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Ratings for Dr. Alexander I. Niss

2
Staff
1
Punctuality
1
Helpfulness
2
Knowledge

This is a long review, but please read! I came to Dr. Niss for the first time suffering from depression. I made an appointment a month in advance. His disorganized staff didn't have my appointment when I showed up. I said in tears I wasn't leaving and they got him to squeeze me in as his last appointment. Immediately, I felt he was mitigating my condition. He compared my symptoms -sadness, anhedonia, fatigue, lack of concentration, etc.- to depressives who can physically hardly move. Because I can still get around, how I'm feeling doesn't matter?? But I rationalized it away. I thought "He's a 71-year-old Russian man. He probably doesn't communicate the same way I would." He recommended Lexapro and I said that I had taken Prozac in the past and it had always worked for me so I'd like to stick with that. He said okay. A day or two later, I had my first what I was pretty sure was a panic attack. It was coming and going all day. I was so distraught that I called him crying, asking if there was any medication that would take effect sooner than the standard 4-6 weeks. He tried to calm me down. "You have to be paaatient," he said. He compared treatment here to treatment "in his country." Sorry but, that's relevant how? He mentioned Desapramine, an older tri-cyclic anti-depressant, which he said can take effect in 2 weeks. So I started taking both Desapramine and Prozac. Over the next week maybe, what I was now SURE were panic attacks got worse. I'd never had them before and was terrified, which of course made them worse. I called again and explained that what I had wasn't working. He repeated patience, some people can't even move, etc. etc. but I stressed that this was a completely new thing for me and that I was having severe trouble coping. He finally understood I was talking about panic attacks and said "Prozac is the WORST medication with anxiety! You insisted on using Prozac and I said no," he repeated. That's nice to throw that in my face, and make it seem like I held a gun to his head! He didn't want to write me yet another prescription but he agreed to call in an order of Ativan (lorazepam, precisely). I picked it up the next morning. I took all 3 medications for 2 weeks. I started to develop a rash that spread very quickly until I ended up completely red, swollen, and itchy within 2 days. I knew it must have been the lorazepam, even though I'd already been taking it for 2 weeks. I called Dr. Niss and told him I suspected I was allergic to it. He was very surprised but after describing my swollen face (clear allergy sign), he told me to stop taking it immediately. With antihistamines, it still took days for the rash to go away. And, of course my panic attacks came back. I asked for another anti-anxiety medication and he explained to me that if I was allergic to Ativan, I was probably allergic to the benzodiazepine family (sort of like penicillin), which are a majority of anti-anxiety meds. I was so desperate one day at work I almost took another pill anyway. I made the soonest appointment I could to get to find another medication. The anxiety was crippling! During the visit, he said how shocked he was. In "all of his years of experience," he never knew of anyone who was allergic to lorazepam. Again, I felt like he was trying to make me feel foolish or like I was imagining things. He prescribed Seroquel, which only helped in short bursts and after another fun conversation, he prescribed me Seroquel XR, which eventually seemed to do the trick. I will say, one good thing he did was, as there was no FDA-approved generic at the time, he gave me as many samples as he could. This did save me at least a hundred dollars. At his new location -where he was still up to 45 minutes late for EVERY appointment- during each visit, he mentioned for no reason my allergy to benzodiazepines. I mentioned that I was having trouble sleeping again. He prescribed me something (can't remember what) saying it helps a lot of people. I got the prescription filled. At this point, I was sick of his constant lateness and attitude. I was lucky to find another psychiatrist who was able to see me almost right away. VERY lucky it turns out. Dr. Carol Brady (highly recommend!) asked me more in my first visit than Dr. Niss ever did and never questioned my allergy to benzos. At the very end of my appointment, I mentioned the new sleeping meds Dr. Niss had prescribed me. "I'm pretty sure that's a benzodiazepine," she said. She quickly looked it up on her phone and sure enough, it was. With every exposure to an allergen, the reaction gets worse. If I had actually TAKEN that medication, it's possible that I could have gone into anaphylactic shock or even died!!! That may be an exaggeration but, after mentioning it during almost every single visit and being so skeptical initially, I can't believe he was so absent-minded. He put my health -mental AND physical- in serious jeopardy. I don't wish that on anyone.

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flag | Submitted April 12, 2018

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