Finding a psychiatrist who can provide just the right treatment for your individual situation can be a difficult challenge. You may want to carefully consider how comfortable you will feel with your choice. After all, you are going to be sharing intimate personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Education and training are important too. Make sure the doctor you choose has the right credentials to treat patients with your needs.
The relationship between patient and psychiatrist is a unique partnership that is based on trust, mutual respect and commitment to working toward improving your life. Is the doctor sensitive to your fears? Do you feel accepted for who you are without judgment or bias? Do you feel heard and understood? Do you feel you are being seen as a whole person, not a collection of symptoms? Is the approach when considering treatment alternatives a balanced one? Do you have enough time to have all your concerns addressed?
The psychiatrist you choose should understand that emotional symptoms can affect all aspects of one’s life from thoughts and behavior to the ability to form satisfying relationships with others. Sometimes emotional symptoms can cause one to act contrary to their usual value system, thus affecting a person’s spiritual life as well. Given that each person is unique, psychiatrists should consider genetic influences, temperament (or personality) factors, biological factors, as well as the social environment in which a person lives.
Your psychiatrist should have a comprehensive understanding of your physical and mental state and be skilled in prescribing the best forms of treatment appropriate for your unique circumstances.
The decision to recommend psychotherapy, medication, or both depends on several factors: Is there a prominent biological component that presents as physical symptoms? Has there been a recent loss relating to family, health, education or employment? Has the patient lost a sense of meaning in their life? No one would argue there is a pill that gives brings clarity to one’s purpose in life. Some people may be able to significantly improve emotional symptoms by changing their lifestyle patterns and habits through diet and exercise and making new social connections – without the need for prescription medications.
Many people believe psychiatrists only prescribe medications; this is largely a result of our healthcare system, as some insurance companies split psychotherapy and medication management between two providers due to cost factors. Some managed care companies simply refer to psychiatrists as “prescribers”. But to be fair, there is another factor: this perception may be a result of the advancement of neuroscience, as new technologies have allowed us to visualize functioning of neuroanatomical regions in the brain, giving us insight into how some medications are working to restore normal physiology. Psychiatrists are excited about this, and rightfully so.
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