Knowing that most people initially seek out treatment for their mental health concerns through their general practitioner or family doctor, you have to wonder how many of them feel about being the front line in the war on depression and such.

Dr. Rob is such a physician and wrote an entry today about dealing with patients who present with symptoms of major depression. Does he just prescribed the asked-for antidepressants and send them on their way? Thankfully, he does not:

Having observed people over the 14 years I have practiced, I think that there are times when it is actually to the person’s detriment to take medication. I am not referring to the potential of adverse events or side effects, but more to the fact that it is not always good to avoid going through hard times. This is difficult to get across to the patient, however, and runs the risk of coming off sounding patronizing.

To help me get my message quickly to patients, I have developed several illustrations that explain depression and my approach to it.

    1. Medications for depression are like a prop that holds a wall up that is falling down. If you hammer on the wall before you put the prop up, you may knock the wall over. The prop is important to stabilize things. Some people, however, are content to put the prop up and call the problem solved. Taking medication alone makes it possible to do what needs to be done to find out what is really causing problems.

    2. If someone comes to my office with chest pressure, I don’t simply give them pain medications to make their symptoms go away. In fact, treating the pain may actually harm the person by giving them a false sense of everything being OK. The pain is there for a reason, and finding out why it is there is more important than making it go away.

I’m glad to read some docs recognize their own limitations and understand how to beneficially help their patients, while recognizing that the prescription of a medication is just the first step on a healing journey.

Dr. Rob is alright in my book!

Read the full blog entry over at Musings of a Distractible Mind.