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Talking to Your Doctor About Schizophrenia

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with schizophrenia. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know about your health.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Schizophrenia
  • What type of schizophrenia do I have?
  • How serious is my condition?
  • Can you tell me about the course of this illness? What can I expect?
  • Will I be able to marry and have children?
  • Will I be able to hold a job?
  • Where can I get more information about schizophrenia?
About Your Risk of Developing Complications
  • Am I at risk for developing any complications such as:
    • Depression
    • Suicide
    • Substance abuse
    • Other
About Treatment Options
  • What treatment options are available for schizophrenia?
    • What medicines can help me?
    • How long will they take to work?
    • What benefits can I expect?
    • What side effects can I expect?
    • How can I manage these side effects?
  • Have you treated other people with schizophrenia? If not, do you know of another doctor who does?
  • Do you know where I can find:
    • A treatment group
    • Support groups
    • Family interventions for people with schizophrenia
    • Vocational training
    • Other psychosocial interventions
Interview therapists who treat people with schizophrenia. Ask the following questions:
  • How much training and experience do you have treating schizophrenia?
  • What is your basic approach to treatment?
  • How long do I need treatment?
  • How long and how frequent are the treatment sessions?
  • What type of health insurance is accepted?
  • Do you have special fee schedules and/or sliding scale fees to accommodate various financial circumstances?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • Do I need to make changes in my:
    • Daily routine
    • Diet
    • Activity
  • How can I take the best care of myself?
About Outlook
  • What are my chances of recovery?
  • What can I do to prevent a relapse?

References

Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2004.

National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at: http://www.nimh.nih.gov.

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