The Shrink’s Links: Advance Psychiatric Directives

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You know what an advance directive is, right? Advance Directives are the legal documents that enable you to state your preferences regarding medical care beforehand and empower someone to make decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself. They’ll come in handy when you’re in a coma and don’t want to be hooked up to a machine for years. The psychiatric version of an advance directive can also come in handy if you are sometimes hospitalized for mental illness and want to be treated in a certain way.

Let’s just say there’s a hospital you prefer, a medication you can’t tolerate, a doctor who should be involved, or a procedure that should be avoided. You can document this on your psychiatric advance directive. Unless you say so, the hospital will not tell your loved ones where you are, involve them in your care, or even allow them to visit. You might be OK with experimental studies or drug trials, but no one would know it if you didn’t say so in advance. You might want to make provisions for your children or see to it your plants get watered or your cat fed. If you have someone in your life who just drives you nuts, you may not want them around when you’re in the hospital. An advance directive can see to it that they will not visit.

Anyone who has bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or is prone to being suicidal should prepare an advance psychiatric directive sometime when they are feeling well. I know, you don’t ever want to go to the hospital again, but it’s worthwhile to be ready in case it happens again.

Click here to get the forms you need.