Is common sense really in that short supply?

Shelly writes in with the following disturbing comment: 

Thank you for intelligent, medical, heartfelt, honest mental health information. Information I can really use and makes sense, a lot of common sense.  The most successful of all of my treatment for bi-polar has been a result of applying recommended coping skills, eating good and healthy food, getting outside, be around pleasant people and nurture my spiritual self. Rise above the confusion, realize I didn’t have a corner on the market for hard knocks and utilize a good sense of humor.

I was and still am from time to time, discouraged by the lack of common sense by the very people we seek out for mental medical treatment. I seriously believe that had I not taken an aggressive interest in my treatment that I would be in the mental hospital. Luckily I realized I could choose my doctor and luckily I found an amazing and intelligent individual. Thank God! He explained to me that the “diagnosis” was not as important as the treatment. He really did treat the patient, not the diagnosis. He was receptive to what I had to say, what medications I was interesting in trying because members of my family took it. He trusted me to keep good track of the results. He was so wonderful about telling me that although I had some symptoms of bi polar (I sought out my own treatment) that he was suspicious that if I was really in the bi polar … whatever. The meds work so I take them. He is so wonderful.

What is so disturbing about that?

That it is so hard to find a doctor that exercises common sense when approaching mental health issues.  Many of my patients express frustration about the difficulty they have finding a “regular” doc that exercises common sense when addressing medical health issues, too.  Docs that go into psychiatry are a special breed, however, and I hear ALL THE TIME from my patients that it is hard to find  a shrink that is good.  Most times, people settle for what they get, as long as they don’t feel like there is any harm being done. 

What I would encourage all of you to do is to be proactive in your relationship with your doctors (all of them).  If you feel like the doc is not getting it when you explain something to them, tell them that you do not feel like they are hearing you. Be clear and concise in your descriptions of your symptoms.  Docs don’t always have the answers, but they should be able to come up with some ideas. More often than not, your sense that the doc’s are not listening is really the doc being overwhelmed, tired and strapped for time.  If you stump them (as I have been stumped in the past) then it is time for a second opinion.  Not a big deal. I recommend that you go back and read my June 2nd blarticle about getting through to your doctor.  Still useful!

–Dan Hartman, MD

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