Let me clear up a couple of myths regarding asking your doctor questions. Some people are too afraid and feel intimidated to ask a doctor a question. The truth is that we want you to ask questions! At least I do…But seriously, I think most doctors do too. Let’s talk about why you need to ask your doctor questions. The next blog will give you 4 tips to be more effective at getting your questions answered during the doctors appointment. You need to ask doctors questions so you can understand and take charge of your health!
Make sure to complete my important health challenge at the end of this post. Test your knowledge about your health and make sure you are informed!
Why ask doctors questions?
We are a team!
We are a team working together and you are a valuable and essential member of that team. You must understand your health to actively participate in the team! I need you to make informed decisions that are right FOR YOU!
If you ask your doctor questions, you have more of a chance to understand everything you can about your health and wellness. The more you comprehend, the more likely you are to follow through with treatment.
If you understand fully why I am giving you a particular medication and what I am trying to treat, there is a better chance you will take that medication and hopefully get better.
If you don’t understand why I am making certain recommendations, and you don’t ask for clarification, how likely are you to follow all the directions?
Let me give you an example:
If I go to physical therapy and they tell me to do XYZ exercises 3 times each day but they don’t explain to me WHY I need to do these exercises and HOW they will help me (or they explain it but I don’t understand them) than I am not likely to be as dedicated to doing my rehab.
The truth is: I don’t want to do these exercises. They are boring and I don’t have the time. If I can’t visualize how they will help me then I might slack off after a few days (let’s be honest… it’s not might… I will definitely slack off).
“The doctor said to take them, so I take them.”
Sometimes people take medications because of blind trust in their doctor. They don’t understand why the medications are being given to them but they take them.
But often, people don’t want to:
- Take medication!
- Or do mantras (see my post on mantras to treat depression to learn how they can help).
- Or exercise when they are depressed (see this post for tips on how to get this done and WHY it’s important. Exercise works!!).
- Or any number of the self-care things I recommend…
And if they don’t understand why they are doing it then how often will it get done?
Be informed. Ask your doctor questions!
How can you help yourself if you don’t know what’s going on?
In the ER, or at an initial appointment, I ask about medications. MANY people have no idea why their medications are being prescribed and how the medication is supposed to help.
How can you take charge of your health if you don’t ask your doctor questions and make sure you understand? Usually, there are things we can modify in our environment (diet, exercise, sleep, self-care, etc..) that will assist in our recovery. It’s important to make yourself informed so you can take charge of your self-care!
Who is your #1 advocate?
YOU need to be the #1 advocate for your own health and you need all the information to make informed decisions!
Sometimes people feel intimidated to ask their doctor questions. They worry asking questions may seem disrespectful or that you are questioning the doctor’s judgment. No, you just want to understand what is going on!
I love when patients ask questions because that means that they want to be involved in their treatment! They care and desire to feel better. I want to partner with you in your care- not be a dictator telling you what you have to do.
I want you to:
- understand as much as possible about your health,
- why something may be happening,
- what it means,
- and what our plan is to make it better.
It can be intimidating when you want to ask questions but you know your doctor is rushed. Even though I am a physician myself, I feel pressure to be quick and not hold up the doctor with my questions. I know how stressful it is to run late and I don’t want to contribute to messing up their schedule.
Side point: 2 Reasons for the rush
- Doctors are often pressured to see too many patients in a day (this is another topic in itself. There are SO many reasons why doctor’s schedules get squeezed and overscheduled. It isn’t pleasant for the doctor or the patients!)
- Insurance companies will only pay for short visits. The time allotted is often inadequate to address a patient’s needs (Ok, this is another topic too. You may not want to get me started on this one!).
In the next post, I will discuss 4 tips on how to get your questions answered in the doctors appointment. These tips will help you deal better with an appointment that is rushed and increase the chance for you to get the information about your health that you need.
Here is my challenge to you:
- If you are on medication, go through each medicine and write down what it is for. What is it helping you with?
- If you have a medical diagnosis: Write down what it is, how it affects you, and what the plan is to treat it (or manage it).
After you complete this exercise you should have a good sense of how well you understand your health. If you identify areas that you are unclear about bring these questions to your next doctors appointment!
Let me know how well you did on the challenge! Did any of your answers (or lack of answers) surprise you? Did you identify questions you need to ask your doctor?
Read 4 tips to help you get your medical questions answered before your next appointment to be better prepared!
Do you have a mental health question you have always wanted to ask?
Let me know your burning questions! What mental health topics do you want more information about? I cannot give direct medical advice to anyone who isn’t my patient but I am happy to answer general mental health questions! The more information you have, the more you can be in charge of your mental well-being.
If you are looking for self-help resources here are my BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS for mental health topics.