Doctors don't believe me


Doctors don't believe me


your avatar   Roseanna, 25-year-old woman

I have depression/anxiety, ADD, a language expressive disorder and a mathematic disorder. I'm in counseling and I see a doctor. I am presently on Zoloft for the anxiety and depression.

I have a history of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. I was in psychiatric hospitals when I was 3, 5 and 13 years old. The Zoloft takes care of the depression but not the ADD. My doctor does not understand this condition. He told me today that I do these things to myself because I'm hard on myself. He said this after I told him that my thoughts are constantly jumping from one thing to another, which causes me major anxiety, and I'm really having a rough time. I have been tested for ADD and it showed that I had the condition. But my doctor won't treat me for it. He says that everyone has good and bad days. The doctor that tested me for ADD (which was last year) said that he felt that I didn't need any medication for it at that time.

I really need help but no one understands that. At times I feel like I'm at the end of my rope and I can't take anymore. I find that most doctors don't know that much about adult ADD. Or they don't believe in it. What do I do?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Roseanna,

You have had your share of troubles, haven't you? At only 25 years of age, you are a veteran of the mental health industry. And all those so-called experts have filled your mind as full of falsehood as they have filled your brain with damaging drugs like Zoloft.

Roseanna, the message coming loud and clear from your short note is: I AM FAULTY.

If you were born without a leg, or suffered an accident as a baby and lost it, you would need an artificial leg and would be physically handicapped for the rest of your life. Your emotional problems feel the same to you: you think you can't possibly cope without this drug and that to help you.

I completely disagree.

You don't say how long you have been using psychoactive medication, but from your note I deduce that it has been since childhood. Roseanne, these things have serious side effects. Zoloft is so bad that it has been withdrawn from use in my country. I have absolutely no doubt that many of the problems that distress you are the side effects of the drugs you have been taking.

That's right: rather than helping you, they have given you the patterns of thought and behavior that you complain of.

For example, you mention anxiety. One possible side effect of Zoloft is severe anxiety. Some people suffer panic attacks as a result of taking Zoloft.

I have no doubt that you have difficulty concentrating, that your attention wanders, and that throughout your school years you had educational problems that interfered with your success. I am willing to bet that you are more intelligent than your achievements suggest. After all, according to you, you meet the diagnostic criteria for ADD.

You say 'I have a history of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I was in psychiatric hospitals when I was 3,5 and 13 yrs. old.'

Rosanna, THIS is the key to your current condition. You were sexually abused, beaten, made to feel worthless and faulty by the people who were supposedly in care of your welfare. You were separated from your family as a tiny child and put into a hospital setting.

These experiences were NOT like having your leg cut off. They did not turn you into an emotional and mental cripple.

You don't need even more drugs, to cope with your difficulty in concentrating. You need to deal with the terrible effects of having been abused and hurt and taken away from your family for several periods.

You say you are in counseling. THAT is something I approve of, provided your counselor uses scientifically proven techniques that work.

In your opinion, the Zoloft takes care of the depression. It does not. It masks it. You can't take care of depression except by tracking down and dealing with the long-standing habits of thought and feeling that are involved. You have gone through many years without improvement, because you have expected the drugs to change things, and they didn't -- they couldn't. Only YOU have the power to make the changes that defeat depression, and that is what counseling is for.

In my practice, the only long-term clients are people like you: those who have suffered severe abuse, particularly sexual abuse, as children. Most of them improve, and learn to get rid of ancient scar tissue.

The first step you need to take, in order to conquer your problems, is to reject a life-long attitude: that you are a sort of cripple, that nothing can be done to help you, and instead it is necessary to have a sort of chemical artificial leg to enable you to progress through life.

Believe me, you are as good as the next person. I do not believe that the long list of diagnoses you gave are inherent parts of you. They are the direct consequences of the mis-treatment you suffered as a child, and as such are reversible.

Go back to your counselor with the attitude that this person can help you to become whole again, to move forward, on your own two legs.

At the moment, you are a poor victim. I challenge you to become a proud survivor.

All the best,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


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