Doctors Diagnosing Mental Health Issues- Part 3

* The following is a true story but all names and identifying information has been changed to protect confidentiality.

            Elaine was seeing a specialist for a medical problem. During her visit with the specialist he asked her about her stress level. She thought this was wonderful that her doctor was taking such a holistic approach to her health as he reported that stress can have a negative impact on her condition. She answered him honestly though and reported that she did not feel stressed. He looked at her as though he did not believe her and asked her if she had children. She reported yes, she has 3 boys. As he grabbed his prescription pad he replied to Elaine that she had to be stressed if she had 3 children and scribbled out a prescription for a psychotropic medication.

            Elaine was puzzled by this prescription and chose not to fill it. She soon wrote off the whole experience. It wasn’t until Elaine told me about her experience that she began to understand what had really happened that day. Although it is unethical for doctors to receive gifts or kickbacks from drug companies for prescribing a certain medication, they often do. In reality, Elaine was not overly stressed and her stress level was not going to interfere with her medical condition. Although in some cases doctors do really take a holistic approach to medicine, this doctor was only looking for a reason to prescribe her a medication that he most likely would be receiving a kickback for since he chose to prescribe it even though she reported not needing it.

            If you find that your doctor seems to be pushing a certain medication, this may be the reason. It is important for you to use your common sense in these situations to try to determine if the doctor has your best interests in mind. What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to you? Be aware of the possibility that your doctor may misdiagnosis or push medications so you do not blindly follow their recommendations. It is important for you to ask questions and be involved in the decision making process. Always ask for a referral to a specialist for the problem that your doctor is diagnosing to verify the diagnosis and for additional treatment. I do not want to give the impression that all doctors misdiagnosis or push prescriptions, but only that this is a possibility. In some cases, you may go to the doctor for a regular check-up or for a specific issue and your doctor may become aware of an unrelated mental health issue that is correct. It is always important to receive follow-up care.

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