Facebook Pixel
EmpowHER Guest

How should I approach my doctor about my mental health?

By Anonymous July 20, 2009 - 1:04pm
Rate This

I don't have health insurance, and I make too much to qualify for any assistance, so I am reluctant to go to the doctor other than for my yearly exam.

Last year I mentioned to my doctor that I had been having mood swings that I have a hard time getting over. It was so hard to talk to her about it that I broke into tears in her office. Her advice was to exercise more, especially in the mornings, and it would boost my mood. If that didn't help, I should go back in.

I actually exercised 5-6 times a week for 3 months. It didn't help, and a schedule change got me out of the habit. Now I don't exercise on a regular basis. My mood swings are even worse now, and I haven't gone back in to see my doctor.

That time of year is coming back up again, and I'm nervous about talking to my doctor about the mood swings. I'm afraid she'll tell me I didn't exercise enough, or admonish me for not exercising right now. I really want to exercise too, I want to be active again, but by time I get the chance to do something, the mood has struck me again and I can't get the motivation to go out.

I know there's something wrong with me. I'm not the same person anymore. I used to be outgoing and optimistic, now I'm withdrawn and irritable. Friends I used to see every week, I now go months between visits. I no longer feel like I have friends that I can confide in.

How do I approach my doctor about this? Should I just hope that she reads my notes from last year and asks? Should I find a different doctor? My stepfather was recently diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and suggested I get tested, should I ask my doctor to test me?

Add a Comment1 Comments

HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question and welcome to Empowher - we're glad to have you here!

Firstly - no, don't hope your doctor looks at her notes from a year ago and approaches you regarding your mental health. It may never happen. Not all doctors are vigilant about reading patient notes before they enter the waiting room. Unfortunately, it's almost always up to the patient to advovate for themselves - you'll need to speak up.

More than likely, you'll have a medical assistant first - make sure you tell her that you need to talk to the doctor about your mental health.

We cannot diagnose you, of course, but you may well be suffering from depression and need some real help.

Your doctor is correct - physical exercise is a great tool to help with mood disorders or depression but it is not a cure-all. It should be used in conjunction with other therapies.

I think you should write out a list of your symptoms or even a print out of what you wrote here and hand it to your doctor.

The problem with depression is being unable to motivate oneself into action. Like your exercise - you know you should do it, but your moods and lack of support prevent you from doing it. This is normal and is certainly not your fault. If your doctor admonishes you for not exercising and believes that's the answer to your long-standing problems then she may not be the doctor for you. If people who suffered from what you are suffering from could just "up and at 'em!" then no-one would ever be depressed. "Cures" don't work like that.

Also, if you have paperwork on your visit, make sure you fill out the section that asks if there is any particular reason for your visit. Don't just write "annual visit" or again, your problems will get lost in a sea of "routine" checkups. What you are going through is not "routine" and you need specific help.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a free clinic who can help you, or to refer you to a hospital conducting studies or trials. You may get help for free and will be compensated for your travel and other costs.

Please don't let this get swept under the carpet. I know it's a bit nerve-wracking, especially when a busy doctor comes rushing in the door. I've been there and it's not a good feeling. But you need to do this - you don't deserve to go through this, untreated and unsupported.

Even if you don't hand your doctor all your symptoms, at least write them all down and bring them with you to your visit! Trust me, if you're nervous you'll forget half of what you meant to say. I've actually written things down and took out the sheet of paper when the doctor came in and she was really grateful I did. It clarified things for her too.

Regarding your thyroid - absolutely get it checked out. Thyroid problems are very much linked to depression. Ask for a blood draw and have it checked.

Will you do this and update us on your appointment? You deserve proper care and treatment. I'll look out for your news.

July 22, 2009 - 12:22pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment

All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.