your condition to be honest with your prescriber, you simply need to be willing to be candid about your condition: what you feel and think; how you act; what sensory experiences you are having and your physical health concerns, including side effects to medications already being prescribed.

2/ Make an agenda.

It helps to organize the visit a lot if you make an agenda for your meeting with your psychiatrist or other prescribing health care professional. Make a written list of the items you wish to discuss in advance, and bring it with you to your visit. Use it to frame your meeting with your provider around those issues you find most important. A written list can help you to remember not only the major concerns you have between visits, but the subtler things that also come up that it would be nice to explore.

3/ Ask and answer questions.

Use your agenda to ask questions of your psychiatrist or other prescribing health care professional. Your M.D. can be a valuable source of information: don’t hesitate to ask her or him the questions that you have about your condition or treatment for your condition. Treatment should ideally be a dialogue. This means that, in addition to asking questions, you should be prepared to answer questions too. In answering questions, be completely honest. (see #1).

4/ Do research.

There is plenty of information about mental illness and treatment available on the Internet. Web sites like ours, forums and communities can offer a lot of ideas and information that may then be used to inform your agenda (see #2). So can mutual support groups and information gained from conversations with others who also live with mental illness. Don’t hesitate to do research and discuss what you have found with your doctor or other prescribing health care professional. Be certain, however, to discuss any changes with your doctor before making them.