Modern medicine isn’t always good at treating your whole self. If you see a different doctor each time you visit a clinic or have to go to the emergency room, the doctor’s schedule and priorities may not leave enough time for a thorough diagnosis of symptoms.
It took five years for me to get diagnosed with depression and start treatment. I saw many doctors and suffered through a lot of tests. For years I was diagnosed with environmental allergies and took an antihistamine. When that was unsuccessful, I tried an elimination diet to see if I had a food sensitivity. When I was ready to give up and just live with my symptoms, my family doctor told me that I didn’t have to be content with just feeling okay, and to continue on the quest until we discovered the culprit.
If you have a family doctor who has treated you for years, you have a valuable asset that most Americans don’t have. A doctor who knows your tendencies, the way you speak, and whether or not take medicines as prescribed is extraordinarily valuable in keeping you healthy. My family doctor was an advocate for me, refusing to let me give up and accept the way I felt.
Having a strong relationship with a family doctor who knows your relatives and community can provide you with a better standard of healthcare than one who is unfamiliar with you.
Understand treatment history
Instead of seeing a new doctor at each visit, a doctor who is familiar with your history can consider community and extended family health problems that might affect your diagnosis. They’re familiar with the treatments and tests you’ve undergone and understand the results. If there is an environmental tendency in the area that causes high lead levels, the doctor will preemptively screen for contaminants and recommend a fix.
Insight into family health profile
When a doctor treats the entire family, there is an insight into predispositions for depression, high blood pressure, or understanding of a virus passing between family members. For example, if treating one child for strep throat, the doctor can anticipate another family member coming in contact with the bacteria. This can speed diagnosis and provide better patient care.
Realistic about the challenges of adjustments
Many doctors underestimate how hard it is for patients to make permanent lifestyle changes. Side effects are the most common reason people discontinue meds or are non-compliant with instructions. Family doctors have insight and realistic expectations for how well a family as a whole can implement lifestyle changes.
Expanded treatment options beyond medication
Having intimate knowledge of your previous care, a doctor may suggest a treatment tailored for your genetic profile, or one that will be easier for you to maintain. For example, a patient who presents with depression but is sensitive to medication may be steered toward a non-medicine treatment like an Alpha-Stim device.
Choose your doctor wisely
Your family doctor can be a valuable health asset and advocate. Build a strong relationship with a doctor in your community who understands the impact of potential treatments and compliance. You’ll receive better healthcare from a doctor who can treat your whole self rather than one who is unfamiliar with you.