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Help!!!: Laci

Question:

I have been diagnosed with Major depression and have had my meds changed 3 times within one months period. I am out of work on sick leave at this time and am having a HORRIBLE time dealing with this depression. My Family doctor has referred me to a Psychiatrist, in which I am on a waiting list to be seen! I have been out of work for 4 weeks trying to "get right". I am having a hard time dealing with myself let alone other people. My position requires me to problem solve and make high priority decisions. — The company I am employeed with has a "company" doctor that I have to see every other week to review my progress. As of 3 days ago, the "company" doctor told me that he is clearing me to return to work!!! How can this be? He is NOT my treating physician. I told my family doctor about this in which my family doctor still has me out of work for another 3 weeks and is leaving it up to the Psychiatrist to "release me to work". The company doctor talks as if this will just go away on its own if I return to work and "get on with the program!" I KNOW I am not able nor ready to return with my condition. I live in Ohio. Is there anything I can do? Do I listen to my Family physician who has filled out paperwork who has disabled me from work OR does my company doctor have the right to override him??? Lost and going around in a circle!!!!

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Answer:

Dear Laci:

Let’s take up your situation in a step by step logical way:

1. Ohio is a large state in which there are plenty of psychiatrists. Unless you live in a very rural and isolated area there is no reason why you should not find a psychiatrist who could see you immediately. For this reason I want to urge you to call as many psychiatrists as possible and who are fairly close to where you live until you find one who can treat you now.

2. Once you have found that psychiatrist and are under his care, and that will be immediately, you tell him your history, including the problems at work and you ask him to help you start the process of getting a Disability Leave of Absence. Under the Family Law Act of the United States, (FMLA), you are entitled to that leave if you are disabled and Major Depression qualifies you for that disability leave.

Please remember: Major Depression carries with it the risk of suicide and it is very common for people with Major Depression to have Suicidal Thoughts and even make some plans. I hope you have made this clear to your MD and you MUST make this clear to the psychiatrist you will see. It does not mean that you plan to kill yourself but just that you feel so awful that you think about it a lot and that returning to work right now is so upsetting to you that it increases you fear, anxiety, hopelessness and your suicidal thoughts.

A. Please understand that it is your Employer who will be required to grant you that leave and pay for it as well. You have to go through their Human Resources Department to get that leave. With your psychiatrist’s documentation, they will be required to grant you the leave. They simply have no choice.

B. If you are not recovered and able to return to work after a month or more, you can apply for Disability under the Social Security Act. That is called SSD or Social Security Disability. You will need your psychiatrist to submit documentation to support your claim when and if that time comes. SSD pays less than your employer will pay but it is often enough to get by. One benefit that you should get under SSD is Medicare health insurance during the time you are on disability.

3. At the moment, because you are using your sick leave and have not applied for FMLA disability your Employer’s doctor can claim that you can go back to work.

Bottom Line:

You must find a psychiatrist who can give you an appointment within the week; In Ohio this is hopefully not so difficult. There is no reason why you have to see the psychiatrist recommended by your doctor.

Best of Luck

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