What Kind of Treatment is Available?
Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments. The range of mental health services include psychiatric evaluations, psychotherapy, medication management and consultations.
Psychotherapy (sometimes called talk therapy) is a treatment that involves a talking relationship between a therapist and patient. It can be used to treat a broad variety of mental disorders and emotional difficulties. The goal of psychotherapy is to eliminate or control disabling or troubling symptoms so you can function better. Depending on the extent of the problem, treatment may take just a few sessions over a week or two or may take many sessions over a period of years. There are many forms of psychotherapy and it can be done individually, with a family, or in a group. Some mental illnesses require limited but ongoing care in order to manage chronic conditions.
Medications are used by psychiatrists in much the same way that medications are used to treat high blood pressure or diabetes. After medical and psychological evaluations, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications to help treat mental disorders. Psychiatric (also called psychotropic) medications can have an effect on brain chemicals (called neurotransmitters) that are thought to be involved in some mental disorders, but can be used for many different purposes. Psychiatrists often use medications in combination with psychotherapy. A patient on long-term medication treatment will need to meet with his or her psychiatrist periodically in order to monitor the effects of medications. These medications can include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers among others.
Light therapy can be used to treat seasonal depression. Deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation are a few of the newer therapies being used to treat some mental disorders. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a medical treatment that involves applying electrical currents to the brain, is used most often to treat severe depression that has not responded to other treatments.
When you visit the psychiatrist, the doctor will ask questions about your background, family, habits, as well as your general health, and will ask why you think you need treatment. Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or a full range of medical, laboratory, and psychological tests which, combined with interviews/discussions with you, help provide a picture of your physical and mental state. Your doctor’s education and years of clinical training and experience equip him or her with the understanding of the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses, to evaluate medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with you to develop a treatment plan.
If you are coming to see us, please bring all your prescriptions (even if they are for other problems) in their bottles so that we can see exactly how they were prescribed. If you have had previous treatment from a psychologist, counselor, or other psychiatrist, please bring those records. If you do not have any records, we may ask you to sign a release so we can talk to the other people who have worked with you, if this is OK with you. In this case, please bring the names and phone numbers of the people who have treated you in the past. It is also very helpful to fill out the initial intake forms available for each provider on the individual provider’s page.
When you’ve found a psychiatrist with whom you are comfortable, you’ve finished the first part of the treatment process. The second part, which is working together with your psychiatrist to understand and manage your problem, is about to begin.