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Talking to Your Doctor About Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with post-traumatic stress disorder. 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.

Specific Questions to Ask Your doctor

About Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Talk to your doctor about the traumatic event and your feelings. Describe any scary memories, depression, trouble sleeping, or anger. Let them know if these problems keep you from doing everyday things and living your life.
In addition, you may want to ask the following questions:
  • Could I possibly have some other illness?
  • Can I have a physical exam to be sure?
  • Have you helped people with PTSD?
  • If not, can you refer me to a doctor or counselor who has experience treating PTSD?
About Treatment Options
  • What treatment options are available to me?
  • If you are prescribed medicine:
    • How long will it take to work?
    • What are the benefits
    • What are the side effects?
  • If you decide to try counseling, interview counselors and find one with whom you feel comfortable discussing your problems. Questions to ask the counselor include:
    • What is your training and experience in treating PTSD?
    • What is your basic approach to treatment?
    • How long will treatment last?
    • What is the length and frequency of treatment sessions?
    • Which health insurance do you accept?
    • Do you have fee schedules and sliding scale fees to accommodate various financial circumstances?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • What lifestyle changes, if any, can help reduce my symptoms? For example:
    • Diet
    • Relaxation and stress management techniques
    • Exercise
    • Limit use of alcohol and drugs
About Outlook
  • What are my chances of recovery from PTSD?
  • What is the likelihood of recurrence of PTSD and/or related conditions? What can I do about it?
  • Can you recommend a support group for me?

References

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

Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. Available at: http://www.adaa.org.

Revision Information

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