If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other common mental health conditions, you may be wondering how to find a psychiatrist in your area. Finding the services you need can be easy or somewhat more difficult depending on several factors. Below we offer a few suggestions to aid you as you go through this process.
When you’re looking for psychiatry services, the most important thing to remember is that a medical professional is available to help you. Many people have gone through this process of finding psychiatric help. It might feel daunting, but you can find the services you need.
First, you’ll need to get referrals. You could do a basic Google search for “psychiatry near me,” but you’re much better off getting referrals from your primary care doctor, friends, or family.
You may also want to know that some insurance companies require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor for these services to be covered. Check with your insurance company to see this is required by your plan. Even if it’s not required, getting a referral from your doctor lets you know that you’re seeing someone who is qualified.
If you don’t need a formal referral for insurance purposes, getting referrals from friends and family is always a good idea. When someone you know gives you a referral to a psychiatrist, it means that they trust this doctor enough to send you there.
The Psychiatry Shortage
You may discover that you have difficulty searching for psychiatry in your area. According to multiple sources, there is a shortage of psychiatry services across the country, particularly in rural areas.
In this case, you may want to consider telepsychiatry. Studies have shown that telepsychiatry is quite effective and is a good alternative for people who do not have psychiatry services nearby. Telepsychiatry may or may not be covered by insurance, and it may take place in your home or at a local doctor’s office.
Checking Insurance Acceptance and Pricing
The Affordable Care Act requires most group and small private health insurance plans to cover mental health services. If you have a health insurance plan, that plan is likely to cover mental health services at the same copays as your physical health services.
However, many psychiatrists don’t accept health insurance. According to a study by the NIH, approximately 88 percent of psychiatrists nationwide accept health insurance, in certain areas, this percentage is much lower. For example, the percentage of psychiatrists who accept insurance in the Northeast is only 48 percent. It’s approximately 43 percent in the South and 57 percent in the West. The Midwest is the easiest area to get psychiatry services because percentages are closer to the national average.
If you live in an area where most psychiatrists do not accept health insurance, your next step will be to compare prices. Some psychiatrists may charge quite a bit more than others. If you’re concerned about your budget, shop around for the best rates.
Once you find a psychiatrist, you’ll want to research their credentials. If you got a referral from your primary care doctor, the psychiatrist is likely to be licensed and board certified. However, if you got a referral from a friend or relative, you’ll want to check with the Board of Psychiatry to make sure that this psychiatrist is certified and licensed to practice in your state.
Unfortunately, anyone can put up a website and slap a title at the end of their name. If you did a basic online search to find psychiatry services, do your homework and make sure that the person you’ve found is qualified and licensed to practice psychiatry.
If you’re considering seeing a psychiatrist for your mental health concerns, you should set up an interview with them first. Make an initial appointment and determine if you can work with the doctor before committing to a treatment plan. Most doctors have an intake appointment where they get to know you and your situation, talk about payment options, and lay out a treatment plan.
Use this intake appointment to interview the psychiatrist and make sure you feel comfortable with them. You must get personal with your psychiatrist for services to be effective, it won’t work if you don’t feel good about working with them.
If you dislike a doctor or find their care wanting, it’s perfectly acceptable to switch medical practitioners. There is no shame in leaving a doctor for valid reasons, but don’t let it stop you from getting the help you need; do make the effort to find someone else. You’ll find tips on evaluating your psychiatrist below.
Good Listening and Observation Skills
It’s important that your psychiatrist has good listening and observation skills. Being a good listener isn’t just about hearing what you have to say. It’s about really paying attention and taking what you’re telling them into account.
If your psychiatrist isn’t a good listener and doesn’t notice when you’re feeling anxious or depressed, they’re not going to be able to treat your condition. Also, if they’re not willing to listen to you about your symptoms or side effects from medications, they may not be the best fit for you.
Everyone has a different communication style, and not all communication styles mesh. If you feel that you and your psychiatrist are not communicating well, you may need to look for a different doctor. Before you do that, however, let them know that you’re having a difficult time with their communication style, and give them a chance to make adjustments accordingly.
