I had my first GP check-up since being in the states this week. Turns out I'm doing ok. He was even polite in telling me to get some more exercise and eat healthy. In fact, I thought he was a pretty decent doctor but it's a little too early to form my complete opinion on him yet. However, my trip to the doctor reminds me about the power of the mind and in particularly it's influence over the body. It's something that is easy to forget at a doctors visit. They check your weight, height, blood pressure, your breathing, ears, throat and nose but not once did he say "Well, how are you this week? What's going on?". Of course if he did ask that he would probably get a short "nothing, fine" understatement from me but a potentially hour long conversation from someone who came in with a hang-nail. Shouldn't someones overall well-being be a part of the examination though?
When the nurse came in to get a base level reading of my overall health she asked the usual things, any prescriptions? any conditions? Allergies? The usual. At one point she said "Now, have you ever suffered any anxiety or depression". I was on a roll of saying "no" and so reflexively I said "no". As she wrote it down, I thought a little harder and said "Well, actually that's heck of a question. Of course I have been anxious and depressed in the past but nothing that was normal or didn't pass. " I suppose the question was to check previous mental health status or prescriptions but I felt I had to suffix my answer in case she mistook me for an emotion-less psychopath. That was about it for mental health questions though.
I think a great solution would be to have a mental health professional on staff. Between the nurse leaving and the doctor coming in I had at least 15 minutes of waiting time. I also had 5 minutes of waiting time before the appointment. I'd relish the chance to chat over my concerns in that time. Hey, they may even *shock* be related to my health problems. Take insomnia for example. Wouldn't a chat about current worries, stresses, anxieties and depression lead to a better conclusion about treatment than simply covering up the problem with a prescription? I don't suppose it will ever happen, but wouldn't that be a more holistic approach to modern medicine?