Did you know that mental illness affects millions of people in the US, but only about half of them receive proper treatment?
The most common types of mental disorders diagnosed are:
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depression
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Eating disorders (Anorexia, Bulimia)
- Personality disorders
- Anger Management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Depression anxiety
Additionally, patients can suffer from more than one disorder at the same time. These conditions are most commonly comorbid:
- Substance abuse
Psychiatry is a specialized medical field consisting of doctors who have completed medical school. Psychiatric nurse practitioners also assist patients when it comes to psychiatry. Psychiatry offers many solutions for patients including, but not limited to, talk therapy, medication management and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
1. List Down Potential Psychiatrists In Your Area
There are several ways to discover your nearby psychiatrists, starting with a basic online search. Enter “psychiatrist near me,” and your search engine will bring up a list of practitioners near your location. You can further narrow your search by including search queries such as adult psychiatry, pediatric psychiatry, etc.
To refine your search, you can also use a specialized psychiatry directory such as:
These directories only list qualified psychiatrists with certifications from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and other approved organizations.
You can also ask for referrals from your friends and family. Your primary healthcare physician can also recommend psychiatrists within your insurance network—the bigger your initial list, the greater the chance of finding the right psychiatrist.
2. Create a Screening Checklist
The next step is to select the ideal psychiatrist or nurse practitioner according to your needs. Your screening checklist should include the psychiatrist’s insurance, education, affiliations, and areas of expertise.
Your ideal caregiver should have a level of experience that you are comfortable with. There should also be no disciplinary actions or lawsuits associated with them that might concern you. Also, read their journal publications and clinical studies to ensure they specialize in relevant areas for you.
3. Schedule a Consultation
At this point, you have a handful of psychiatrists that meet all your requirements on paper. Book an initial appointment with your selected psychiatrists to gather more information about them.
You can easily book an appointment online and chat with the psychiatrist or nurse practitioner through a video interview via Zoom or FaceTime. However, find out in advance about any session fees or reduced rates for initial consultations.
During this initial session, you want to assess if you feel comfortable talking to each practitioner and if their proposed course of action resonates with your needs. When you interview your potential psychiatrist, find out:
4. Their Professional Background
Learn about your psychiatrist’s educational background and credentials. Remember, the main difference between a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist is their ability to prescribe drugs for psychological conditions like major depression, generalized anxiety, etc. Ensure you’re working with a psychiatrist that can provide all levels of care that you need.
Keep in mind that mental health disorders can have both biological and psychological causes. Your psychiatrist should be willing to collaborate with your primary physician, therapist, and any other caregivers to ensure a holistic approach.
a) Their Treatment Approach
There are many ways of diagnosing and treating mental health problems, from counselling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and other specialized methods.
In many cases, treatment combinations are used depending on the cause and severity of mental distress. For example, if you experience heightened anxiety or depression due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, your psychiatrist may recommend psychodynamic psychotherapy. This method improves the overall quality of life for patients long after the therapy has ended. They may also decide to prescribe you medication to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Learn about the techniques that your psychiatrist uses and how they measure progress in their treatments. This should align with how you measure treatment effectiveness for yourself.
b) Their Typical Types of Patients
Every psychiatrist has their style of working with their patients. Ask your shortlisted psychiatrist directly about the type of patients they typically work with. You will learn a lot about their communication style and specializations from how they answer this question.
One might tell you that they prefer open, honest patients who are forthright with their doctors. Another may first ask you to describe your ideal psychiatrist and then conform their answer to your needs. Either way, you will be to tell which psychiatrist best fits your personality and presenting concerns.
c) Their Assessment Methods
Why do patients seek out psychiatrists? The simple answer is to address all psychological challenges that interfere with their quality of life. You definitely want to know that your treatments are actually working for you or not.
Ask your psychiatrist to explain their treatment plan, challenges, and timeline during this initial appointment. Therapy and psychiatric treatment is a long-term process, so learning about the course of treatment will help you manage your expectations.
Take your time and do your research about your future psychiatrist. You deserve the best care possible to help you maximize your quality of life. Pay attention to your intuition when meeting with your potential psychiatrist. Choose the psychiatrist who makes you feel validated and offers a reasonable treatment plan that promotes your wellbeing.
Dr. Julia Evans, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and owner of Brain Wellness Institute (BWI). Dr. Evans specializes in neuropsychological evaluation, cognitive rehabilitation, and psychotherapy. She obtained her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Loma Linda University and completed her fellowship at UCLA. She completed pre-doctoral internship at Vanderbilt University and Bachelor’s degree from USC.
BWI’s practice includes a variety of clinicians, from psychologists and psychiatrists to nurse practitioners and licensed marriage and family therapist as well as advanced doctoral trainees. Our providers are active members of the mental health community, participating in many different associations such as the American Psychological Association and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
Our office is located at 940 South Coast Drive, Suite 225, in Costa Mesa, California. We can be reached by phone at (949) 743-1457, by fax at (949) 274-8299 or by email at email@example.com.
BWI has many working relationships with other practices in the area including Hoag, Kaiser Permanente, Harbor Psychiatry/Harbor Mental Health, The Gateway Institute, SoCal TMS, A New Era TMS, Community Psychiatry, Greenbrook TMS, Psychology Today, Rogers Healthcare, Restoration Healthcare, The Mental Health Collective, Allied Psychological Services, TMS Health and Wellness and many others.