Often, patients assume that the doctor they see for one condition does not need to know about other health issues. I understand why an individual may think that, but whenever medication is involved, it’s best to be cautious. Ned, for example, came to me after a disastrous combination of antidepressants and diuretics he was taking for high blood pressure landed him in the emergency room with an irregular heartbeat and nauseating dizziness.
The problem occurred because Ned neglected to tell his previous physician that he was seeing a psychiatrist who had prescribed Prozac for depression. Combining Prozac and diuretics can create an imbalance in minerals known as electrolytes, resulting in dizziness, heart arrhythmias, and other issues — exactly what happened to Ned.
A few weeks after his trip to the emergency room, Ned came to see me, at a friend’s recommendation. After listening to his explanation of recent events, I suspected he might have been taking incompatible drugs, primarily because he did not inform his previous doctor of the antidepressants he was already taking. “I know I should have said something to the other doctor, but I guess I was embarrassed about going to a shrink,” Ned explained.
We had a talk about emotional issues because I felt it was important for Ned to understand that there was absolutely no reason to feel shame about what he was experiencing. His mother and a dear friend had both passed away in the same year, and Ned was simply grieving.
But I did feel there were better alternatives than antidepressants, so we talked about those, too. Furthermore, I suggested Ned think about controlling his blood pressure with natural remedies after getting the depression under control.
Since his trip to the emergency room, Ned has transitioned from diuretics to blood pressure management with lifestyle changes. Just as importantly, he found that increasing his activity level with 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking every day provided him with better emotional stability. “It’s surprising that something as simple as getting out and walking through the neighborhood can make a person feel better,” he observed during our last visit. “But hey, it works for me. Now whenever something’s on my mind, I take a walk, and along the way, I think about the situation. It’s a much better way to solve problems than popping a pill. I wouldn’t miss my daily walk for anything.”
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: September 4, 2012