Despite the fact that tens of millions of Americans see a therapist or physciatrist every year, it can be difficult for people to ask for help. Social stigma or simple misunderstandings about what counseling or psychiatry involves often hold people back from seeking the services they need.
Here at Family Psychiatry and Therapy, we want to help dispel the myths and misunderstandings that can surround mental health care. Most of us will at some point need to see a doctor for a persistent issue, and have no problem doing so. The same thing applies to mental health, and it’s time everyone gets the care they need, when they need it. Below are some of the reasons people may seek mental health care and some of the commonly-asked questions.
Reasons for a Consultation
You do not need a diagnosed mental health condition to get a consultation. There are many reasons to seek an appointment that range from life stressors (such as losing a loved one) to biological imbalances (like a hormonal or chemical deficiency).
Biological mental health triggers can stem from a variety of sources, including hormonal imbalances, inadequate nutrition, physical illness or genetic history.
Depending on the issue, your psychiatrist may prescribe medication. Psychiatrists are better than your regular doctor for these issues because they are most familiar with the condition, medications, possible side-effects, and the other treatments that will help you improve your health.
Sometimes people take medication their entire lives; other times, they only take it for a short period. For instance, while some people may need medication for most of their lives for depression, postpartum depression requires short-term care. The length of time and type of treatment required will be discussed during the consultation.
Psychological reasons for reaching out for help are those life events that leave a lasting mental or emotional effect on an individual such as childhood trauma, and abuse.
In addition to the long-lasting psychological causes listed above, there are also everyday life stress situations that may prompt an individual to turn to counseling for assistance with dealing with their life. Items like a huge promotion, loss of a job, planning a wedding, and death of a loved one, among other ordinary life events that create more stress than normal are another reason for someone to turn to counseling to cope. These are all temporary situations that can lead a person to feel overextended, overwhelmed, or burdened leading to depression, anxiety or in some cases suicidal tendencies that require immediate short term treatment.
Social reasons for choosing to see a psychiatrist or counselor are linked to an individual feeling helpless or repressed due to cultural differences, perceived prejudice concerns, or dysfunctional family problems.
These kinds of situations often leave an individual feeling angry, depressed, or invisible due to the interactions that they are experiencing with those around them. A psychiatric consultation will delve into what is happening in the patient’s life and what their responses to these situations have been to provide the patient with a more comprehensive understanding as to what they are feeling and how their own reactions may be perpetuating these negative encounters. A treatment plan will then be established.
As well as providing an individual with a better understanding of themselves, counseling provides the patient with techniques, tools, and resources to improve their responses, reactions, and life choices.
At times the psychiatric professional may recommend that a patient makes specific changes in their life such as removing toxic individuals from their life, confronting problems that the patient may be ignoring or avoiding, or even changing their environment. These recommendations are all based on the information gathered during the consultation or therapy sessions.
The Difference between a Therapist, Psychologist, and Psychiatrist
All mental health practitioners are required to pass a particular level of schooling before they are legally permitted to meet and counsel patients. The main difference between the different titles is with the amount of education that the practitioner completed and their ability to prescribe medication.
In general terms, a Psychiatrist is a doctor who is legally permitted to diagnose and prescribe medications for treating mental illnesses. Therapists and Psychologist do not have these credentials and are not permitted to prescribe medications.
The difference in prescribing authority makes it necessary for Psychologists or Therapists to refer their patients to a licensed Psychiatrist for a consultation if they think the patient is in need of medication when treating their condition.
A psychiatric consultation will typically consist of a review of the patient’s records that they received from the patient’s original therapist, followed by clarification questions that the doctor may have. After the information gathering process is completed, the Psychiatrist will discuss possible treatment options with the patient outlining the pros and cons of each option, and then an agreeable treatment plan that may or may not include medication will be implemented.
Regular follow-up visits will be required in whatever intervals that the doctor feels will be most beneficial will be necessary to ensure that the treatment plan is working the way it is intended. If it is not, then, adjustments will be made to improve the results being produced.
The Purpose of a Consultation and Treatment
A psychiatric consultation is intended to establish a deeper understanding by both the physician and the patient as to what the patient’s condition is and the type of treatment plan that is required to meet the agreed upon mental health goals as set forth by the information gathered during the doctor and patient consultation.
Psychiatric treatment plans are meant to improve the patient’s quality of life through better social interactions, fewer emotional lows, and elevated physical health. Coping strategies, medications, and an open dialog between the Psychiatrist and the patient are the most common treatment procedures used in the pursuit of these mutual goals.
When to Seek Help
Depression, anxiety, rage and mental or emotional conditions are very real and serious conditions that require professional assistance to treat them. You should seek psychiatric help anytime you find yourself experiencing any impulses, thoughts, or emotional items that leave you feeling out of control, suicidal or overwhelmed.
How to Schedule a Psychiatric Consultation
Before going to a Psychiatrist, you will want to meet with your family doctor for a referral that meets your insurance plan’s coverage requirements. At this point, your doctor will determine if you should see a Therapist or a Psychiatrist and refer you accordingly.
If you prefer not to go to your personal physician for a referral, most insurance plans provide a 1-800 number for their Policyholders to contact them directly for information regarding coverage and the referral process.
After receiving your list of covered practitioners, you will need to call the doctors on the list to confirm that they are accepting new patients. If they are, you should schedule a consultation at that time.
In the event that the list of providers that you received are not accepting new patients or there are none in your area, you can call your insurance back for additional providers that the insurance company will cover under their extenuating circumstances clause. You will need to repeat the process of verifying that the new doctors listed are accepting new patients.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Miller, contact our office at 201-977-2889