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Psychiatrist made my girlfriend feel so much worse, what should we do? Watch

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    My girlfriend has an appointment with a psychiatrist for depression in late Feb, but she's recently been severely suicidal. We rang the crisis team one night after she'd gotten really bad. They've arranged home visits every two days (we don't live together and I don't think it's safe for her to be alone) and they also made her an appointment with one of their psychiatrists, which we went to together today.

    What a disaster. The psychiatrist we saw was terrible. She was a bad listener, interrupting my girlfriend often and she seemed to get a very poor view of what was actually going on. She didn't push for details, and when I tried to explain things (we talk about the situation a lot, so I come along because my gf has some difficulty talking about it and often tries really hard to make it look less severe than it is), she didn't seem to listen and at one point interrupted me and said she just wanted to hear it from my gf.

    She was condescending and normalised a lot of her difficulties ("I found uni stressful too"). She gave useless and inappropriate advice - go to CBT, eat better, go out more, all advice she's heard over and over and that she's tried really hard to do, but she can't even get out of bed most days. We tried to explain this but the psych just told her to try. When we were talking about suicide, she said "please don't do it" and she said "things will get better". My gf responded "people have been saying that for years" (crying). She laughed. Not a nervous or awkward laugh, she just laughed and didn't say anything.

    In the end, she prescribed an SSRI (which the GP could have done), and told her to "try" to attend CBT. That was pretty much it. She was also going to reduce the frequency of home visits from the crisis team, but I insisted she wasn't safe and needed them.

    I don't think she was malicious, but she was ****ing awful at her job. When we got home we actually looked through my gf's lecture slides from her communications module (she does a medical course) on what not to do, and this doctor did every single thing.

    We've rang up and asked to make her next appointment with a different doctor, although we haven't heard about that yet. I'm honestly really worried about the next patient she gets, though. She made her feel so much worse, completely hopeless, and gave her very little treatment in the end.

    I feel like we should make some sort of complaint but I don't know if that's too extreme or not?
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    I would make a complaint. It's not just a case of "I don't feel as though enough was done". It to me, sounds as though your girlfriend wasn't listened to at all and sounds like her problems were, as you say, normal.
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    Oh my lord. I am so, so sorry you had to go through that. You should absolutely complain, hate to think that someone this inconsiderate is treating people.
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    Unfortunately this is very very common, especially I have found within the Crisis Teams. Is your girlfriend under the CMHT?
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    (Original post by JordanL_)
    My girlfriend has an appointment with a psychiatrist for depression in late Feb, but she's recently been severely suicidal. We rang the crisis team one night after she'd gotten really bad. They've arranged home visits every two days (we don't live together and I don't think it's safe for her to be alone) and they also made her an appointment with one of their psychiatrists, which we went to together today.

    What a disaster. The psychiatrist we saw was terrible. She was a bad listener, interrupting my girlfriend often and she seemed to get a very poor view of what was actually going on. She didn't push for details, and when I tried to explain things (we talk about the situation a lot, so I come along because my gf has some difficulty talking about it and often tries really hard to make it look less severe than it is), she didn't seem to listen and at one point interrupted me and said she just wanted to hear it from my gf.

    She was condescending and normalised a lot of her difficulties ("I found uni stressful too". She gave useless and inappropriate advice - go to CBT, eat better, go out more, all advice she's heard over and over and that she's tried really hard to do, but she can't even get out of bed most days. We tried to explain this but the psych just told her to try. When we were talking about suicide, she said "please don't do it" and she said "things will get better". My gf responded "people have been saying that for years" (crying). She laughed. Not a nervous or awkward laugh, she just laughed and didn't say anything.

    In the end, she prescribed an SSRI (which the GP could have done), and told her to "try" to attend CBT. That was pretty much it. She was also going to reduce the frequency of home visits from the crisis team, but I insisted she wasn't safe and needed them.

    I don't think she was malicious, but she was ****ing awful at her job. When we got home we actually looked through my gf's lecture slides from her communications module (she does a medical course) on what not to do, and this doctor did every single thing.

    We've rang up and asked to make her next appointment with a different doctor, although we haven't heard about that yet. I'm honestly really worried about the next patient she gets, though. She made her feel so much worse, completely hopeless, and gave her very little treatment in the end.

