I can't count the number of times I've debated between calling my doctor and waiting it out. We argue that the doctor can't help, that we just need time to adjust to medication or that it's a waste of time. Here are five times when you should be calling your doctor.
1) You are a danger to yourself or others.
If you are feeling suicidal, or if your mood swings make you feel violent you may need a change in medication (or the start of medication), an increase in psychotherapy or other help.
2) You've changed medication and are still experiencing harsh side effects.
Side effects occur with almost every medication. Most side effects should disappear after a few months. Read the literature that comes with your medication, and contact your doctor if symptoms appear after the average time listed.
3) Your core symptoms turn for the worse.
Maybe your bipolar presents in a typical pattern – you have set triggers and an inclination for depression or mania. If you suddenly find yourself manic or depressed for longer than usual, it may be time to speak to the doctor and see if other medications or environmental factors are affecting your bipolar disorder. Be aware of the major and minor symptoms of bipolar disorder so you can monitor your own progress.
4) You've stopped taking or want to stop taking medication.
Perhaps you've decided you want to just use psychotherapy, or maybe you are just tired of the medication side effects. Your doctor should be informed that you want to discontinue – they can help you to taper off so your body doesn't go through withdrawal, and they can also monitor your relapse if one occurs.
5) Your treatment has stopped working.
Medication, psychotherapy, coping techniques etc., if you find they are no longer working, or are no longer effective it is time to reconnect with your doctor to look for new solutions.
No matter what is going on, you should never be afraid to call your doctor and ask- it might surprise you how they can help.