This is a guest post by T. Michael Kates.
I am a doctor, but I am not your doctor. This is not medical advice. The things I provide through Dadding Depressed are simply some ideas that you may want to discuss with your healthcare provider.
“Do what is right, and do it now.”
― Atul Gawande
When I get to my office in the morning, the first thing I do is look at the list of patients I have to see that day. As a doctor, you get to know a small percentage of your patients especially well. These are the people who are in the clinic every month to get lab work done, get the results of the pathology report, or just talk about their general well-being. Most of the time I know why people are there to see me.
But every day there is at least one middle-aged man whom I have never seen before. His reason for the exam is typically listed as “physical.” It is a joke in medicine that there are is one reason that men make doctors appointments: their significant other made them. Men, in general, don’t talk about their health; they don’t like going to the doctor. When they eventually do, it is for good reason, and these are some of my favorite appointments. You have no clue what you are walking into.
A large number of men are struggling with depression and anxiety as well as other ailments, but they are afraid to talk to a doctor about it. Simply acknowledging it and making a small step towards making a change goes a long way to fixing the problem.
As a health professional, I manage these diseases every day; it is one of my specialties as a family physician. If your family doctor is not comfortable treating you, don’t fret. They can give you a referral to someone who can.
If you are a man struggling with depression I encourage you to pick up the phone and make an appointment. If you are the significant other of someone who struggles with depression, encourage them to talk to a doctor. But don’t force them or make an appointment without their consent and knowledge as that can foster resentment.
At the end of my workday, when I have seen all of my patients and cared for everyone to the best of my ability, I go home, just like everyone else. See, Doctors are people too–people walking the same earth through all its seasons–ups and downs and light and dark–who simply want to care for other people.
T. Michael Kates is chief resident at UP Health System Marquette Family Medicine Residency program. He has a special interest in mental health and addiction medicine. When he isn’t working he is usually mountain biking or fly-fishing. He and D. Doug Mains used to be in a band together and remain good friends.