Posted on December 9, 2009, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.
In a recent article, the eminent doctor and author Sherwin Nuland writes about the deficiencies of modern medicine in which the doctor treats the disease but not the patient who is suffering from the illness. Being ill is a lonely and scary condition and, of all illnesses, depression must surely be one of the loneliest and scariest. A good doctor should be a source of comfort to you in your illness and in the recovery process. You would do well to invest the time and energy in finding a doctor who is not only technically competent but is also able to play this critical role.
Choosing a Doctor
I can’t emphasize enough how important is the choice of a doctor. I am often astonished by how some highly discriminating people, who are careful in the selection of their barber or hairdresser and will go to great lengths to buy the right car at the right price, will take pot luck with whatever doctor is in their neighbourhood. I always like to go to doctors recommended to me by other doctors, figuring that if you’re in the trade yourself, you know the wheat from the chaff.
Credentials are of some value in choosing a good doctor, but sometimes doctors trained at the best places can also be conceited and closed to new ideas. In seeking a doctor, find someone who is clever, up-to-date, sympathetic, open-minded and not too impressed with his or her own opinions. Find someone who will take the time to listen to you and really hear what you are saying. Finally, keep an eye on your doctor. Even the best doctors are only human, can make mistakes and don’t always think of all the possibilities. Even if you are in treatment with a good doctor, you still have some responsibility to use your wits to be sure that you get the best possible care.
Extricating Yourself from an Unsuitable Doctor
A good doctor should not only keep up with the literature but also be open to learning new things. Ignorance is human and often forgivable; it is, after all, a treatable condition. Closed-mindedness, however, is hard to treat and if your doctor is not open to new information, that is a real problem since medicine is constantly changing and new diagnostic and treatment approaches are regularly being developed. It can also be very distressing to end up with a doctor who, rightly or wrongly, reflexively dismisses your point of view, as illustrated by the following cautionary tale.