How do I find the right psychiatrist?
Updated on March 12, 2023
How do I find a psychiatrist with and without insurance?
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If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress and feel that medication can help you, you may want to see a psychiatrist. If you don't know where to start, you are not alone. Here are some ways to support your journey.
There are several resources - online, in your community and through your primary care physician - that can help point you in the right direction.
Before we get started, it is important to note that psychiatrists are different from other mental health professionals. Unlike psychologists and other therapists, psychiatrists are physicians, so during your appointment they will assess for concurrent medical diagnoses and then can prescribe and monitor psychotropic medications.
Some psychiatrists specialize only in medication management, while others offer comprehensive services that include:
- Diagnosis of mental illness
- Prescribing and administering medications
- providing therapy
In addition, psychiatrists often have experience with a wide range of medical diagnoses, allowing them to diagnose any additional disorders that may exacerbate symptoms.
Psychiatrists usually approach and treat mental health problems from a biological perspective, in addition to psychosocial approaches.
Psychiatrists must have one of two medical degrees: MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), as well as advanced standing through a 4-year residency and specialization in psychiatry.
These physicians have training in various fields such as genetics, neurology, biochemistry, psychology, etc.
Psychiatric specialties include:
- geriatric psychiatry
- Child and adolescent psychiatry
- forensic psychiatry
- sleep medicine
Psychiatrists vs. psychologists
Psychologists assess, diagnose and treat mental health symptoms by examining the person's history and current problems and identifying existing symptoms. The psychologist then establishes a diagnosis and creates a treatment plan that includes the recommended number of sessions, treatment goals, and steps to achieve them. This plan will be reviewed frequently by the psychologist and the client to check progress.
Psychologists can provide interventions and training in ways to reduce negative thinking and identify undesirable behaviors. Often psychologists work together with a psychiatrist (sometimes in the same office and sometimes in different offices) if the person needs medication and follow-up medication.
Psychologists must have a Ph.D. and usually specialize in a particular field. For example, they may have a marriage and family therapy (MFT) license, which requires a master's degree, and doctoral-level psychological training, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). They must also have appropriate state licenses and certifications for the therapies they offer.
Psychologists work in the same settings as psychiatrists, such as clinics, private practices and schools.
Psychologists often use different types of therapy to identify and treat mental health symptoms. Some types they may use include:
Psychiatrists vs. therapists
A therapist focuses on exploring the big picture of your life and mental state and helping you express and deal with your feelings constructively. They help you make helpful decisions and use talk therapy to provide support.
Therapists (sometimes called counselors) may have education and training in psychology. Or they may study:
- child development
- social work
Therapists can be:
- Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC)
- Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs)
- Psychologists (PhD or PsyD)
- Psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs)
- psychiatrists (MD)
Consult a general practitioner or other health care professional
If you are first interested in mental health issues, it is best to talk to a doctor or therapist. They can recommend a psychiatrist or help you find one who deals specifically with your problems.
Psychiatrists can provide comprehensive treatment, including psychotherapy and medication. However, if you already have a therapist you like and want to stay with, many psychiatrists can work with your therapist.
But if you do not have a regular doctor or therapist, you can always go to the clinic, talk to a medical professional and ask him for a referral.
Checking municipal clinics
If there is a community mental health clinic in your area, there may be a patient care coordinator there and they can help you.
Look for psychiatrists based on their specialty and area of expertise
When looking for a psychiatrist, it is important to find a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis or problem for which you are seeking help.
It may also be important for you to find a psychiatrist who has worked with others with similar backgrounds to yours or who is easy to talk to about your perspective.
If you are uninsured, Magawi says the first step should be to contact your local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) representative. They can help you find affordable mental health care in your area.
She also recommends contacting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a reliable resource you can use to find affordable mental health care, including psychiatrists and therapists who accept Medicaid.
Most regions also have federally funded medical clinics that you can visit or call.
Another resource for free clinics is the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics, Magawi says.
"In addition, some educational and academic institutions offer discounts on a variety of treatments, including pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy," she said.
Magawi advised veterans to contact Giving Hour, a national nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential mental health care to those who serve, veterans and their families.
Finally, if your employer offers an employee assistance program, ask about the number of sessions your plan covers.
Several health insurance plans cover mental health treatment. The first thing you need to do is look at your plan's benefit description and determine if you have coverage for mental health treatment.
Then figure out what is actually covered. Try to determine:
- how many sessions are covered
- coverage rate
- In-network and out-of-network costs
- Do you need a referral from a primary care physician
- the cost of the deductible before insurance coverage
- any maximum amounts for out-of-network physicians
You have several ways to find a psychiatrist depending on your insurance.
If you haven't already chosen a provider, you can call the benefits office and ask about providers in your area. They should have a list of preferred providers and facilities that accept your insurance. They can also answer any questions you have about benefits and costs.
