In my journey through depression, I have met many other people with depression, as well as people without a mental illness. The reason I am sharing this with you is that I am amazed at how few people really know what a psychiatrist actually does.

For example, some people I’ve talked to think that a psychiatrist just writes prescriptions for medication and that’s it!

The simple truth is that psychiatrists do so much more than just prescribe medication….

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental health (depression is just one area of mental health they specialize in).

This means they can use treatments such as *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) (see the note below this article for definitions of these terms), and they may prescribe medications.

Not all people with depression see a psychiatrist, but from my years of experience (over 20 years!) with depression, I have found that the combination of seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants works best for managing my depression.

Factors to consider when looking for a psychiatrist.

First, you will most likely need a referral from your primary care physician. But don’t worry, most primary care physicians already have a list of their preferred psychiatrists to refer you to. I use the word “preferred” because your doctor is an excellent source of referrals, as he often gets feedback from his patients about which psychiatrists work well. Also, your doctor will have heard from other doctors which psychiatrists get good feedback.

Make it clear to your doctor whether you would prefer to see a male or female psychiatrist. I say this because the first psychiatrist I was referred to was a man and I didn’t feel comfortable with him (or the next two male psychiatrists!). It’s really a personal choice. I have found that I can be more open and say what I want to say with a female psychiatrist than with a male psychiatrist.

Once you have a referral, call the psychiatrist’s office and make an appointment. Don’t be discouraged if you have to wait several weeks before getting an appointment, as that seems to be the normal time frame.

Your first appointment (which usually lasts about an hour) with your psychiatrist is a get-to-know-you appointment. The psychiatrist will ask you many questions so that he or she can better understand you and what your expectations are for treatment. It is unlikely that CBT will take place at this first appointment.

So pay close attention to this factor when looking for a psychiatrist. Even if you had to wait a few weeks for the appointment and you don’t feel comfortable with the psychiatrist for some reason – don’t feel obligated to see him again.

Believe me, I have seen more psychiatrists than I care to remember over the past 20 years before I found one I could work with and trust. The deciding factor in each of my first appointments was, “Is this psychiatrist listening to me?” If I felt he didn’t, I quickly moved on to the next psychiatrist. My point is, if a psychiatrist doesn’t listen to you, how can they talk to you about how you feel and what problems you may be having. The answer is simple: they can’t! I’ll let you in on a secret… …in psychiatry it’s like any other profession: there are great people and there are ordinary people. My advice to you is: don’t give up! Go to someone else. I realize that it can be difficult for you to deal with your feelings and find someone you like to talk to – but it’s worth persevering.

At your first appointment, I 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 your rights! And those rights include your psychiatrist keeping what you tell them confidential, unless you give them express permission to waive that right. It would be amiss of me if I did not point out that there are very limited circumstances where they can break this confidentiality. These circumstances are: When a court of law orders them to provide information, o If 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 my consent.

Another factor to consider in finding a psychiatrist, is the cost. Don’t be afraid to ask a psychiatrist how much they charge. If you are unable to afford a private psychiatrist, then in most instances 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.

Let’s say that you have applied the 8 factors above in finding a psychiatrist who you are comfortable with. Good on you – I mean that! You are well on your way to managing your depression. For most people the urge to resist medication is very strong – I am one of those people! So when my psychiatrist (number 5 or 6, I forget!), discussed prescribing an anti-depressant for me, I was totally against it. Why? Because if I had to take anti-depressants then that must mean that I am not “normal”! Oh boy, how naive I was back then! I 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. Now I know that is a bold statement, but it happens to be true. Without seeing a psychiatrist AND taking my medication, there is no way that I would have the great quality of life that I have now.

 

I suggest that you address the privacy issue at your first appointment. What is the best way to address this? Well, I got my psychiatrist to agree that any information I give during an appointment is private. Seriously, you should know your rights! And among those rights is that your psychiatrist will keep what you tell him confidential unless you give him explicit permission to waive that right. It would be foolish of me not to point out that there are very limited circumstances in which the psychiatrist can break this confidentiality. Those circumstances are: If a court orders the release of information, o If the psychiatrist believes that you or another person is in danger of serious harm. I urge you not to let these rare circumstances prevent you from seeing a psychiatrist. In more than 20 years, my information has never been shared with others without my consent.

Another factor to consider when looking for a Neurologist in Dubai is cost. Don’t be afraid to ask a psychiatrist how much they charge. If you can’t afford a private psychiatrist, in most cases you won’t have to pay anything if you see a psychiatrist who works at a community health center or for the government at a hospital.

Let’s say you applied the 8 factors above to find a psychiatrist you are happy with. Good for you – I mean that! You are well on your way to getting your depression under control. For most people, the urge to resist medication is very strong – I am one of those people! When my psychiatrist (number 5 or 6, I forget!) was thinking about prescribing me an antidepressant, I was absolutely against it. And why? Because if I had to take antidepressants, that would mean I wasn’t “normal”! Oh man, how naive I was back then! I have since learned that taking antidepressants is a very effective way to manage my depression – I would even go so far as to say that antidepressants saved my life…. literally. I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s true. Without seeing a psychiatrist AND taking my medication, I would never have the great quality of life I have now.

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