I saw Dr Walia in late August of 2008. I found him because my primary care physician was no longer comfortable treating my extreme anxiety and depression. Within 15 minutes of meeting me, Dr.Walia declared I was a bipolar, type 2. No diagnostic tests, just a shallow discussion wherein overshopping, insomnia and overeating meant hypomania.
After less than 20 minutes in his office, he gave me a list of five drugs, sent me home and told me to research which drug I wanted to take for my bipolar. At this point I was desperate for the depression to end and did as he asked, despite my husband's early reservations about this unorthodox treatment method. At the time, I had no idea that most bipolar drugs are to treat the hypomania, not the depression, and that anything I took was likely to make things much, much worse.
I picked Geodon because it seemed to have the least side effects among users and he gave me samples. At no time was I weaned off any of my other two meds - I was simply told to stop taking them. Within a few doses, I went psychotic. My husband called him when I had a screaming fit (I have no memory of it) . Dr. Walia called in (60) 1 mg Xanax tablets and Ambien so I could sleep and I was to take the Xanax as needed. I ended up severely addicted to both.
By the third day I could feel what I called snakes moving under my skin and I shook like I had palsy. By the fourth day I spent all day sobbing. My husband took me back in on the fifth day and in the face of all of what was happening to me, Dr Walia said:
""Well, when you take these drugs, you must suffer.""
He added Abilify to the toxic soup and sent me home, telling me that he would add more Geodon when I felt I could manage it. I took one dose of Abilify, my blood pressure plummeted and I passed out. By that point I was actively psychotic, hearing voices and feeling snakes under my skin. I attempted suicide, which I don't recall, and ended up at Austin Lakes until they could get my brain chemistry back to a manageable state.
It took me over a year to rebuild my life from that. I entered Dr. Walia's office a middle aged woman with situational anxiety and depression, and left with a ridiculous diagnosis and scripts for enough medication to kill me, When I went back for help, he told me to suffer. And despite the fact that he had a patient attempt suicide and end up in a locked down psych ward, he never made any contact with me or the doctors who treated me, even though I gave them all his info and signed papers permitting such communication.
No one can diagnose a patient with a mental condition in 15 minutes and anyone who allows patients to play Russian Roulette with their medication, especially with atypical antipsychotics, is poised to do a lot of damage. I was lucky. It's almost impossible to overdose on Ambien. Had I chosen the Xanax it would be a different story.
If you must see him because he is your only option insurance-wise, make sure you research hard and long anything he tells you. If you don't think you are clear enough to do it, get friend, a parent, a spouse, a pastor. If you must see him, be aware of what he is capable of doing when he has a patient too worn down to do much homework.
Oh, and I also had lots of trouble with his secretary but really, she was the least of my problems.