If you decide on a psychiatrist, call the office and ask if he accepts your insurance.
The Department of Health and Human Services has
If you prefer to communicate with a psychiatrist online, there are a number of quality telemedicine networks that offer this service.
Doctor on call
Doctor on Demand offers a wide range of mental health support services with the help of psychiatrists from various disciplines and specialties. The cost of the appointment is $299 for an initial consultation and $129 for each follow-up appointment.
Doctor On Demand psychiatrists may prescribe certain medications at their discretion if the medications are not on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Schedule I-V or require an in-person psychiatric visit in your area.
Lemonaid offers a variety of mental health services, including those designed to help:
- Health and wellness
The fee for a consultation is usually $25, which includes the evaluation and prescription, but does not include the cost of your medications. Services, such as those for depression and anxiety, cost a flat monthly fee (contact Lemonaid to clarify this), which includes counseling and the medications they prescribe and deliver.
Available recipes include:
- Cialis daily
- Ortho Tri-cyclen Lo
Other resources to help you get started with teletherapy include:
Child and adolescent psychiatrists specialize in general psychiatry, but they also have additional training to address the mental health needs specific to children and adolescents.
In addition to diagnosing mental illness, they can also prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) website has a tool that allows you to find psychiatrists who have reported to AACAP that they provide psychiatric care to children and adolescents.
If finding a child and adolescent psychiatrist in your area is difficult, you may want to see a child psychologist or marriage and family therapist, as they are also trained to work with children and families. This first step may help in identifying other sources of treatment for medication.
Mental health professionals specialize in treating certain illnesses, as well as the type of therapy they provide. If you are seeking help for depression, you should ask what kind of treatment they use.
Some of the most common types of psychotherapy for depression include:
"One of the most important factors -- beyond proper medication selection -- for the prognosis of depression is called the therapeutic alliance," says Julian Lagoy, MD, a psychiatrist at Mind Path.
According to him, the therapeutic alliance is how well you get along and "get along" with your psychiatrist.
Lagoy says the following objective points should be considered when choosing a psychiatrist to treat depression:
- Check out the reviews about them online. But be careful, because sometimes people write bad reviews for no reason. Although Lagoy noted that persistent negative reviews can be a red flag.
- Talking to a trusted family member or friend. It can be helpful if you have a trusted family member or friend who has experience with a psychiatrist and can make a good recommendation based on their treatment experience.
- Finding a psychiatrist who combines therapy and medication. Lagoy recommends looking for a psychiatrist who likes to do therapy in addition to medication. "That's an indication that he has a good, caring character, and you're likely to have a good therapeutic alliance," he said.
The only way to know if a psychiatrist is right for you," Lagoy says, "is to meet with him.
"Sometimes a psychiatrist looks great on paper, but then when you meet him, he's just not right for you," he said.
However, the reverse can also be true: The psychiatrist may look just fine on paper, but feel that you are a strong match because you "click" when you meet, he added.
The best thing you can do is try to find someone on paper who you think would be a good fit for you, and then meet with them in person to make a decision.
"You want to be able to establish a trusting relationship with a psychiatrist and find common ground with them, but you also want the psychiatrist to be intelligent and have up-to-date knowledge," Lagoy says.
"You should feel that the psychiatrist hears you and appreciates you, and feel comfortable giving your concerns and feedback," Magawi says. For example, if a medication isn't working for you, the psychiatrist should take note and make adjustments accordingly, Magawi says.
Find a psychiatrist who can relate to you and understand your point of view.
Lagoy says signs that it may be time to change mental health professionals include the following:
- doesn't listen
- Doesn't give good advice
- incompetent, rude, arrogant or disrespectful
Here are some tips and recommendations on how to get the most out of working with a therapist:
How do I know when to see a psychiatrist?
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or stress and feel that medication can help you, you may want to consider seeing a psychiatrist. This may work for you if you've already been in contact with a therapist or psychologist, but don't feel you're making enough progress.
How can I find a psychiatrist?
Ask your doctor or general practitioner for a referral (or your clinic if you don't have one), or go to your local mental health facility. You can also search online or in your area for psychiatrists by their specialty and referral. This means doing research and asking questions about your specific circumstances so you can find the right specialist.
What can I expect when I first see a psychiatrist?
At your initial appointment with your psychiatrist, be prepared to discuss your medical history and answer questions about your past and what's going on now. You will discuss what you are experiencing and develop a plan for the future. During all of this, remember that it is perfectly normal and normal to experience different kinds of emotions.
Finding the right psychiatrist or psychotherapist can take some time.
Ask your doctor for a referral or a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation.
Look online for resources to help you find a mental health professional in your area. Also, ask your insurance company for information about coverage and costs.
Working with a mental health expert, such as a psychiatrist, can provide you with a safe environment to address your mental and emotional well-being.
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