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Ask Dr. SchwartzAsk Dr. Schwartz:
Psychotherapy and Mental Health questions

Should I see a different psychiatrist?

Fri, Dec 1st 2006

Hello,

I am a 22 year old female, with no family mental issues I know about (not a very talkative family). I\'ve seen many doctors regarding my mental health issues as well as therapists (one for appx 3 years, one for appx. 5 months up til now), and the only thing I have really learned about myself is that I am really very bad at analysing my own motivations and behaviours. I\'m not very comfortable in the therapy situations, especially regarding expressing my feelings, but I do try. Due to issues, such as insomnia (with very sporadic and short lived hypersomnia), extreme conflict avoidance, inability to concentrate, indifference towards things that I used to enjoy, bitterness/resentful feelings towards loved ones, self-mutilation, abysmal self esteem, self-sabotage in career and school, and suicide attempts, I have seen a variety of psychiatrists. The first psychiatrist I went to see was when I was 18, nearing the end of my second year of college, as my issues were interfering with my schoolwork. He diagnosed me as chronically depressed and put me on medications, telling me to refer to my family doctor for any prescription changes. I did so. After many many months, and many types of medications that had no effect on my mood, and another suicide attempt, I was referred to a different psychiatrist. This doctor suggested that I was not in fact depressed, and that I should go on lithium, but did not tell me why he felt that would be a good medication for me. I responded that I wasn\'t interested in a prescription, especially not a long-term one, unless I had a diagnosis, and he told me that I should not go to a psychiatrist unless I was looking for medications. Not impressed, I went back to my doctor and asked him to refer me to another psychiatrist. I did go see the new psychiatrist, who was much more personable than the ones I had seen before. His obeservations were that I seemed to have traits of borderline personality disorder and cyclothymidia, but as the anti-depressents did not work, he did not think I had depression. He then told me that if I felt I needed to be back on anti-depressents (even though I explained to him that they did not work), I could get another referral to go see him, otherwise I should just continue seeing my family doctor and therapist. I left his office feeling rather upset, having no more answers than when I entered.

That\'s where I am today. Is it strange to want a diagnosis so badly? The only thing I can think of in this situation that is worse than having a mental illness is the idea that I don\'t have one, and my behaviour and feelings are invalid. I also understand that diagnosing a mental illness or personality disorder is not that simple. Should I continue on as I am now, without seeing any more psychiatrists, or should I try and find one who will speak to me (without being rude) for longer than a half an hour? I am not sure if it is worth my or the doctor\'s time. Thank you for your time and advice! -A. Leigh

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