During new patient evaluations, psychiatrists generally have a standard set of questions that are asked to help formulate a diagnosis based on diagnostic criteria and to develop a treatment plan. Every psychiatrist has their own style, but I’ve always been interested in asking patients more open-ended questions if I think it will provide me with a greater understanding of who they are as unique individuals. Unfortunately, I believe that the art of psychiatry has dwindled down to a checklist which subsequently churns out a diagnosis and treatment plan based on the minimum criteria needed to properly meet billing requirements. Such a practice may lead to a lack of connection in the therapeutic relationship, therefore, I sought to create a series that explores the unspoken thoughts that a person may have when meeting with a psychiatrist. If you would like to contribute to future questions in this series, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on Snapchat (freudandfashion).
QUESTION OF THE WEEK:
What do you wish you could tell your doctors when they makes changes to your meds that you don’t agree with?
I have definitely been through this experience! I WANT to say that increasing the dose scares me as the side effects I’ve experienced were horrible. I also feel that some (not all) psychiatrists barely ask you any questions about your research on medications. I feel that they don’t want to believe that you are actually capable of being educated on the topic.
Ever heard the word ‘advocate?’ Did you get your degree for the high status and income, or are you sincere about helping those of us trapped in this system? Why not take a stand against the big pharmacy industry and be true to your patient and what is best for him or her?
Well, to be honest, I don’t think it would be something to say but more to feel. For example, for me, as the side effects were horrible, and as I wasn’t feeling better, she kept upping my dosage. I wish she would have FELT my side effects. I described it as best I can, but I’m not sure all docs felt brain zaps. I wish doctors would listen more to how we feel instead of maybe just push various pills and dosage on us. Those are pills for our brain, it’s nothing to joke about. I’m sure it affects us all differently. But I wished they’d be more open to the fact that for some of us, medications (or SSRIs and such) just aren’t doing any good.
Natalie, Teacher (Twitter: @natricher)
What I absolutely love and appreciate about my psychiatrist is that he lets me choose what I’m comfortable with taking. I don’t know if other patients are like this, but I know my diagnoses and I do research on different meds. I haven’t found anything that’s working greatly yet since I do have a lot of different disorders, but knowing that my doctor validates what I’m comfortable with doing makes me feel that much better.
For example, I really dislike the weight gain side effect that a lot of medications for bipolar disorder have. I suffered major self-esteem issues in middle school because I put on 50 lbs from lithium and depakote combo. He knows how hard I worked to get that weight off and feel better about myself, so we only talk about combinations that will make me feel comfortable taking…so that I actually take my medicine.
I wish they would have taken the time to explain (simply) what the medication will be doing to my body/brain and why it’s more efficient than what I was previously taking.
I honestly would tell the doctor my concerns. I wouldn’t be rude, but I would openly say that I have concerns over it. My hopes would be that it could open up a two-way conversation regarding my care and I could find out what they have to say (and have them see where I’m coming from).
Tom V, 1st year Medical Student
I wish I could’ve sat down with her and said clearly: “I’m sorry I called you two times today freaking out, but this medicine you gave me just isn’t working right–it’s making me worse. I’ve never taken any meds before and I’m running scared here and I need someone to understand me and sit with me and talk about my options. I know we didn’t meet under ideal circumstances and you don’t know me or I don’t know you, but don’t treat me like I’m one of the people who bug you all the time. Please help me. That’s all I need is some help.”
But, I now have someone who I think is amazing and he talks to me about options and is more of a collaborative force in my health care. He is in charge of my meds, but he has listened to me and I’m glad to say I haven’t had to take one benzo, not one single one in over 6 months so the fact that a doctor will collaborate makes me very happy, and listens.
Photo by Marlon Santos