Willing To Spend Time Educating
Your psychiatrist should be willing to spend time educating you and your family about your condition. They should not simply listen to symptoms and prescribe medication. Instead, a good psychiatrist will educate you and your family about your symptoms and your diagnosis. They will work with you to develop a treatment plan and educate you on the methods that will be used.
If they’re prescribing medication, it’s imperative that they take the time to educate you about the medication and its potential side effects. Some doctors will simply prescribe medication and leave it to you to learn about the side effects for yourself. A great doctor will let you know up front what to expect with medication and how long it should be before you start noticing relief from your symptoms.
It’s particularly important that your psychiatrist shows empathy for your situation and doesn’t dismiss your feelings or emotions. This may be hard to judge at first glance. As with the previous factors (education, communication, etc.), you have every right to request that they show more empathy if you feel it’s necessary.
Breadth And Depth Of Knowledge
Your psychiatrist should possess a broad knowledge of different types of mental illness. Many symptoms can be indicative of more than one mental illness or condition. Without extensive knowledge, your doctor may not be able to accurately diagnose and treat you for your problems.
In addition, your doctor should know about different types of therapies and medications. The same treatment does not always work for all patients, so they should have a good knowledge of multiple treatments and medications that can work for your unique situation.
Outside of experience with the doctor and your gut feelings, you may want to look at the doctor’s education and experience backgrounds to determine if they have adequate knowledge to treat you.
Flexibility In Treatment Options
A good psychiatrist is flexible in offering treatment options, particularly when it comes to medications. It’s true that many medications take some time to be effective; sometimes it takes as long as two months before you feel relief. However, if you continue your treatment for several months with no relief, the psychiatrist should be willing to alter the treatment plan and offer different options.
A good psychiatrist will also listen to your opinions on how the treatment is going and whether it’s helping. If you have side effects from any medications, they should be willing to change course. Similarly, if you feel you could be taking less medication or if you’ve learned about a medication that you want to try, the doctor should be willing to entertain the idea and give you reasons why it is or isn’t appropriate.
The Frequency Of Treatment Sessions
Finally, it’s important that your psychiatrist offers to meet with you at reasonable intervals. A patient who is currently stable and responding well to treatment may be able to go three months between appointments. However, if treatment is just beginning or symptoms are not in remission, the patient should be seen more frequently.
It should also be easy to get an appointment with your doctor when necessary. Mental illness can be unpredictable. You may be feeling fine at your appointment and make a new appointment for three months out, only to start suffering from severe depression within a couple of weeks. In this case, it’s important for you to be able see your doctor frequently during times of crisis.
Don’t Be Afraid To Make A Change
If you start seeing a psychiatrist and you’re not happy with the treatment for any reason, don’t be afraid to change doctors. If you’re not 100 percent comfortable with your doctor and if you don’t have complete trust that they can treat your condition, you will not respond well to treatment. You don’t have to feel stuck. Instead, do what is best for you and find another psychiatrist.
Consider Licensed Therapy
BetterHelp offers online therapy that is affordable, convenient, and secure. It may be an option if you run into some of the issues mentioned above, particularly if you live in a rural area or if you can’t find someone who takes insurance. As an added benefit, working with BetterHelp allows you to receive help from the comfort of your own home. You can read some reviews about BetterHelp counselors below, from people experiencing different issues.
“Erika is a Godsend. She had me look at my situation and grief in a healthier way. She is teaching me coping skills that I will be able to use the rest of my life. I like that I can text her whatever I am thinking and feeling that exact moment. She always responds quickly and is able to address the issues I texted. We also talked on the phone, which makes it all the more personal. I have gotten more out of my two weeks with Erika than I did with two years of conventional therapy with a psychiatrist and a counselor at the same time.”
“I cannot express how much Cindi has helped me in the past few weeks that I have had her as my counsellor. She’s helped me understand more about my conditions, helped me settle some things from my past, and has given me brilliant coping techniques that I will use in the future. I’ve been to many many psychiatrists but no one has ever been as wise, caring or considerate as Cindi. She’s helped me realise things about myself that I have never known. Cindi, if you ever read this, thank you so much for everything you do. ”
Finding a psychiatrist near you can seem difficult. With the right information to guide you, receiving help is easier than it looks. A licensed professional at BetterHelp can help you in your healing journey-take the first step.