Are you considering seeing a psychiatrist? Well, there are a few things you should consider before doing so.
1. We are unable to read your mind. Although mind reading would be useful and make our job much easier, we cannot know what is going on unless you tell us. If you have an issue, you must tell us. Unfortunately, many people visit a psychiatrist’s office thinking that the psychiatrist will immediately know what is wrong with them. In reality, it can take months to fully understand a problem. Most of the time I can diagnose a patient after a couple of visits; however, the patient must talk if they expect to get a proper diagnosis and psychiatric help.
2. Psychiatrists are not the same as a social worker, a psychologist or a therapist. Psychiatrists are doctors with medical degrees. A psychiatrist must complete four years of medical school and complete a residency in psychiatry. In addition to this, the psychiatrist will also do a fellowship in their chosen field such as child psychiatry or psychopharmacology. The psychiatrist will learn how the mind and body interact so they can rule out physical illnesses, disorders and diseases that may cause a mental illness. For example, a patient with a hyperactive thyroid can experience panic attacks, anorexia, insomnia and anxiety. The psychiatrist may want blood tests to check a patient’s thyroid levels or refer the patient to an endocrinologist if the psychiatrist believes that the patient’s symptoms are a result of a hyperactive thyroid.
4. Psychiatrists cannot date their patients, go out for coffee or socialize with their patients. There may be a rare exception to this; however, psychiatrists must maintain appropriate boundaries to protect themselves and their patients. Many patients feel extremely close to their psychiatrist once they reveal painful and intimate details; however, a psychiatrist’s ethics prevents them from socializing with you. When boundaries are violated, a patient can be harmed, healing can halt and a psychiatrist can be sued or lose their license. The only exception is when a psychiatrist shares a meal with a schizophrenic patient who is not communicating in any way.
5. Psychiatrists are available around the clock, whenever there is an emergency. Like most doctors, you will be able to get in touch with your psychiatrist if you are feeling desperate or suicidal, have a reaction to a medication or have drunk or used a drug after you have been sober for a period of time. Typically, we will ask you to call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for help.
6. Psychiatrist continues to learn about the causes of mental disorders. Scientific discoveries are occurring rapidly; however, researchers have not been able to pinpoint the genes that cause depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. For this reason, we may ask questions about your family history and other risk factors to help further the understanding of mental disorders.
7. There is no medical test or lab test that can diagnose depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. We must interview you, spend time talking to your and get your medical history before we can make a proper diagnosis.