When you visit a doctor, he or she will start by asking what brought you to the clinic?
You will then be examined and if needed asked to do some tests, and before you leave you would ask ‘what is wrong with me, dr?
The doctor will then tell you the name of your condition, be it migraine, high blood pressure or stress. This is known as the diagnosis; it’s simply giving a name to what you are experiencing and helping doctors communicate with each other if you need input from other doctors.
If the doctor you are seeing is a psychiatrist, however, the process may be a little different as the examination starts the moment you step in the room.
How you dress and walk can say a lot about your mood and how you feel. What you say and the way you say it talk about your thought process.
A good psychiatrist listens to the patient's experience instead of just asking questions in a tick box manner just to arrive at a diagnosis, which is important yet should not be the main focus of the encounter.
A group of psychologists suggested shifting the focus from ‘what is wrong with you?’ to ‘What has happened to you?’ so people can build a narrative around their suffering.
This is believed to give importance to personal experiences instead of just giving it a medical name as some people present with grief or experience poverty or loneliness so the distress one experiencing could be a normal reaction to a life event. So, exploring such feelings would be an important step to help the person deal with them.
The word trauma is used to describe an event that puts you or someone close to you at risk of serious harm or death which eventually makes you feel frightened and unsafe.
An example of trauma is being subjected to violence, accidents or natural disasters, or living in an unsafe environment. Such traumas can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, addiction to drugs and alcohol or even psychosis which is a severe form of mental illness where a person loses touch with reality.
The way we react to trauma would vary according to our previous experiences and the amount of support we get from people around us.
In mild cases one can deal with trauma without professional help by acknowledging the trauma and trying to keep a daily routine.
Regular exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep help as well as seeking support from a person you trust.
Sometimes such interventions may not work and more professional help is needed. In such cases a trained therapist will work with you to overcome the trauma and start your journey towards recovery.
Having a good doctor patient relationship based on mutual respect and non-judgmental listening is the key to a successful journey yet in reality the road can be bumpy sometimes especially when the patients start to see his therapist as some on from his previous life, say a strict father figure, or an overprotective mother.
Being aware of such dynamics is important for both doctors and patients to keep the relationship strictly professional.
Finally, while the road toward recovery can be very long, one eventually will get there, with sheer dedication and hard work.