How to Become the Best Patient, Part 1

What traits will enable you to recover more quickly with the help of medication and psychotherapy?

Being diagnosed with depression is tough – but everything will become twice as difficult if you do not exert effort in transforming yourself into an ideal patient.

Psychiatrists and GPs can only do so much to help a depressed individual get back on his/her feet again. Much of the work that needs to be done is located on your side of the fence. Your doctors will provide guidance and prescriptions, but the work needed to fully recover is entirely up to you.

Success begins by becoming a good patient. Admittedly, there are many ‘bad patients’ who don’t follow the basic guidelines for maintaining stability within the doctor-patient dynamic. Don’t be such a patient, because when all is said and done, it’s you who will either enjoy or suffer the consequences of your decisions and actions.

Follow these simple guidelines to become the best patient your psychiatrist has ever had:

  1. Full compliance is a must. When your psychiatrist prescribes new medication or suggests a new form of psychotherapy, it’s your job to fully comply with what is being suggested for your treatment.

You mustn’t second-guess your psychiatrist and you certainly should not base any of your decisions or actions on what other people say or worse, what people are posting on the Internet. Reading stuff of the Internet should never be viewed as the equivalent of getting sound, professional advice from a psychiatrist.

You may encounter very persuasive text on the Web advising people to simply “quit their meds” because of so-called “side effects.” The people who write these materials will not help you if something goes wrong when you follow their advice and they will certainly wash their hands of any/all liabilities.

Your psychiatrist places his/her name, reputation and medical license on the line whenever he/she prescribes something to you. So from a logical point of view, which one should you listen to?

  1. Be considerate with other people’s time. If you’re scheduled to consult with your doctor on Monday, at 1 p.m., don’t arrive two hours late with a vague excuse and an apology.

You’re not getting a haircut – you’re trying to save yourself from further damage caused by depression. No matter how hard it may be, get yourself dressed and ready so you can meet with your psychotherapist early or on time. Don’t wait for your psychotherapist to remind you arrive on time for your appointments.

We know that this can be a huge sacrifice on your part since you are emotionally and mentally drained from having to deal with a mental condition that affects every aspect of your personality. However, do keep in mind that the last thing that you need is a psychotherapist who thinks that you’re not serious about your recovery.

  1. Arrive with a clear and action-centered mind. When you visit your psychotherapist, make it a point to be as attentive as possible to what he/she is telling you. Don’t let your mood disorder get the best of you during actual therapy. Be honest with what you feel but at the same time, ‘struggle’ against the mood disorder so you can accomplish your goals in psychotherapy.

Drinking alcohol or using any illicit drugs should be avoided completely before attending psychotherapy. Actually, strike these things off your “to do” list because these substances can worsen the chemical imbalances that are already plaguing your mind.

  1. Stay focused & avoid distractions. When you’re scheduled to attend therapy, be sure to block off sufficient time for it. Fix your schedule so your therapy doesn’t coincide with other important activities.

Before therapy begins, turn off all your electronic gadgets so that you are not distracted by messages and calls. Psychotherapy doesn’t last the whole day so it doesn’t make sense to interrupt your own therapy session just to accept calls or text messages.

  1. Treat your therapist as a professional. Psychotherapists are friendly, but they are not really there to become your friend during therapy. Maintain the crucial distinction between a friendly therapist and a “real world” friend. Your therapist will have an easier time helping you if you respected his/her knowledge and decisions regarding your mood disorder.

If you are unable to find your footing during therapy, relate your difficulties to your psychotherapist and he/she will create suitable solutions. Don’t try to “laugh it off” – if something is bothering you, your psychotherapist should know.