Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging to say the least and many people mistakenly believe that there isn’t a quality treatment for this condition. However, a good bipolar disorder psychiatrist can help, and successful treatment is possible. However, before you contact a bipolar disorder psychiatrist, read the following facts.
1. Bipolar Disorder Is Treatable
Most of my patients have tried various treatments for bipolar disorder with limited success, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a treatment that can work for you. Too often, doctors use a one-size-fits-all approach to treating bipolar disorder, but what works with one person might not work with another.
A good bipolar disorder psychiatrist dives deep to understand the whole person. For instance, our patient might have additional mental health disorders or physical issues that also need to be addressed. A psychiatrist is both a mental health professional and a medical doctor and we have a unique ability to study each patient from both a mental and physical perspective. In order for bipolar disorder treatment to be successful, we also need to address any other co-occurring disorders or medical issues.
2. Take Some Notes
Before you contact a bipolar disorder psychiatrist, it can be helpful to take some notes about how you feel each day. These notes should include your moods, what you ate or drank, what medications you took and your sleep patterns. It’s often difficult during that initial consultation to remember all of the details about your life, so writing it all down can help your bipolar psychiatrist come up with the best diagnosis and the best treatment options.
It also is smart to continue this notetaking after we begin treatment. Write down your moods, any side effects from medication, how you slept, comments about your appetite, etc. This can help us gauge how the medication is working and if we need to adjust the dose or perhaps try a different type of medication.
3. Patients Need To Have Patience
So often, I find that a patient will try out a new medication or perhaps cognitive behavioral therapy for a week or two, and then when they don’t see instant results, they become frustrated and stop the treatments.
Medication can be an excellent tool to help patients control symptoms of bipolar disorder, but these medications do not work overnight. It takes several weeks, sometimes even a few months, to discover the ideal medication and the ideal dosage of that medication. I know that you are frustrated living with bipolar disorder, but if we are to find a truly effective treatment plan, it’s important to be as patient as possible while we work with medication and other types of treatment.
It's important to understand that it takes time for the medication to work, and these medications do sometimes have unpleasant side effects. Usually, the side effects will dissipate after a few weeks, but it’s important to understand that some side effects are normal (albeit unpleasant), and others are more serious. We will discuss all of this in-depth when we talk about your treatment options.
4. Research Is Important
There are many bipolar disorder psychiatrists out there, but, as you probably have discovered yourself, they aren’t all a perfect match for you. Before you contact a psychiatrist and make an appointment, learn a bit about them to decide if they are a good fit for your needs and personality.
Most of us have websites that discuss our philosophy and how we treat patients. From my perspective, the initial consultation is crucial and if a psychiatrist only spends 30 minutes with you and just writes you a prescription, this is a red flag.
Typically, my consultations involve several sessions where we dive deep to explore all of your symptoms as well as talking about your physical health. In some cases, we might want to consult with your personal physician and complete bloodwork and other tests to ensure that we find treatment plans that address all of your issues.
Multiple consultation sessions also are necessary to ensure that we reach the correct diagnosis. There are a few different types of bipolar disorder, and these require different treatment plans. Additionally, you may have a disorder other than bipolar disorder, or you might have co-occurring disorders.
It can be tricky to find the best psychiatrist to fit your needs, but I recommend that if you feel uncomfortable with a doctor and you don’t feel as though your doctor is truly listening to you and doing all they can to address your issues, find another psychiatrist.
5. You Don’t Need To Find A “Psychiatrist Near Me”
Many people will do an internet search for a “psychiatrist near me,” when they begin looking for a doctor, however with telepsychiatry, you can find a great psychiatrist without ever even leaving your home. Telepsychiatry makes it easier than ever to find a bipolar disorder psychiatrist that fits your needs. A virtual psychiatrist visit can be just as impactful as an in-person appointment.
Obviously, telepsychiatry became necessary during the pandemic, but many patients prefer this option to a face-to-face meeting. It is often more comfortable and comforting to stay in your home for our sessions and it saves you the time and hassle and stress of driving to a doctor’s office. Additionally, if you need to be out of town, we can still meet from just about anywhere on the planet with internet access.
For telepsychiatry sessions, an online psychiatrist uses a HIPAA-compliant secure video conferencing platform to protect your privacy and we can handle many general psychiatric services via telepsychiatry. This includes assessment, diagnosis and medication management.
I love telepsychiatry because it provides flexibility for my clients in the Los Angeles area (driving in LA traffic can be stressful, to say the least), but it also allows me to expand my services to just about anywhere in the country. Whether you need a psychiatrist in San Diego or a psychiatrist in Charlotte, NC, with telemedicine, I can help. Telepsychiatry also is a huge help for patients that live in rural or remote areas as driving to a doctor could take several hours.
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the past and just never found the treatments to be successful or you suspect that you have bipolar disorder and need help, I highly recommend that you contact a bipolar disorder psychiatrist as soon as possible. With proper treatment, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be reduced and managed.
I understand how frightening, exhausting and frustrating it can be to deal with bipolar disorder, but with patience and perseverance, this disease can be managed. As a bipolar disorder psychiatrist, I can provide you with a solid diagnosis and treatment plan that can help you live a better, happier and more fulfilling life. Give me a call today and we can set up an appointment in person or online.
Dr Jesalva is a psychiatrist. He is in private practice in Thousand Oaks, CA since 1989. He successfully treats very challenging patients with varying co-occurring disorders with medications.