In my last few posts, I have talked quite a bit about my problems with psychiatrists. ( See here, here, and here.) My intention is not to slam psychiatry in general. It is more of a process of defining my boundaries as to what I would consider a healthy and productive relationship with my doctor.
I have had some exceptional doctors, so I want to share that with all of you too.
I had a doctor spend forty-five minutes on my first visit to go over my chart and get to know me.
I had a psychiatrist who actually did a bit of therapy with me. Since most psychiatrists only prescribe meds it was nice to have someone who would listen to me. I also asked if he knew anything about using fish oil for depression and he admitted to me that he didn’t know anything about it but he copied an article in a medical journal for me. I really appreciate a doctor who doesn’t act like he knows everything and is willing to learn.
My favorite doctor was someone I knew from my work with Mental Health America. He worked in a different office but he would come over to our social center and answer peoples’ questions about their medications. He wasn’t even getting paid for this!
What I consider exceptional about this man was his caring attitude and complete transparency. He made no secret about the fact that he had struggled with depression himself and he genuinely wanted to help others.
Even after he left Mental Health America, Dr. Chris (he never stood on formality) would still come around periodically to share his story with others and encourage people in their own recovery.
When he switched jobs he went over to the county mental health facility which is where I get my psychiatric services. After having a disagreement with my doctor there I decided to switch to Dr. Chris. He always listened to me and seemed to be happy with my input. Unfortunately for me, after a while he left for greener pastures.
I would say that the main characteristics of all these psychiatrists is that they genuinely cared about their patients and they were willing to listen. They also had enough humility to acknowledge that they didn’t know everything.
I know that there are many uncaring doctors in every discipline and they probably are just in it for the money. However I feel that psychiatrists should be held to a higher standard, in the same way that a minister should be held to a higher standard. Why? Because they are not just dealing with medical problems, they are dealing with matters of the heart and soul.
Hopefully I have brought up some ideas that can stimulate people to look at what they want from their doctors. Keep in mind though that no doctor is perfect and what it really comes down to is whether you think that you are getting your needs met in this relationship. If not, then you might want to look for another psychiatrist.
- Um, Doctor, I Know Myself Better Than You Do (bipolarlessons.com)
- DSM-IV: Depression Defined (everydayhealth.com)
- Completely controllable? The truth about the bipolar controllability myth (purplepersuasion.wordpress.com)