Do You Feel Safe with Your Doctor?

September 17, 2014 Mike Ehrmantrout

It's important to feel safe with your doctor or psychiatrist. If you don't feel safe with you're doctor, you need to say goodbye sooner--not later. Here's why.

If you are a person with mental illness, it is important that you feel safe with your doctor or psychiatrist. Your relationship with your doctor is one of the most important relationships in your life. This person will hear some of the most intimate details of your life. They will help you decide what medications to take, at what dosage, to help you. Arguably, they will know you as well as your significant other does. Your doctor will have the power to hospitalize you against your will if they determine you to be a danger to yourself or others. So, do you feel safe with your doctor?

If You Don't Feel Safe with Your Doctor, You Should Bail

I should say up front, doctors have a very challenging job, especially mental health doctors, with the complexities of mental disorders and other behavioral issues. I believe the vast majority of them are competent and empathetic. I have great respect for those who are.

However, I believe if you are uncomfortable in this important relationship and can’t or don’t feel safe with your doctor, you should bail, sooner rather than later. I understand the need to work and cooperate with your doctor, which can take time. But in most cases, a doctor’s bedside manner isn’t likely to get better, and the one suffering the consequences is you.

What Can Happen If You Don't Feel Safe with Your Doctor

If you don't feel safe with the doctor, one who doesn’t understand you or one you're afraid to talk to, there will be trouble getting the right treatment. Doctors that you feel don't care or don't understand can waste time (and money) taking you down a path you don’t want or need to go down. You don’t have time to waste. You need help now.

If the doctor doesn’t seem to listen to you, and you stick with them anyway, you run the risk of taking medicine you don’t need or not taking medicine you do need. Mostly, the only thing a doctor has to go on is what you tell them. If they obviously do not listen to you, they will be at a great disadvantage in determining an effective treatment plan.

Emotional Damage May Occur If You Can't Feel Safe With Your Doctor

By far, the most dangerous consequence of staying with a doctor you’re not comfortable with is the damage that can be done to you emotionally. For example, there are doctors who are antipsychiatry who don’t “believe” in mental illness. Because of this, many don’t “believe” in using psychotropic medication, since in their view, the illness those medications treat doesn’t exist.

Now just imagine the damage that could be done to a vulnerable person with a mental illness were they to visit a doctor like that. The most emotionally damaging situation could be the minimization of their suffering. After all, if the doctor doesn’t believe they're sick, then their pain is just in their imagination. There's nothing to treat.

Most mentally ill people would say that validation of their mental illness and symptoms is very important to them, especially since mental illness is largely an invisible illness, meaning you cannot readily see most of the symptoms or their effect on the sufferer.

Not Feeling Safe with Your Doctor Is Different From Feeling Angry

One of the factors that can arise is the doctor sometimes has to tell you things you don’t want to hear, even sometimes causing you to feel angry. I don’t think this is a good reason to ditch your doctor. We absolutely need our doctors to be free to tell us things we don’t want to hear.

However, most patients are able to recognize the difference between the candid observations of a good doctor and a doctor that is minimizing or denying their illness, or simply not listening to them.

Bottom line: You need help. You deserve the best help you can find. You deserve to have a doctor who understands you, validates you, and is competent to treat you. You don’t deserve to be undermined, not listened to, or intimidated. If your doctor can't help you feel safe, listen to your inner guide and say goodbye.

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APA Reference
Ehrmantrout, M. (2014, September 17). Do You Feel Safe with Your Doctor?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Mike Ehrmantrout

vivian bumgarner
October, 8 2014 at 2:16 pm

Sorry I took up so much of your space. I just want someone to believe and take me seriously before I die and the longer I live the less reasons I can come up with to do so.

