Friday, August 12, 2022

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We need more stress doctors


Nearly three months ago my best friend got hit by a salvo of stressed-induced insomnia. Two or three hours of shut-eye a night was average. It soon mashed him into a daily spate of nearly unendurable depression. He morphed into a walking zombie. He felt indentured to his own helplessness.

My pal luckily got attention by an A-1 psychiatrist. Options were suggested and tested. A solution to his crisis defied simple measures. His best friend got him into a hospital. His painful pleas were heard and attended to, somewhat. Medication was proposed and used. The situation moderated. Back home, sack time started to tank again. His good doctor suggested a local outpatient program. Daily group meetings for anxiety and emotionally-bombed citizens.

My friend expected nothing in this program but happily found refuge and understanding from a terrific staff and fellow travelers in need. The group included the well-to-do and those who struggle, a real Noah’s Ark for the tortured.

He was surprised how many of his fellows were in nightly combat with sleep disorders. One woman in the group was detoxing herself from Xanax addiction and was a sobbing wreck. And, those suffering had a common complaint: general practitioner doctors prescribing drugs for anxiety and depression that did little or nothing to attenuate their problems. They growled about their family doctor’s lack of real insight into the proper use of these powerful pills and rough side effects. Many of the outpatients had sought out “real” psychiatrists who unfortunately were overwhelmingly booked and taking no new patients. Hopelessness filled those emotionally crushed souls.

My pal lucked out with a great local program, first-rate psychiatrists and caring staff members. He and some others stuck to the group curriculum and got some supreme medical help and then checked out and were good to go.

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Now my friend is home, sleeping OK and back in daily action. He touts the obvious that sleep is “bliss,” sleep is “emotional health squared” and sleep is “salvation.” He also knows there’s little support locally to those emotionally zapped people needing multiple options for their well being. My pal had lucked out. Sadly, others in the group were in a tailspin and might have slipped beneath the waves.

Many general doctors are good, know their stuff and help those in need. Many don’t. Maybe highly trained psych Physicians Assistants should be created to fill the gaps in support, or… who knows?

I’m glad my friend made it and I hope others will too. And of course my best friend in all of this was yours truly.

Gary Wilson
–Des Moines


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