myverywildchild

The chaos and mania of parenting a child on the spectrum

Our Psychiatrist Has Us Hooked

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Yes, my daughter is on Zoloft which, though non-addictive, is difficult to wean from. Last year when we sought out a psychiatrist, my daughters meltdowns were so often and extreme that we were in crisis mode. She needed help. Her brain chemistry was not allowing her body to regulate. It was necessary. Gratefully, I got a recommendation from a friend who has two sons on the spectrum. She had seen this psychiatrist and had immediate and positive results with her sons. She warned me that the psychiatrist was expensive and out of pocket. No matter—we were desperate for help, we were terrified about finding a qualified person, and we were willing to pay the cost. What we didn’t realize is what narrow options we had and that choosing this person to medicate our daughter not only made her dependent on the medicine, it makes us dependent on the psychiatrist. We are, essentially, hooked. Indefinitely.

Of course, it is worth it when you are receiving the right treatment for your child. It has been a god send for ours. The Zoloft has decreased her tantrums, her aggression, and a great deal of her ocd behaviors. (We have judged her progress by the degree to which she gags at random objects, i.e. miniature pink baby dolls, a stuffed rabbit, or a Boars Head ham sign). However, it has been a gradual climb, and at a year now, we are still testing out the dose. It is considerably low, and the psychiatrist has admitted she wants to proceed with caution. Which was more than ok with us. After one increase, our daughter had a “bad day,” physically acting out and throwing things around her support classroom. These kinds of surges can happen when a dose is increased. So we have proceeded with caution. We have checked in frequently with the doctor, and with each frequent check, we owe the psychiatrist another exceedingly high fee. Without giving specific numbers, my husband has pointed out that if she works a forty hour workweek, she earns an excess of a million dollars a year. Quite a fee.

Of course, we could go through our insurance. It’s not as if we have an obscure insurance plan. Even with a pricey Independence Blue Cross coverage, it was difficult for me to find providers in the mental health field. Few prescribe to children under eighteen, which of course gave me pause about our decision. But I have seen the difference. I know that it was simply necessary for my daughter, at least at the time we started. If I had gone through our insurance, most practices I found either had a three month wait list, or required that my daughter receive six weeks of therapy. Meanwhile, she was having such severe meltdowns at school that she was once barricaded under desks. We didn’t have three months.

As the private Psychiatrist said, “That’s the beauty of private practice.” The other “beauty” of it is that I am beholden to her anytime I fill a prescription. At least for now as we work out her dose. Our half hour appointments cost more than I spend on two weeks-worth of groceries. And should we go over time, and actually discuss the behaviors and emotions of the family, (the basis for determining how our daughter is doing), doc is sure to charge us for the fifteen minute over time. And should I feel nervous and need to email or call her during an unscheduled time, because I accidentally skipped a dose, or my daughter is having a stomach upset? I do not always receive a response, and am gently reminded that we may need to schedule an appointment.

I’m not sure what her “Maintenance” fees are, but I did research another private psychiatrist. I thought she might have a better “bedside” manner. She did. She also charges a third more. At least she makes it clear she is charging the extra fifteen minutes of therapy. Fifteen minutes? I’d be better off doing yoga, or lighting a candle, or deep breathing. Now I wonder if the same isn’t true of our daughter.

So until we reach some sort of maintenance dose, the psychiatrist has us all hooked.

 

Yes, my daughter is on Zoloft which, though non-addictive, is difficult to wean from. Last year when we sought out a psychiatrist, my daughters meltdowns were so often and extreme that we were in crisis mode. She needed help. Her brain chemistry was not allowing her body to regulate. It was necessary. Gratefully, I got a recommendation from a friend who has two sons on the spectrum. She had seen this psychiatrist and had immediate and positive results with her sons. She warned me that the psychiatrist was expensive and out of pocket. No matter—we were desperate for help, we were terrified about finding a qualified person, and we were willing to pay the cost. What we didn’t realize is what narrow options we had and that choosing this person to medicate our daughter not only made her dependent on the medicine, it makes us dependent on the psychiatrist. We are, essentially, hooked. Indefinitely.

Of course, it is worth it when you are receiving the right treatment for your child. It has been a god send for ours. The Zoloft has decreased her tantrums, her aggression, and a great deal of her ocd behaviors. (We have judged her progress by the degree to which she gags at random objects, i.e. miniature pink baby dolls, a stuffed rabbit, or a Boars Head ham sign). However, it has been a gradual climb, and at a year now, we are still testing out the dose. It is considerably low, and the psychiatrist has admitted she wants to proceed with caution. Which was more than ok with us. After one increase, our daughter had a “bad day,” physically acting out and throwing things around her support classroom. These kinds of surges can happen when a dose is increased. So we have proceeded with caution. We have checked in frequently with the doctor, and with each frequent check, we owe the psychiatrist another exceedingly high fee. Without giving specific numbers, my husband has pointed out that if she works a forty hour workweek, she earns an excess of a million dollars a year. Quite a fee.

Of course, we could go through our insurance. It’s not as if we have an obscure insurance plan. Even with a pricey Independence Blue Cross coverage, it was difficult for me to find providers in the mental health field. Few prescribe to children under eighteen, which of course gave me pause about our decision. But I have seen the difference. I know that it was simply necessary for my daughter, at least at the time we started. If I had gone through our insurance, most practices I found either had a three month wait list, or required that my daughter receive six weeks of therapy. Meanwhile, she was having such severe meltdowns at school that she was once barricaded under desks. We didn’t have three months.

As the private Psychiatrist said, “That’s the beauty of private practice.” The other “beauty” of it is that I am beholden to her anytime I fill a prescription. At least for now as we work out her dose. Our half hour appointments cost more than I spend on two weeks-worth of groceries. And should we go over time, and actually discuss the behaviors and emotions of the family, (the basis for determining how our daughter is doing), doc is sure to charge us for the fifteen minute over time. And should I feel nervous and need to email or call her during an unscheduled time, because I accidentally skipped a dose, or my daughter is having a stomach upset? I do not always receive a response, and am gently reminded that we may need to schedule an appointment.

I’m not sure what her “Maintenance” fees are, but I did research another private psychiatrist. I thought she might have a better “bedside” manner. She did. She also charges a third more. At least she makes it clear she is charging the extra fifteen minutes of therapy. Fifteen minutes? I’d be better off doing yoga, or lighting a candle, or deep breathing. Now I wonder if the same isn’t true of our daughter.

So until we reach some sort of maintenance dose, the psychiatrist has us all hooked.

 

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