Finding A Psychiatrist: 10
Factors To Consider
a psychiatrist may seem daunting at first, but if you consider the 10
factors below, I am sure that you will find a psychiatrist who can help
you with your depression.
But before I jump into the
details, let me say this...
are some differences between seeing a psychologist and a
reason why I am sharing my experiences in finding a psychiatrist as
opposed to a psychologist is for the simple reason that during my 20
years of depression, I have mostly dealt with psychiatrists.
means that I am in a great position to share with you the following:
Okay, let get down to business.
my depression journey, I have encountered many other people with
depression, as well as people without a mental illness. Now
reason why I sharing this with you, is that I am amazed at just how few
people really know what a psychiatrist actually does.
example, several people that I have spoken to think that all that a
psychiatrist does is write prescriptions for medication, that's it!
this sound at all familiar?
The simple truth is that psychiatrists do so much more
than just dish out medication prescriptions...
psychiatrists are medical doctors whose speciality is in mental health
(depression is just one area of mental health that they specialise in).
What this means is that they
may use treatments such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy¹,
Interpersonal Therapy ² and
they are allowed to prescribe medication.
Factors That You Should Consider When Finding A Psychiatrist:
1. For a start, you
will most likely need to get a referral
letter from your general practitioner. But don't
worry, most general practitioners already have a list of their favorite psychiatrists
whom they can refer you to.
use the work "favorite" as your doctor is a great resource for
recommendations as their patients often give them feedback on
which psychiatrists are performing
well. Also your doctor will have heard from other
doctors which psychiatrists get good feedback.
2. Make it clear to
your doctor whether
you prefer seeing a male or female psychiatrist.
I say this because when I was referred to my very first
psychiatrist, he was a male and I did not feel comfortable with him (or
the next 2 male psychiatrists!).
really is a personal choice. For me, I find that I am able to
more open and say what I want to say with a female psychiatrist than I
could with a male one.
3. Once you have a
referral, phone the psychiatrist's office and make an
Please do not be discouraged if you have to wait several
prior to getting an appointment as that seems to be the standard time
4. At your first
appointment (usually about 1 hour) with your psychiatrist, it
is really a get to know you appointment. The psychiatrist will ask you many
questions so that they can better
understand you and what your expectations are regarding seeing them. It
is unlikely that any CBT will take place at this initial appointment.
5. Now, please pay
close attention to this factor when finding a psychiatrist.
Even though you may have had to wait a couple of weeks for
appointment, but you don't feel comfortable with the psychiatrist for ANY reason - don't feel
obliged to see them again.
6. Believe me,
during the past 20 years, I have had to see more psychiatrists than I care to
remember, before I found one who I could work with and trust. The
defining factor in every one of my first appointments was this:
"Is this psychiatrist listening to me?"
I felt that they weren't, then I would swiftly move on to the next psychiatrist.
point here is that if a psychiatrist
is not listening to you, then how on earth can they talk to you about
how you feel and what issues you may have. The answer is
will let you in on a secret...
is just like any profession, there are great people and then there are
some very ordinary individuals.
My advice to you is don't give
and see someone else. I am well aware that it may be
difficult for you to deal with your feelings and finding
who you enjoy talking to - but it's well worth it to
7. At your first
suggest that you bring up the issue of privacy.
How best to approach this? Well, I got my psychiatrist to agree that any
information that I provide during an appointment is private.
Seriously, you should know
those rights include your psychiatrist keeping what you tell them
confidential, unless you give them express permission to waive that
It would be amiss of me if I did not point out that there are very limited circumstances
where they can break this confidentiality.
a court of law orders them to provide information, or
the psychiatrist believes that you or someone
else is at risk of serious harm.
I urge you not to let these
rare circumstances deter you from finding a psychiatrist. In
over 20 years, my information has never been shared with anyone without
8. Another factor
to consider in finding a psychiatrist, is the cost.
Now I know that this information may not be relevant to those
of you outside of Australia, but for my fellow Aussies, I would like to share the
options with you.
Australia, if you see a psychiatrist who works at a community
health centre or for the government in a hospital, then you won't have
to pay anything.
who work privately, may ask that you pay their fees after each
be afraid to ask them how much they charge and if you will get
a Medicare rebate. There are some psychiatrists that
billing means that you sign a Medicare form at the psychiatrist's office and
he or she sends the form to Medicare to get paid for their
services. All you need to do is give them your Medicare
9. Let's say that you have
applied the 8 factors above in finding a psychiatrist who you are
Good on you - I mean
that! You are well on your way to managing your depression.
most people the urge to resist medication is very strong - I am one of
So when my psychiatrist (number 5 or 6,
I forget !), discussed prescribing an anti-depressant for me, I
was totally against it.
if I had to take anti-depressants then that must mean that I am not
boy, how naive I was back then!
have since learnt that taking anti-depressants is a very effective way
to manage my depression - in fact, I would go so far as to say that
anti-depressants have saved my life...literally.
know that is a bold statement, but it happens to be true.
seeing a psychiatrist AND taking my medication, there is no way that I
would have the great quality of life that I have now.
filled with hope, joy, laughter, love and so much more.
10. This factor follows on
from factor 9. Once you have gone through the necessary steps
for find a psychiatrist,
important to take their advice - they are the experts
if you don't agree or understand their advice, then tell them.
This will give the psychiatrist
an opportunity to explain their reasoning and thoughts on why CBT, IPT
and/or medication would be suitable for you.
Even though your psychiatrist
is an expert in their field, that does not mean that you can't disagree
with them or ask questions.
never hesitate to tell my psychiatrist
if I disagree with her - this really opens up the lines of
communication and provides a healthy therapeutic environment.
that's it! See it really is not that difficult finding a
psychiatrist, just keep these 10 factors in mind and I am sure that you
will find a great psychiatrist.
You CAN do it!
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
is one of the most effective
that the way people think affects the way they feel. CBT teaches people
to think rationally about common problems and helps a person
change their thought patterns and their reaction to certain situations.
In addition, CBT helps people manage negative thoughts and
involves looking at a person's behaviour.
² Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
is used to help people with depression to look at ways to get
along with other people - as a depressed person
may be upset
easily by other people's comments. For example, they may feel that
another person is judging or criticizing them when this is not the
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