Friday, 16 March 2012

How far should GPs go?

I was having a massive tidy out this morning and found an old local newspaper from a few weeks ago. The headline story was about the inquest for a teacher who tragically committed suicide following mental health problems. The inquest were trying to decide if there had been a failing in the primary care. He had been suffering from depression and seen a GP and had been referred for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and counselling. The appointment took weeks to come through and in the meantime everything got too much for him and he sadly ended his life.

The CBT representative at the inquest and the experts in the field claimed that CBT takes weeks to have an effect and therefore even if the appointment had come through sooner it probably would not of changed the outcome.

I disagree strongly with this. These CBT sessions are taken by qualified doctors, pychiatrists and they would of very rapidly picked up on the man's mental health and how much he was suffering. I was attending appointments due to anxiety problems before Christmas and infact leading up to Christmas life in general started to get on top of me. At each weekly anxiety session I had to fill in a questionnaire and rate how I was feeling and this is how they determined that I was beginning to slip down the depression route as well. Yes I know you can trick these questionnaires but you can also tell how someone is coping in just speaking with them.

The whole article has made me think though about mental health and how it is dealt with. Yes I am low and yes I probably am depressed and I am nowhere neea feeling the need to end my life, but I had counselling for anxiety problems prior to Christmas. By the end of the course they decided I needed CBT and referred me. I received a phone call on Monday 12th December when life is manic with Christmas school activities and my work had gone stupid and I was not in the best of places, and was asked over the phone to attend my first CBT appointment 3 days later. I did not write my appointment down, I was run off my feet with work and I consequently missed it.

Once things had calmed down after Christmas I realised I had missed it and rang to try and rebook - but I had been discharged for non-attendance. I have had to go back to my GP to be re-referred. It is now March and I am still waiting for the appointment.

3 weeks ago I also attended my local GPs and spoke with them about a variety of things. 3 years ago something happened which I have not been able to come to terms with and I think this is the route of all my problems. It has really got on top of me and made me very low and I have found it difficult to cope with work, the house, life etc, I have just been totally overwhelmed. Thing is there is not much the doctor can do, I probably need to pay and see a specialist organisation as it is not something doctors psychologists would normally deal with.

However after speaking with me she said she was concerned i was depressed and it was a bit of a chicken and an egg situation. While counselling does help depression sometimes a course of antidepressants are also required. She asked me to fill in forms to score me for depression and return to see her the following week to discuss them. I did the forms but I have not remade an appointment as I have been run off my feet with work.

Will the doctors contact me though to follow up and see if I am alright? Probably not. Do they know that I am still functioning fine or whether I am on a rapid downward spiral? No. I am fine but my point is I may not be.

Surely when they detect depression in someone when they don't return for an appointment should they not be asking the question that perhaps this person is needing more help. I have been there where getting out of bed each day was a humane effort and I am not entirely sure how I did it looking back. I had a husband and 2 children though to keep me going. Not everyone has the luxury of other people around them.

I appreciate the doctors see 100's of patients and they can not track everyone but everything is computerised, surely there should be a way they can flag people experiencing mental health issues and depression?

1 comment:

Gina said...

I agree with you that he system has flaws. I went to the Doctors last week and told them I couldn't cope anymore and they have put me on the waiting list for counselling and the doctor told me that this could take months! In my opinion that is way to long to wait x