Q) What does a psychiatrist do?
A) A psychiatrist is a physician (MD or DO) who is specialized to treat mental health disorders. They are qualified to treat both mild and severe forms of mental illness by means of psychotherapy, medications, or both. A psychiatrist has gone through the arduous process of medical school, and residency so that they are knowledgeable of human physiology, anatomy, and pathology, and how they interact with your mental life. Psychiatrists should be able not only to prescribe medication, but explain, in terms you can understand, how the medication works, its expected benefits, possible side effects, and how it may affect other health conditions or the activity of other meds you may be taking.
Q) How can you help me?
A) Whether you are suffering from a mental disorder such as depression, anxiety, etc, or simply wish to work on a specific issue in your social, occupational, spiritual, or sexual life, I can help. If depression or other disorder is having an impact on your relationships, your work, or even your ability to care for yourself, medication can provide much needed relief. I will be able to determine if there is any underlying medical condition that might be affecting your emotional well being, and recommend an appropriate treatment. In psychotherapy, I will provide a safe nurturing environment for you to openly discuss what is bothering you. I can help you gain insight into your personality, your development, your habits, and with that insight, lays the capacity to change.
Q) Will I be prescribed medications?
A) Not necessarily. Medications are prescribed only in situations where mental symptoms are causing significant distress, or are having negative impacts on your relationships, your physical health, your work etc. Sometimes, psychotherapy alone will suffice. Also, treatment with psychiatric medications requires a great deal of discipline on the client’s part, and not everyone is a good candidate. After a thorough evaluation, we will discuss together whether or not medications are right for you. For more information please see Services Provided.
Q) Will I become dependent on medications?
A) This is a common question among clients, and it is understandable you may have this concern. Contrary to popular belief, most psychiatric medications do not cause physical dependence. Use of certain sedative medications, and stimulants used to treat ADHD, can lead to tolerance, and possibly physical dependence. However with close follow-up and strict adherence to guidelines, the risk of dependence can be minimized. We can discuss your concerns more in detail at our initial visit.
That being said, depending on the severity and chronicity of your condition, you may need to take medications on a long term basis. Disorders such as depression, anxiety, may require medication up to a year or longer. More chronic conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia will likely require longer term therapy.
Q) Can I continue seeing my current therapist?
A) Yes! If you are already in a productive therapeutic relationship with a therapist, you should continue seeing them, and I can see you only for medication management. I do make an effort to collaborate with your therapist (with your consent) to minimize miscommunications, and ensure the most effective treatment.
Q) What can I expect at my initial visit?
A) At your initial visit, I will conduct a comprehensive review of your current complaints. We will discuss your emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms, and how they may be impacting your life. Be as open and honest as possible. We will review your past experiences in the mental health system, and any medications you’ve taken in the past. We will evaluate any current medical conditions you may have, and review your current medications. Please bring all medications you are taking in their bottles, including pills, eye drops, patches, injections, and suppositories.
Also please bring any vitamin supplements, herbal remedies and hormonal remedies you may be taking. Your family’s psychiatric and medical histories will be reviewed. Then we will discuss your social history including your childhood development, education, occupational history, relationships, and any substance use. At the end of this very detailed discussion, I will likely have some initial impressions of your diagnosis and possible treatments, and will discuss these with you. I may ask you to get some routine blood tests done, to determine if there is any medical reason for your symptoms. Finally we will discuss your goals for treatment, and the structure of your therapy (frequency and duration of visits, payment, etc.) Sometimes it will take more than one session to arrive at a diagnosis or effective treatment plan.
Q) How do I get started?
A) Call my office line at (949) 701-1528 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know that you are interested in an evaluation. Leave your name, contact number, best time to call, and a brief description of your complaints. I will contact you to set up an appointment. Prior to your scheduled visit, please take a few minutes to download, print, and fill in all the necessary forms located here. If you wish to complete the forms at the office, I ask that you come in 20-30 minutes early to allow you sufficient time.
Q) What makes a good psychiatrist?
A) Your initial visit with any mental health professional is a good opportunity for you to “try them on for size.” You should never settle for a psychiatrist if you don’t feel comfortable with them. The quality of a therapeutic relationship is one of the most important factors in determining your success in therapy. To evaluate your goodness-of-fit with a psychiatrist, you should look at the following factors:
- The psychiatrist’s ability to listen empathically to your concerns
- Their warmth and ease of communication
- Their competence in current psychiatric diagnosis, and treatments
- Their knowledge of psychiatric literature, and current research
- Their ability to communicate your diagnosis and possible treatments in terms you can understand
- Their knowledge of risks, benefits, and alternatives to any treatment they recommend
- Their professionalism
- Their promptness, punctuality, and responsiveness to concerns that arise outside of the office
- Do they allow you to voice your concerns?
- Most importantly, are you comfortable with this person?
Q) Why don’t you accept insurance?
A) There are several reasons. First, in my experience, I find that insurance companies’ restrictions on types of treatment, number of sessions, and medication formularies, interfere with effective treatment. My goal is to determine the most effective treatment for your condition rather than what is in the insurance provider’s best interest.
Second, insurance companies often require physicians to disclose identifying information about your diagnosis, and treatment in order to cover your expenses. Once in their hands, they can share that information with other organizations. Three, insurance companies demand a great deal of paperwork, and other administrative activities that take away time from providing effective care.
What I will do is provide you with a statement of the services you receive, and their fee. You may submit this to your insurance company for reimbursement. Many PPO’s will reimburse between 20-60% of the fee. Please check with your insurance provider to determine their mental health benefits, and policies regarding out-of-network providers.