Doctors Diagnosing Mental Health Issues- Part 2

 *All names and identifying information has been changed to protect confidentiality

The following is a true story of a 20 year old that was given an incorrect mental health diagnosis of depression by her family doctor.

      Beth had been feeling tired for over a year, even after getting a full nights sleep. She alternated between believing that there was something wrong with her and thinking that her tiredness was actually quite normal but that most people deal with it by drinking excessive amounts of caffeine (which she did not drink.) She could remember a time when she never felt tired like this though, when she had so much energy that she was known for being perky and energetic. She finally went to her general practitioner who decided to run a blood test to look at her levels of vitamins such as iron and vitamin B as well as her thyroid levels to try to find a cause. When the blood test showed that all of her levels were within the normal range, the doctor suggested that she was depressed due to levels of stress and luckily only suggested increasing the amount of time she spent in leisure activities and relaxation.

      Although the doctor reported that depression in women does not always manifest itself in what is known as a typical way, this diagnosis just did not seem right to Beth. She felt happy and enjoyed her life as a busy college student. She was still interested in the things she always was, was able to function and even excel in all of her endeavors, and did not have any changes in her sleeping or eating habits. In fact, the only symptom she was experiencing was increased tiredness and this was the only symptom the doctor used to make this incorrect diagnosis. After some time Beth went to a different doctor who determined that her tiredness did stem from an actual medical problem and not from depression.

      Although the doctor did not put Beth on an antidepressant (which would not have worked) this often happens with other people. If your doctor diagnoses you with a mental health disorder, ask for a referral to a mental health professional for a second opinion before it goes into your medical record. Unfortunately, any diagnosis, whether it is correct or not, becomes part of your permanent medical record. If your doctor believes that you truly do have a mental health disorder, they should be referring you for further treatment just as they would refer you to an oncologist if there was reason to believe you might have cancer. Similarly, a mental health professional can help determine if you are experiencing a mental health disorder before you begin taking any prescribed medication.

      If you are in the Brevard County area and looking for a counselor, please feel free to contact me. You can find more information on me in the About section of this site (follow the link at the top of the page).

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