Dr. Goldbloom opens up about the challenges of psychiatry

Toronto, ON , Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dr. David Goldbloom offers a close-up look at what it’s like to be a psychiatrist and how important the relationship is between doctor and patient.

He has co-written a book, “How can I Help?: A Week in My Life as a Psychiatrist,” with fellow psychiatrist, Dr. Pier Bryden. The book takes readers inside Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health hospital, chronicling the risks and rewards he faces when treating patients.

In discussing the book, Dr. Goldbloom notes that despite the better use of drugs and advancements in technology, the core of psychiatry is still the doctor-patient relationship. That also means understanding that a mental illness can bring out the worst in people and finding something likeable in each of his patients. He feels it will take time for neuroscience to advance psychiatry and in the mean time better drug treatments are needed for major mental illnesses.

Dr. Goldbloom observes that psychiatrists are sometimes seen apart from other health-care professionals, and it can start in medical school with teachers and students expressing dismay about the choice of psychiatry. But Dr. Goldbloom feels the most effective doctors he learned from as a student listened to their patients and treated their individual symptoms. He believes that also applies to psychiatrists.

He explains how difficult it is to turn away patients who can’t be treated until they actually threaten to hurt themselves or others, but adds it’s not really different from surgeons telling patients they will be on a waiting list for many months. As for suicides, he notes that all doctors lose patients but it’s important to understand whether you could have done anything differently.

As for his own mental health, Dr. Goldbloom has a supportive family, plays the piano and also plays squash to get out his aggression. Humour, for him, is an important part of how he copes with life.

This article was adapted from an article by published in the Globe and Mail on Feb. 21, 2016.