Medicine / Psychiatry

Reach Out And Connect With Someone

{Rancho Cucamonga, California}

I’m approaching a new phase in my life by moving on to a new practice, which will be my second job out of residency.  As excited and hurried as I was to leave my first job and move on to the next, with this being the last week in clinic, I’d have to say that I’m quite sad.  I’ve had several friends tell me that they don’t get along with their coworkers, that they haven’t developed friendships with anyone on staff, that they mostly are “in and out” of clinic to see their patients and get all the documentation done while minimally interacting with their peers.  How fortunate am I to have developed a sense of family and strong teamwork with those whom I work with?

I hear that one of the drawbacks of going into private practice is a sense of isolation not having a team of professionals to bounce ideas off of or interact with on a daily basis.  However, I do know that the practice I’m joining will provide valuable experience learning what it’s like to practice psychiatry in a different clinical setting.  And even cooler is that the actions and morale of the group I’m joining have given me enough confirmation to prove that I’ve made the best choice for myself and my career.

If you notice a theme in several of my posts, it’s the concept of “family” and teamwork.  I have several patients whose stress levels and depression gets triggered or exacerbated by a sense of loneliness and isolation due to lacking the friendship, camaraderie, sense of belonging, and the support we as humans need.  Numerous studies have found that social relationships provide emotional support and contribute to stress relief and better quality of life.  The following are some examples of how social support enhances mental and physical health:

  • Addiction
    • Recovery from substance use often leads to the dissolution of former friendships that were associated with an individual’s propensity to use drugs or alcohol.  Therefore, recovery-oriented support (such as 12-step programs) are critical early in treatment as someone begins to build and develop a healthier network of support.  Higher levels of social support are linked to decrease in substance use whereas lower levels of social support prospectively predicted relapse.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    • for childhood sexual abuse survivors, a combination of self-esteem and appraisal support (an individual’s perception of being valued by others and that he or she is capable of getting advice when coping with difficulties) was useful in preventing the development of adult PTSD.
  • Cancer
    • Supportive group intervention for women with metastatic breast cancer has been associated with lower mood disturbances and less maladaptive ways of coping with terminal illness.
  •  Work Stress
    • Social support at work has been shown to have direct benefit on workers’ psychological well-being and productivity.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY:  Identifying and building your own support network can take quite some time and effort, but the enhancement on your quality of life will make it well worth it.  Which supports do you identify as being most integral in your day to day life?

21 thoughts on “Reach Out And Connect With Someone

  1. First off, congrat’s on your new work opportunity! I am a big believer in cultivating a network of relationships to keep me encouraged. I have made more of an effort as I’ve gotten older to invest in my relationship w/ my siblings and mom and dad. Secondly, I have invested intentionally in some key spiritual relationships (church related) Thirdly, believe it or not, I have a two friendships that came directly as a result of me blogging that are a source of nurture and encouragement, and finally, there is a friendship with someone that started out with them helping us with some parenting, and eventually marriage counseling, that morphed into a friendship outside of the counseling room. (all of these relationships are in addition to the soul mate God blessed me with 35 plus years ago, who continues to be my best friend. I am a rich man relationally and I know it.

    • Thanks DM, lookin fwd to where this next step in my career takes me 🙂
      As for your support system — thanks for sharing! Investing time to nurture your many relationships is a crucial part of maintaining a balanced and fulfilling life. And how wonderful that u made close friendships through blogging! i think it’s a wonderful outlet for connecting and getting to know others. i’ve been fortunate to meet others through blogging as well, and am happy to have made connections with fellow bloggers like yourself 🙂 Enjoy the weekend!

  2. I believe social support is vital, especially when you are re-integrating back into the community from an institutional life that the majority of your adult life has been in. In the institution, it seemed that even though at times the other consumers could drive you up a wall, there was a feeling of belonging just in the fact that you had each other. I can remember several times where people died in my life or others at the institution and I immediately had others holding me in their arms and listening as I wept (or vice versa).

    Now that I have been out for over three years, my main support still comes from the mental health facility I attend. I have a great bond with some of the staff who have been willing to even go as far as to let me have their cell phone numbers in case I needed something. I also have a couple of the consumers I’d call my friends. These are the ones I can either call or text.

    Finally, I have the internet and various blogs, including my own, that have helped me through some struggles as I am virtually a loner. I’ve made a friend or two here. It still doesn’t equal to the amount of support I was used to having; however, I utilize my coping skills, such as making jewelry or scrapbooking, to preoccupy my loneliness.

