psychiatrist woes
January 5, 2012 6:42 AM   Subscribe

I haven't been able to see my psychiatrist in several weeks due to my work schedule. I am out of meds and don't know what to do as his office is not good about returning phone calls. I think I need to find a new psychiatrist who can accommodate my schedule but don't know if this is possible. Help?

I am bipolar II and have been on meds since 2007 (lamictal, seroquel, ambien cr). My work schedule has changed recently which made it difficult to see my psychiatrist at the normal time (I meet w/him once a month). I used to be able to see him at 7pm, but with my new schedule this isn't possible. I have not been able to knock off work early to get to my appointments - I work in a small, understaffed office and it's tricky to leave in the middle of something.

Even more distressing is the fact that when I call my psychiatrist to try to come up with a solution to this situation, they frequently don't call back and I have to call several times over to even have a conversation with them. They have been able to call in emergency prescriptions for a weeks' worth of seroquel and lamictal for me but I don't want to keep doing this. Ideally I'd like to be able to get 3 months's worth of meds per prescription so I only have to come in for an appointment 4x a year - that is something I can plan ahead for with my suvervisor and colleagues - but is this possible?

If not, I think I need to find a psychiatrist who either takes late evening (past 7pm) appointments, or weekend appointments. How do I do this? I am so overwhelmed by the thought of having to find a new doctor. I have been off my meds now for a couple of weeks and am managing (on the bipolar spectrum I'm more on the low end cyclothemic side) but am sure that eventually things will get worse.

Any reccomendations for p-docs in the mid-Hudson valley (between Fishkill and Poughkeepsie) who do evenings (past 7) or weekends? Insurance is Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. Or suggestions as to how to get my current doc to give me several months worth of meds at a time?
posted by thereemix to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Do you have a GP who will give you a prescription to tide you over? Otherwise, just tell your p-doc that it works much better for you to have a larger amount prescribed, especially if you're feeling stable on your current dose.
posted by editrixx at 6:52 AM on January 5, 2012


Your pharmacist should be able to contact your Dr. and get you a full refill.
posted by lee at 6:55 AM on January 5, 2012


If you need just a few pills to tide you over, your pharmacist can frequently help you out even if they can't reach your doctor. You can also try urgent care clinics, which are frequently open later and which can also prescribe the meds for you. It might be a little more expensive - my insurance co-pay for urgent care is $50 and my regular co-pay is $35 but if you're only going every 3 months, that might be workable.

I know how overwhelming things can seem so I took the liberty of finding a probably close zip code and got a list of psychiatrists from psychology today:
http://psychiatrists.psychologytoday.com/rms/prof_results.php?sid=1325775767.7994_31375&county=Ulster&state=NY&zipcode=12401

You could go through those and see if any of them have the right hours/insurance combo you need.

Hope that helps.
posted by robotyoshimi at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2012


One more thing. You'd probably be ok knocking off work a bit early for like, chemotherapy, right? My advice is to try to figure out a way to be able to make your mental health a priority. Whether that's lunch appointments or leaving a little early once a month, the place will not fall apart without you...and you could fall apart without your medication and therapy.
posted by editrixx at 7:16 AM on January 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Have you talked to your psychiatrist about the situation itself? A lot of p-docs will alter their schedules for patients, and if not, they have referral lists of other doctors who do have the right schedule. You don't have to do all the searching on your own, is what I'm saying.
posted by xingcat at 7:29 AM on January 5, 2012


It sounds to me like once you get a new psychiatrist, your overall drop in hassle will make it worth the bother. Call your insurance company for a list of covered providers, and take a lunch hour to make some phone calls.

What your asking for is totally reasonable, and it's out there. I see my shrink every three or four months, and if I have paperwork or need a short term prescription (I get free meds through the drug companies), he takes care of it the same or next day.

I concur with editrixx as well. Your mental health should be a priority, and even a monthly visit is reasonable to schedule around.
posted by freshwater at 7:45 AM on January 5, 2012


Seconding having your GP, if you have one, give you the prescriptions. I see a psychologist who can't give prescriptions, so the meds all come from my doc. My schedule is super flexible and I can see her every six weeks, but she still gives me my prescriptions six months at a time (2 month prescriptions, 3 refills).

I'm also going to add a voice to the chorus saying it would be good if you could find a solution to the problem of leaving work. Going without meds is a serious medical risk. Not taking the meds may be contributing to your not being able to come up with a solution to the problem.

I've had several therapists who worked later in the evenings, but I don't know about psychiatrists. If you're in crisis, though, you could probably go to an ER and see a psychiatrist at all hours. Probably an expensive and inconvenient option, however.
posted by looli at 8:16 AM on January 5, 2012


First, get yourself some meds right away via one of the methods described above. It's not good that they're not getting back to you. But is there any other kind of doctor you would need an post-8pm or weekend visit in order to see on a monthly basis for a serious chronic health problem? I'm worried that there is some small part of you that does not want to be on bipolar medication, that is perhaps itching to get to one of the poles (I know whereof I speak here), and that you're sort of playing right into its hands by minimizing your illness and the importance of what are in fact a couple of serious medications. Especially if you're stressed out and (going by the ambien scrip) haven't been sleeping but are to some degree liking it and not wanting to change anything. This is one reason more frequent visits are good (although obvs not at the expense if not getting meds at all): you want to give a doctor a chance to notice you pulling away from treatment, even if you don't notice it yourself.
posted by Adventurer at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2012


I know, you're asking for specific p-doc recommendations, that was kind of a crummy thing to say. But please, in the future, take your health as seriously as you take your job. You don't have to tell your co-workers what kind of medical treatment you're getting once a month. Which is really really not very often.
posted by Adventurer at 11:28 AM on January 5, 2012


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