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Benefit of Seeing a Psychiatrist

What’s the Benefit of Seeing a Psychiatrist as Opposed to a Psychologist, a Nurse Practitioner or a Social Worker?

Sometimes medical problems masquerade as a psychiatric problem, and you want a medical professional who can help you know the difference. Sometimes low mood can actually be caused by other medications you are taking or other diagnoses that you have. On several occasions in my 20 years of practice I have discovered an underlying illness or imbalance that was causing symptoms which looked like or felt like depression. This is so important because there’s no reason to treat depression when the problem is really something medically treatable such as low testosterone, anemia, thyroid or adrenal problems, or a host of neurologic or endocrine problems that require medical treatment, not mental health treatment.

Someone once asked me, did I regret having to spend so many years in medical school and internship given that I chose to practice Psychiatry, and this question reflects a real lack of just how “medical” Psychiatry is. No good Psychiatrist should diagnose or treat a problem until they have made sure they are not missing some other medical issue which might be the actual cause. This is a step that really requires the expertise of someone with full medical training, an MD, who is willing to spend the time to be thorough, to make referrals to medical specialists where necessary and review the results with you, to collaborate with other physicians and to evaluate you and your symptoms with an eye towards the whole person and your whole body.

Some of my most gratifying moments as a Psychiatrist have been when a patient’s symptoms don’t quite make sense, but with persistent workup, and collaboration with other medical specialists, a previously undiagnosed medical problem is revealed. In these moments I am so grateful that I was trained at one of the nation’s top medical schools and benefitted from the very best training this country offers. Because without that, an underlying illness might have gone undiagnosed.

These moments don’t happen when you are spending 15 minutes with your psychiatrists at a “pill mill” and walking out with a prescription. Delivering top notch high quality comprehensive care informed by my medical training is a source of great gratification for me.

The Benefits of a Provider Who Does both Medication Management and Therapy

Having a therapist who also went to medical school (as is the case with Psychiatrists) also means the efficiency and convenience of getting all your care in one place instead of you having 2 appointments with 2 different practitioners. It means that you won’t have to complete “release of information” forms and then wait while your therapist and prescriber play phone tag trying to update each other.

I Already Have a Therapist, Can I Still See Dr. Salzer?

Certainly. Many therapists refer their patients to me to see if medication might help. Or to get a second opinion on whether the approach they are taking is the best one. If you are already in treatment but are not sure it’s helping, or helping enough, I welcome the opportunity to put “fresh eyes” on the situation, to hear about what is and what may not be working in your therapy. I am happy to collaborate with your current therapist on novel treatment approaches which might be of benefit or even to rethink the medications you have been on to see if there might be a better fit.

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