When you go to the doctor, you are looking for help with a medical problem. What you may get is a psychiatric diagnosis and a psychiatric drug. Depression is one of the most common diagnoses made today with antidepressants the most commonly prescribed drugs. Do we really have that many depressed people or could something else be going on?

I have observed in my medical practice that many patients who come to see me have been diagnosed with depression and prescribed a psychiatric drug by their previous doctor. Too often I find that the previous doctor did not do a physical exam or any lab tests on the patient. All the doctor did was ask some questions and decide that the person had depression and prescribed the drug.

Often, the patient was not even complaining of feeling depressed. Their complaint was something entirely different, like insomnia or back pain or gastrointestinal problems.

I have read medical journal articles that actually encourage doctors to give psychiatric diagnoses. They are also encouraged to get the patient to take the prescribed psychiatric drug prescription, with detailed discussion about how to convince the patient who doesn’t want the drug, to take it anyway.

These journal articles made me wonder why there was this push to give psychiatric diagnoses and prescribe psychiatric drugs. Here’s my theory:

Psychiatric diagnoses are actually subjective. There is no objective test for any of them. Of course, if you feel depressed, you may think you have depression and think you need to take an antidepressant but that may not be the case at all.

Since psychiatric diagnoses are subjective, the doctor does not have to perform any physical exam, lab tests or allergy testing. This saves a lot of time and money for the doctor and for the insurance company. But I don’t think it is good medicine for the patient. Every person deserves a complete physical exam, appropriate lab tests, allergy testing and any other evaluation that could be pertinent for the diagnosis. Only then, should a diagnosis be made and the appropriate treatment recommended.

Where depression is concerned, there are many underlying conditions that should be evaluated, such as Hypothyroidism, hormone imbalances, nutritional deficiencies and even allergies.

Make sure when you see your doctor that s/he gives your condition the attention it deserves. Don’t settle for a psychiatric diagnosis just because the doctor gives it to you. If you are already taking a psychiatric drug, never discontinue it abruptly. Discontinuing a psychiatric drug should be done slowly and under a doctor’s supervision.


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