When My Doctor Was Too Uncomfortable to Talk About My Depression


Yesterday, I went to the doctor. I was feeling miserable for a few weeks. Runny nose, hacking cough, stuffy ears and random chills. I put my things on the chair and lifted myself onto the bed covered with wrinkly paper. No matter how old I am, I always feel little when I sit up there. I’m back to the space in my head where I’m nervous about saying or doing something weird on that strange little pedestal.

I play with the paper next to my thighs and wait for the doctor. He walks in the room after a quick knock and holds out his hand to introduce himself.

“Hi I’m Doctor ______.  I understand you aren’t feeling well!”

I tell him I have two things I need to talk about. My atrocious cold and my depression. He says OK and jumps straight into asking about my cold symptoms. He feels my throat and checks my lungs, my ears and nose.

He asks how long it’s been going on and if it started in my sinuses or in my chest. He asks if I am taking any cold medicine currently and if I have tried anything like extra vitamin C. I answer all of his questions and he says, “Great, I’ll get you a prescription for antibiotics. Make sure to take two the first day and one after that just like the box says. I’ll also give you a prescription for a cough syrup to let you sleep through the night. And finally a prescription for Celexa.”

I was confused. He had just spent five minutes checking me out for a common cold and is prescribing me an antidepressant. I asked him if I should take the whole dosage right away because I read that I should start slow. He told me to do what I think is best.

“If you’re sensitive to medications, then you can start with half. I’m going to go wash my hands and call these in. What’s your preferred pharmacy?”

Half of me is grateful. There was no embarrassment when talking about my depression and admitting after two years off medication that I need to be on it again. There was no feeling of weakness. It was great.

The other half of me is indignant. This man just spent the entire appointment asking me questions about something that will pass. I was glad he was thorough with my cold symptoms, but I was shocked that in 10 minutes he handed me a prescription for an antidepressant without any direction or warning of side-effects.

No asking about how long I’ve lived with depression. No asking about why I’ve come to this decision. No warning that this may not work, but there are many options and we can keep trying.

I understand depression is a difficult subject. I understand it makes people uncomfortable. I do not understand how my doctor can be one of these people.

Image via Thinkstock.


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