    I feel like we should make some sort of complaint but I don't know if that's too extreme or not?
    I'm sorry your gf is struggling and that she's had such a bad experience with somebody who is meant to help her. There is some level of personality clash etc with psychs and therapists, but it seems that was worse than just not clicking. That is not what all psychs are like so please try not to let it discourage you/ her from reaching out in the future.

    I suggest you do consider reporting the issues you had and that you/ she ask to see a different psych (I think you've done that already). If nobody reports her it will keep happening. It's her job to help people and if she's not something needs to be done. Also, honestly looking back I really wish I had reported somebody who was unhelpful with me. If you report i you know you've done what you can and you won't have anything to regret later.

    Most important, try not to let this get your gfs spirits down. She has made some really important steps and should be proud of herself for that. I've had some bad experiences with people before, but I found somebody who helped guide me to the right things and I did get better. You just can't give up. Even when you're at the point there seems to be no other option keep looking until you find one. You will get there eventually and it will be worth it.

    I hope the next person she sees is much better and she can start towards some good progress. Keep at it and try to stay positive as much as possible. She's lucky to have you supporting her. I know how helpful somebody like you can be- i'd have had so much more difficulty if it weren't for my bf and his support.
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    Yes absolutely, please report her. Your gf has you, what if someone lonely contacts her and she gives them her terrible advice, it could worsen the situation and potentially lead to suicide.

    Someone so inconsiderate should not be working with people in such pivotal states.
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    I would say on a couple of points - it is important that the psych hears from your GF NOT you. In your case it may be that you do know the situation but in many cases you may not be giving the most accurate impression, they want to hear your GFs words and they do need to be a little careful in case there's abuse and so on. Also, eating well and attending CBT are very valid pieces of advice for someone with depression - good lifestyle and CBT can make a huge difference and your GF does need to 'try' to improve things for herself.

    Several things she did happen ALL THE TIME, the 'oh I understand that bit' or 'once I did this' stuff is horrendously common, we're used to using that to empathise with people but it truly is a terrible way to do it (I was once told 'oh yeah fasting is great isn't it, I always feel great when I fast' when I disclosed that I hadn't eaten in several days - anorexia). Even if someone has experienced severe depression they still can't presume to know your GFs personal experience. And invalidating suicidal thoughts is also a very common one 'lots of people say it'/'don't kill yourself'/'itll get better'/'if you just did X' and equally damaging.

    I do understand how you feel though. I've visited some truly shocking psychiatrists, they tend to be much worse than people who've come from a psychology/nursing background at empathising with patients and treating them like people. There's too much of a 'get them and get them out quickly' rather than taking the time to listen and they tend to act like they have a checkbox to get through rather than getting a general impression of how the patient feels. You can certainly complain and/or request a different psychiatrist.

    You should have a think about what you actually want. You said an SSRI and CBT referral were useless but I'm not sure what else a psychiatrist would do? That is the usual medication for depression and hospitalisation is really not a route you wanna go down if you can help it. Psychiatrists usually oversee treatment + prescribe meds rather than actually treating someone themselves.
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    Firstly, mental health teams that aren't helpful on the surface are horrible. I will give you my years of knowledge and another set of eyes on the situation.

    A psychologist is only interested in giving you drugs. So they ask a bit about your life, see if you are hearing voices etc... they have a limited window of time. Did the psychiatrist ask about your gf family history and how long she's been feeling this way.

    I think anti depressants are a good start - after all they have been proven to work in some people and your gf hasn't tried them before. Depression won't lift itself and talking therapies with meds have been proven to be the best combination.

    Can I ask why she didn't start on anti depressants before? I'm assuming she went to her GP about her depression.

    The psychiatrist at the crisis centre may not be the best one because they only help people in crisis - those in immediate mental health distress (this is bringing back awful memories from my experience).

    I suggest your GF goes to her GP, one she trusts and starts with meds, because she needs her mood to improve and she can't do it herself. Is it possible to see the doctor every few days to check that the meds are ok and she's not at immediate harm?

    You need to tell your gf things will get better, she just needs to find the right mix, depression can be treated. She's trying hard now, and she needs to try harder (I hate that saying but it makes sense).

    Can you get a referral to a psychiatrist not linked to the crisis team? Talking therapies? How is the support around her? Working/studying? Family?
 
 
 
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