    A prayer that your new job brings many blessings to you and others, LaVancia

    • Hi LaVancia – thank u so much for your well wishes. I appreciate u sharing your story of re-integration back into the community. I think it will inspire others who’ve been through similar experiences as you to make efforts to rebuild, rather than isolate. I’m glad that u were able to build a network of support despite the grief u must have experienced missing the support system u once had prior to being at the institution. I’m always happy to hear the stories my patients tell me of the positive connections and long-lasting friendships they make while hospitalized or in intensive treatment.
      Jewelry and scrapbooking is a wonderful creative outlet — doing activities we enjoy, such as hobbies, is very important for living a more balanced and fulfilling life as well as nurturing the social connections we have 🙂

  3. I’ve been meaning to comment ever since this post came out!!!! At last it’s the weekend morning, & I don’t have to rush two kids frantically for an hour to get ready for school. 🙂

    I’m SO happy you’ve made this change; it really does sound like an excellent fit. It’s telling that you developed strong ties at your last job. Any clinical setting would be extremely fortunate to have you as part of the team.

    I hope that things have gotten off to a great & smooth start at your new practice!!!

    To answer your “thought of the day”, I created a “women with mood disorders” support group that has been awesome, but we only meet 1/x a month. It’s not possible for me to meet more than that – I tried doing that but it didn’t work out as it was too stressful & I haven’t found a co-facilitator yet. The support group hasn’t reached the point for much contact apart from the meetings, and so it’s not enough support, obviously. My husband is my biggest support in my day-to-day life – he works at home a lot and I’m not too isolated (I’m working @home) – plus Lucy is here. She is a huge support to me even if she’s canine! I’m also building some new female friendships, so I’ll see how that goes…

    Take care & have a FABULOUS week!!!!
    You rock!
    Dyane :))))

    • Hi Dyane! Sorry late reply…thanks for sharing & leaving a comment about your support system! Seeing pics of Lucy, how could she not be a huge support?! I’m a dog-lover as well 🙂

      And thanks so much for the well wishes on my job transition! I miss my coworkers, but am lucky I still keep in contact w/ many of them.

      Happy almost Friday and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  4. I wanted to say that I think that although you’re obviously very busy at your new practice, you obviously have a love of psychology and medicine that you can’t fill at work and I think that’s wonderful. I don’t mean to sound condescending but that’s missing in a lot of psychiatrists, in fact being a psychology student (Behavioural Science) I am guilty of actively discouraging people away from psychiatrists in favour of psychology, but only if I thought the situation warranted it. There’s method behind the madness as I’ve seen both in practice however you and your blog are going to change my mind. I look forward to reading your future posts.

    • Hi Emily! Thank you for your comment. And your comment is NOT condescending at all — in fact, i consider it a compliment!! 🙂 I believe a great psychiatrist should be knowledgeable and competent in medications AND psychotherapy. I’ve made effort to expand my knowledge in psychotherapy by taking classes even after graduating residency, so i appreciate it that you noticed based on what u read in my blog thus far 🙂 And that’s wonderful you’re a psychology student…perhaps you’ll even consider psychiatry!?

      • Thanks for the comment, even after I was indirectly rude about psychiatrists – my sincere apologies! I had a bit of a fight the day before with a friend’s psychiatrist because I feel she’s taking the easy option out with his depression as she’s given him 2 antidepressants, Diazepam AND Temazepam (2 many Benzos for my liking) and I was concerned because he has an inability to talk to her even though he’s been seeing her for 30 years (I kid you not!) It was a bit like an episode from ‘When Psychology Meets Psychiatry’ but the end result is she’s sending him to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist so that’s positive (still worried about the drugs though, but he says he’s only taking 1 at a time so there’s not much more I can do). I think medicine is absolutely fascinating, I’ve had to become my own doctor (or would that be my inner doctor?) as I’m a type 1 diabetic (28 years) and have had to pick up a lot, even sometimes more than my GP knows about it. At the very least I make myself available for as many studies as possible so that’s my way of giving back to medicine ha ha.

        • wonderful that u advocate and show great care and concern for your patients! I’m actually quite open to hearing negative comments regarding my profession because there truly are a lot of issues!

          • With psychology there are still also problems, with regulation and legal issues, and of course the ethical debate still rages on. I guess that’s true of psychiatry as well. Perils of working in social science.

  5. Hello! Thanks so much for the like, especially since it was a very short post, it’s great to get a vote of confidence in the trickiest time of the year. Take care. ~ P ~

      • Glad you see it that way.
        Well, Doc, apart from the fact that the country is going to hell in a hand basket, that I’m bored with my life and want to run away, I’m all right. (Just bitching. Why do I say that to a Doc?)
        Be good. Walk the beach for me please.

  6. Stumbled upon your blog from Kevin MD, it might have been the fact that you wrote on burnout in expressions that is so akin to, i firmly believe so many who walked through that path-the darkness before dawn.I continued reading and found Freud and Fashion, and i am glued… reminiscing days when I endlessly champion Freud in my master’s program and lengthy conversations with a loved one. Sometimes, life brings in wonderful surprises-and it’s Fashion and Freud!

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