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How Depression Damaged My Relationship with My Doctor

November 5, 2019 Miranda Card

Depression damaged my relationship with my doctor because I learned I couldn't trust her. Just last year, I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune illness called Behcet's disease, but I've had it my whole life. Prior to diagnosis, my doctors treated my symptoms with heavy-duty steroids. It worked. The treatment wiped me clean of mouth ulcers, abdominal pain, migraines, knee swelling, and internal bleeding. It was like magic.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to enjoy my unusually functional body because of an unignorable side effect. The steroids sent me into a depression so severe that on several occasions I considered suicide. It took me time to realize what was causing my change in mood. I'm not a depressive person. When I realized my depression came with my bouts of treatment, I brought it up to my doctor. She explained that, yes, depression was a side effect. Now, I have developed a fear of medication and often find myself second-guessing my medical team.

My Relationship with My Primary Care Doctor Was Ruined

When my primary care doctor confirmed that depression was a side effect of my medication, my relationship with that doctor was irrevocably damaged. I couldn't believe she didn't warn me about the possibility prior to treatment. If I had been warned, I would have understood that my depression was not indicative of a newfound mental illness, but a result of the medication for the disease I already had. This, I felt, would have made the experience more bearable and less frightening. I would have known it was a temporary state. Plus, I felt it was my right as the patient to weigh the pros and cons of the medication and decide on a course of action. This loss of agency fundamentally changed my relationship with my doctor. I decided to see someone new. 

I Have Also Developed Distrust for Pharmaceutical Medication

My first experience with medication planted a deep-rooted distrust in pharmaceutical medication. I've rarely felt so irrational. As my new team of doctors prescribes new medications, trying their best to find a treatment that will work for me, I listen and second guess them. I put off filling the prescription. I spend hours on the Internet reading about the possible side effects of everything I'm given. Most recently, I stopped taking my immunosuppressants when I got a seasonal cold, convinced that it was because of my drugs and that this would begin a slew of common ailments. I understand that this is silly, that my disease is more concerning than a cold, but my relationship to my pills has become nonsensical. It's a stick-with-the-devil-you-know type of mindset.

My Relationship with My Doctor and the Severity of Mental Illness

My doctor's flippant approach to handling the mental health side effects of my drug taught me two things: mental illness symptoms were not treated with the same respect as physical symptoms; unlike my chronic illness, I was expected to just "get over" my depression. I also learned I'm crazy to feel that the mental symptoms were as painful as many of my physical ones. Today, I'm doing my best to unlearn these things. I hired a therapist to help me cope with the mental symptoms of chronic illness. I endeavor to think of my mental symptoms with as much compassion as I use with my physical symptoms. I tell myself my perception of my symptoms is valid, despite what others might assume about my experience. But the biggest thing I've had to work on is restoring my relationship with my doctors. Doctors and medication are unmovable pieces of my life, much like my illness, so I am doing my best to change my narrative.  

How is your relationship with your doctors? Have you experienced trust issues with them or not? Share your comments below.

APA Reference
Card, M. (2019, November 5). How Depression Damaged My Relationship with My Doctor , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, October 27 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/relationshipsandmentalillness/2019/11/how-depression-damaged-my-relationship-with-my-doctor



Author: Miranda Card

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Collen
February, 22 2020 at 4:38 pm

I have been living with depression and anxiety all my life. My doctor of 19 years told me it was all in my head. He told me to "pray to God, God is good." a few days later he wrote my employer saying that there was no reason why i couldn't work. This was done without my permission or my knowledge. A week later he sent me a letter saying he would no longer be my doctor as i refused to follow his medical advice. He kept my husband and children in his practise lol. I was off work, suicidal, and now without a doctor. I feel even deeper. Unethical medical behaviour. Nothing i could do. Thank goodness for a female doctor whose closed practice accepted me and then my family.

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