I love psychiatrists. I consult with them, learn jokes about Freud from them, and love collaborating on patient care with them. They are the yin to my yang, the coffee to my donut. We tag team mental health problems with a 1 -2 punch with the best proven approach to mental health problems: psychotherapy + medications.
Did you know that psychiatrists are some of the most under-utilized mental health professionals? One in 7 American adults are prescribed psychotropic medications! In 2007, it was cited that a staggering 9 million Americans were taking psychotropic medications. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people are not under the care of a psychiatrist.
Currently, most folks get their medications from their primary care provider. If this describes you, don’t be alarmed. In many cases this is totally appropriate and is a responsible approach to mental health care. For example, for the mildly depressed woman with a few straight-forward symptoms (such as lack of energy, dysphoric mood, and frequent tearfulness), a primary care doctor is certainly qualified to provide psychiatric medications to manage your symptoms.
Most women experience mental health symptoms that are not so cut and dry. I do think there is a cost to you, the consumer, if you continue to receive psychiatric care by someone who is not a psychiatrist.
Think about it – do you see a cardiologist for a broken leg? No! Do you see a therapist for a tumor? Absolutely not. Therefore, I have developed the following motto with my patients over the years: If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms that aren’t improved by a short term trial of medication by your primary care provider, you should seek the expertise of a psychiatrist along with psychotherapy. Further, any woman who is experiencing more than straightforward anxiety or depression deserves the expert care of a psychiatrist.
Dr. Rose’s Medication Motto
"If you’re experiencing mental health symptoms that aren’t improved by a short term trial of medication by your primary care provider, you deserve the expertise of a psychiatrist."
Here are my top reasons why someone should see a psychiatrist as they consider taking medications for their mental health symptoms:
1. Psychiatric care is complementary to our faith, not in opposition to it.
Sisters, please hear me: depression and anxiety are not the result of your failings as a believer. For most women, symptoms of depression or anxiety emerge due to a complex combination of reasons, including brain chemical deficits, poor psychological coping, trauma, and negative thoughts which get repeated over time.
The Lord doesn't wish your suffering: If you’ve been holding off on getting mental health care, hoping that prayer journaling and church attendance will fix the problem, begin to ask yourself if this has been helping your mental health symptoms.
Jesus came to heal us body, soul, and mind. And sometimes, he does that through the capable hands of a helping professional.
Seeking psychiatric or psychological care doesn’t mean you don’t trust in Christ. It means that you have decided to partner with Him in seeking mental healing.
2. Psychiatry visits can jump start and improve your progress in therapy.
Typically, psychiatrists don’t provide psychotherapy but provide their valuable medical expertise to addressing psychiatric conditions and provide excellent real-world advice. They understand how other physical conditions can impact mental health, and have the resources to dive deeper into your medical history to ensure that they address any medical causes to your symptoms. For example, many women have thyroid imbalance, resulting in psychological problems. This root cause can go undetected for years without a fine tooth comb that psychiatrists often provide.
They also are aware of new medications and how to augment medication effectiveness safely with additional medications and/or treatments. They can provide you excellent referrals to trusted therapists and oversee your progress.
As experts, they truly do know their psychotropic medications and can offer a much more refined approach to these medications when compared to their primary care doc counterparts.
3. Psychiatric offices are designed to safely manage mental health problems, whereas primary care offices aren’t.
Whether it’s after-hours call line, crisis protocols, or the flexibility to fit you in same-day, I believe you get a higher level of care for those times when you just need more from your doctor.
It may seem obvious, but mental health medications often require “tweaking” of the dosage to get the best effect. Instead of losing months and months trying to go about this process with your general practitioner (and losing patience), a psychiatric provider can provide this tapering or titrating of medications readily and efficiently.
4. Psychiatrists are up-to-date on the latest and greatest, and give you more access to treatments that may help you find relief.
There are all sorts of new psychiatric treatments out there. One that comes to mind is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It’s a non-invasive and exciting treatment that targets stubborn “treatment-refractory” depression (meaning, depression that hasn't improved with a few medication trials). Often, a psychiatrist’s referral is required for insurance to pay for this treatment. When you have your psychiatrist already in your corner, it's much easier to start new forms of care.
How do you go about finding a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse-practitioner?
Run a quick google search and read provider reviews, check your parish or church bulletin, check Psychology Today, or the American Psychiatric Association. Only see a psychiatrist who provides their biography online. I refer patients to psychiatrists who meet the following criteria: 1) the provider has completed an ACGME-accredited residency in psychiatry and 2) is board certified in psychiatry.
I hope this offers you some guidance and clarity on the importance of psychiatric care. Please send me feedback and questions. I love hearing from you!
Wishing you a grace-filled mind, Dr. Rose
Disclaimer: The above information is educational in nature and not intended as medical advice or meant to replace medical advice and care.
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