vivian bumgarner
October, 8 2014 at 2:10 pm

I had a Dr who got angry with me because I did not want to be readmitted to the hospital about a week from being discharged from a month 'stay. I have an eating disorder which the only thing he did was make me drink ensure 3 times a day. Then instead of admitting to the medical unit while I was already there he waited until I got back home to won't me to be tube feed and then transferred to another hospital Not only did I not want to go back in to the hospital I could not afford2 additional hospital stays . When I told him I would start eating if did not commit me he said he did not believe me. When I saw him the next week I had gained a few pounds. When I went into his office I knew something was wrong .Instead of greeting me at the door he barely said hello. When I went into his office and he asked me a couple of questions than began looking on his computer without saying anything to me. I told him I had gained some wait it he barely said that is good and kept tying away. When he finished that he began writing a letter,still not speaking to me. When he finished the letter he said he would be back and when he returned he gave me a letter stating is was not going to see me anymore. He had found the names and numbers of doctors on the computer so I could choose who I wanted to see but he did not check to see if they accepted my insurance or whether they were accepting new patients, He also stated he would continue to write my prescriptions for one month from that day. Knowing that I ahd tried to kill myself in the past which was the reason he put mein the hospital The last thing he said to me was that he had no doubt whatsoever that I was going to commit suicide Then he got up and said times up, goodbye and good luck and left me in his office. I tried to contact him to try and get some sort of explanation why he was doing this but he would not return my call or that of my husband. I even wrote him a letter and he never did respond. I was only able to get him to write one prescription for me.Two weeks later my therapist who was in his office did the same thing. I called to schedule an appointment and she immediately told me she was no longer going to see me almost word fro word like the Dr. had. No explanation and hung up. My attempts to reach her failed as well. She didn't return my call and then her staff gave me the message she could not talk to me anymore because I was no longer her patient. Only on Dr on the list took my insurance. After talking with me he told me he would not see me but would write my prescription and have them mailed to my home. I did not deserve to be treated that way .It happened in March and I have not had anyone to talk with because either the doctors we have here are either not taking new patients or my insurance. His decision not to see me happened too quickly to be justified. A doctor who for whatever the reason they will not be seeing a patient any longer has to tell them in and advance to not only be able to find a dr. so that the treatment will not be disrupted he is supposed to continue providing care the patient until arrangements can be made for the patient can resume treatment immediately with the new doctor. He is also supposed to assist in the process f finding a suitable physician. He did none of this things and neither did my therapist. I filed a complaint but because I am mentally ill the people that I have spoken with say he did not do anything wrong. The problem is I was upset because things didn't go the way I wanted them too. Nor do they believe that he did the tings I said he did. They don't realize the damage he has done. The only reason I have not killed myself is because it would make him that he was right about his prediction. I barely function any more and no one wants to help me and it is all his fault. I will believe until my dying day he did this because he was angry that I did not go into the hospital liked he wanted me too. The way he acted that day was completely opposite from the way he always had been, The tone of his voice when he did speak to me, the expression on his face and just his whole demeanor was proof to me that is reasons for not seeing were not what he said they were. I also believe that he was responsible as well as for my therapist refusing to see me .I tried my best to convince everyone I have spoken to that is treatment of me was not only unprofessional but some of the things he said to me were entirely in appropriate. Our state medical board averages 1200 complaints against doctors each year and only on percent have any action taken against them and the most common action is they are sent information which will hopefully help them treat their patients better. I was told that doctors have the right to do. say or treat a patient anyway they want too. After all they are the closest to being God than any one else on earth. Well I just happen to know one who is closer to the devil. I doubt that at least in my lifetime person with Mental Illness will not be treated any differently than they are now.

October, 7 2014 at 2:23 pm

I only saw him twice and he was already wanting to do shock treatments, scared the living daylights out of me. Told me to look it up on the internet. Well, why not explain it himself, what a scary situation...

September, 23 2014 at 4:41 am

within the first few minutes of my initial appointment with a new psychiatrist she wheeled her chair so close to me our knees were nearly touching. I instantly dissociated and the next memory I have is walking out of her office 2 hours later. I could not return. I requested notes from the appointment and she complied but added her patients need to be somewhat independent to participate in treatment. I always participate in treatment with my doctors. I felt insulted and frustrated that she had no understanding of trauma or dissociation. We mutually terminated.

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