Why choose to see a psychiatrist rather than another kind of mental health specialist?
As a psychiatrist, I’m the only member of the mental health team who is trained as a medical doctor. This enables me to draw on a depth of medical knowledge about both biological and psychological issues, and to combine counseling with medication where necessary and appropriate. But to me the most important factor is that I’ve been trained to be able to take responsibility for a patient’s total care, and to lead a mental health team.
Why choose a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist?
Not many psychiatrists go on to pursue advanced training in working with children and teenagers. After psychiatric residency, I completed a special two year fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. Since residency and fellowship, I’ve worked with children and adolescents and adults in a wide variety of settings. I’ve personally treated over 1,000 children with major developmental issues. Many child and adolescent psychiatrists can quote the literature, but fewer have extensive experience with what works and what doesn’t.
When are medications necessary?
Good question! It’s clear that nationwide, psychiatric medication is both over- prescribed and under-prescribed. Before recommending medication, it’s important to do a thorough evaluation of all the medical, psychological, and social factors; to have a full picture of what’s been tried already (medication and non-medication); and to have carefully considered the risks and benefits of both treating and not treating.
I believe that a doctor should get to know a patient well before recommending medication, and should apply the same risk/benefit standard as he’d do with a member of his own family.
Are medications safe?
Another good question! Before any medication is prescribed a full review of the risks/benefits, and alternative treatment options will always be discussed. Although some common mild side effects (headache, nausea, change in sleep and appetite) can occur temporarily they generally subside. Contemporary medications are generally safe in all age groups for short term and long term use.