Here’s More Evidence That Depression Affects The Entire Body
Here’s another item that has been sitting in my draft pile for an eon. Even though it’s kinda old news, I still find it interesting and wanted to share it with you. There are a few comments that I want to make about the article.
Here’s yet another friendly, scientific reminder that mental health conditions are not within your control.
I call bull shit. We can control and effect our mental health. The research on treatments demonstrates this. Even this article comments upon how much improved things got after treatment. And this being the opening line chafes me more. Let’s start our discussion of the promise of treatment and the validation of physical symptoms with a slam in the face about how hopeless your situation is. Bleh.
I’m sure that they meant that we have no control over getting depression, but I still call bull shit. Research on resilience is strongly suggestive that there are in fact things that we can do to keep ourselves mentally strong and prevent ourselves from getting mental illness. While there is a lot of research out there demonstrating a genetic link for mental illness, there is far more research showing that we can effect our mental health by the way we live and take care of (or fail to care for) our bodies.
Despite these links, another recent study published in the journal Health Affairs found that doctors follow up with patients with depression the least when compared to individuals with other conditions like diabetes or asthma.
This reality makes me angry. Some how, mental health is not as important as physical health. Despite all the research that demonstrates the connection between the two, health care providers still fail to address mental health issues. I agree that stigma plays a role in this, but I don’t think that’s the only factor. I think that part of this is that many health providers don’t know what to do for their patients when it comes to mental health. A primary doctor is a generalist and they don’t get a lot of education in the field of mental health. Why schedule a follow up when you still wouldn’t be able to help them when they came back in?
Primary doctors are making referrals to mental health professionals, but even that is awash with issues. The need is so much greater then what can be provided. The system is flooded with cases. The sheer volume of people makes providing care immensely difficult. It means shorter visits and fewer follow up appointments. How else can a provider get to everyone? Well, they can’t because even with these measures in place, not everyone requesting services are getting them (and not because they don’t qualify). But these measures impact the kind of care that people receive.
The system is struggling. There are just so many reasons that follow up for mental health isn’t happening. I just don’t want people to think that this means that primary doctors are bad people or bad doctors. Many are older doctors that were educated in an era when mental health wasn’t taught or considered a primary issue. They don’t have any tools for treating mental health. Those patients receiving treatment from primary doctors are often misdiagnosed and have poor outcomes because of this. Recall the lack of training. Just like cardiac illnesses, a primary doctor identifies a potential problem and then makes a referral to a specialist. Once a treatment regime is established by the specialist the primary doctor helps the patient maintain that treatment regime and monitors for the need to return to the specialist. It is unfair to expect a general practitioner to provide specialized care.
And how is a doctor supposed to help a patient with any mental health issue in 15 minute intervals? This is ludicrous. It takes way longer then that to assess how a patient is doing with their mental health. I personally feel this is a large factor is why primary doctors don’t see that there is a problem and why they don’t follow up with their patients on mental health issues. The amount of time a doctor gets with each patient is minimal. I don’t think this is enough to deal with any health issue.
Our health system is struggling. Because of that, doctors are struggling to provide good care. Don’t hate the providers for these short comings. Hate the system. We’re dependent on insurance that has way to much power in deciding what care patients receive. We have a shortage of providers in all fields, but especially in mental health. We have a fast food culture looking for fast appointments and quick fixes. We have medical companies focused on raking in profits rather then positive patient outcomes. We have costs that are rising and making it impossible for people to afford care, even with insurance.
Our system is broken.