Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Different Diagnoses - More than 100 medical disorders can masquerade as psychological conditions

I would argue that because it's become so "easy" to medicate anxiety and depression thanks to Big Pharma, that doctors frequently don't even consider the two symptoms. In some cases, I've run across doctors who want to blame my disease on the anxiety or depression rather than the other way around. There seems to be this pervasive magical belief that "bad thinking can make you sick..." Or that if there's a psychological component involved at all, well, now that you can check the little box on the diagnosis form, job done! Ship the patient to the head shrinker. The doctor's rush to fulfill his/her professional paperwork obligations, leaves them overlooking their patient obligations of a full investigation.

Confusing Medical Ailments With Mental Illness "An elderly woman's sudden depression turns out to be a side effect of her high blood-pressure medication.

A new mother's exhaustion and disinterest in her baby seem like postpartum depression—but actually signal a postpartum thyroid imbalance that medication can correct.

A middle-aged manager has angry outbursts at work and frequently feels "ready to explode." A brain scan reveals temporal-lobe seizures, a type of epilepsy that can be treated with surgery or medication.

More than 100 medical disorders can masquerade as psychological conditions, according to Harvard psychiatrist Barbara Schildkrout, who cited these examples among others in "Unmasking Psychological Symptoms," a book aimed at helping therapists broaden their diagnostic skills.

Studies have suggested that medical conditions may cause mental-health issues in as many as 25% of psychiatric patients and contribute to them in more than 75%.

[From Confusing Medical Ailments With Mental Illness]

If doctors were criminal investigators, they won't last past their first trial. In criminal proceedings, you're not allowed to just present a theory and then find the evidence to support that theory. All evidence must be collected, and all theories of the crime must be explored (even the ones that look like dead ends). Just finding a culprit isn't enough. You've got to prove it was that baddie rather than any of the other possible baddies out there.

But this would take an investment of time that doctors just don't seem to have. I don't know why that's the case... whether it's a doctor shortage, or bad time management within the system, or some sort of crappy incentives that drive our doctors to act this way. Whatever it is, patients are ending up the victims. We need to change this.

1 comment:

  1. I myself was diagnosed as depressed / anxious / attention seeking / somatization disorder last year when neurologists could find no organic reason for my illness. Because they couldn't work it out the illness was blamed on me - I enjoyed being ill.

    After spending hours googling my symptoms I found my own diagnosis - Postural orthostatic tachycardia and ehler danlos syndrome. What annoyed me the most was the fact EDS is genetic and I had so many of the symptoms from birth and no one noticed.

    One part of my medical mystery remains my ptosis and double vision - the local neurologists refuse to see me as they say theres nothing organically wrong. Every other dr I see outside of neurology says it myasthenia gravis.

    I had to change GP's to get a diagnosis and fight my corner for four years. Drs all too easily blame the patient and their mental health for their ailments. Look at MS patients in the 1950's and 1960's who were all told it was in their head.

    Thanks for your post xx The myasthenia kid