family practice issues and general life events

Posts tagged ‘depression’

Is there anybody out there?

There is an ever increasing number of patients that I see, that are feeling all alone.  A little crazy, sad, depressed, etc.  And I wonder if it is a recent phenomenon or if I have just been unobservant, and it has been there all along.  Or if it might be due to more patients being comfortable enough to open up about it.

Or if it might be our ever increasing need to broadcast every part of our lives.  The need to post countless pictures and status updates on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, checking in on FourSquare, is it a need to be seen or is it maybe a sign of a need to know that someone cares.  Maybe it is a way to connect, and yet the connection can often feel empty in itself.

There is no one who needs to know what you ate for lunch, and yet I would venture most of us have posted pictures of a meal or two.  (I am just as guilty.)  And not all thoughts are gems.  And something posted carelessly can come back at you in the end.  But maybe the problem isn’t social media, maybe it is merely allowing us to see what many of us keep hidden just beneath the surface.

The danger in this is that we become immune to posts that appear to be attention seeking.  The person who posts “I just want it all to end.” may not be taken seriously when they are at their lowest.  And yet, I am sure many of us have seen these posts.  But if that is your way to connect with others, it is probably not going to save your life, because if someone were to decide that you were serious, there is the potential delay between the time posted and the time they try to find the appropriate authority for help.

And then there is the thought that many are posting just for attention.  Of course you want attention, but is that the healthiest way to get it.  From strangers and acquaintances?  Does it mean something if they don’t really have a personal connection with you?

There is something to be said about true human contact.  I know telemedicine is supposed to be the wave of the future, a way to get specialists into communities that would not otherwise happen.  And maybe it will work eventually, but living in a community where the psychiatrist is a “Doc in a Box” does not appear to be overly satisfactory to patients.  There is something to be said about human contact to help with healing patients.  I cannot tell you how many patients ask me to take over their psychiatric needs because they don’t care for their “Doc in a box.”  They don’t like talking to the box.  Something always seems to be missing in those relationships.

Human contact is under-rated in this rapidly changing environment of social media and electronic medical records.  While I think EHRs are a good thing, the biggest complaint patients have when their physicians change is that “they are no longer talking to me, but they are looking at their computers.”

As humans there is a need to know that someone cares, that someone is out there.  Unfortunately we are teaching the next generation not to go outside and play, but to make connections online.  And how much can you truly know about someone that you cannot see, and have never met.  There is much to be learned from facial expressions, from posture, from touch.  These cannot be duplicated from a machine, and a “there, there” on a computer screen is a poor substitute for a pat on the shoulder.


The Power of Positive Thinking

I know it is cliche, but there really is something to thinking positively.  That point hit me in the face yesterday- though in reality I notice it most days.  People who dwell on the bad, tend to appear to have more chronic problems, while those that say life is good, seem to be healthier.  Or at least they seem to deal with even chronic illness better.  That is not to say that everyone is not entitled to having bad days, but if every day is “the worst day of your life”  well people are not going to want to be around you.  And that will include those that have to, family, physicians, etc.


I have patients, that literally spend their entire visits complaining about every aspect of their lives.  That is fine, it is my job to at least listen.  But those visits are exhausting, and if it is an every visit event, after a while, I will start to dread their visits.  Sorry but I am human.  This is not just someone who complains about their aches and pains, but their sons and daughters, who have moved away, and everything in life is against them.  That is how they view the world.  That it is against them, and that they don’t have this or that.  They focus on the don’t haves.  How exhausting it must be to go through life focusing on what you don’t have.


The other side at least attempts to find some good.  It may not always be easy- trust me once you tell a patient about their cancer, nothing else that visit matters.  But usually if they are a generally positive person they will undergo treatment a little easier.


Looking through the internet, trying to find out what is wrong with you, while their may be some legitimate cause to do so, focusing on diagnosis that you may or may not have, not only hurts your emotional well being, but it also will eventually hurt you physically.  Not to sound like a pharmaceutical commercial but depression does hurt.  Usually leads people to the doctor for pain, not depression.  Rarely does anyone come in and say “I’m depressed.”  Sometimes a spouse will drag them in saying that they are depressed, but usually the presenting complaint is “I’m tired.” “I hurt” “I have no interest in anything, anymore.”  It is true that pain can lead to depression, but it is also true that depression can lead to pain.


Life needs to be something to savior, to experience, not something to dread.  If you aren’t happy where you are in life, figure out what you should do to fix it.  No one will do it for you.  While I hesitate to tell anyone to leave their job today, remember that if you are looking for a new path in life, it is you who must sell yourself.  Anyone hiring for jobs that require customer service, don’t want to hire the negative person with all the qualifications.  Though if you do hate your job, find something outside of it that is your calling that gives you joy.  There is not a pill for happiness, it has to come from within.  Find out what it takes to be the best you that you can be.  It doesn’t have to take much, baby steps will go a long way.  And see if with time you start feeling better, start having better health.  While it will not take care of everything, having a positive outlook will go a long way towards better health and prosperity.

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