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Mental illness such as depression and anxiety has become a global epidemic and the United States is no exception.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50% Americans suffer from some or other form of mental disorders at some point in their lifetime. Out of all mental problems, depression is the one that affects most people. It has become the third most common cause of hospitalization in the United States. (1) Not only adults and senior citizens, but depression has also severely affected even the average American youth. The rate of depression among youth has increased from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015.

While the access to treatment and insurance for mental health issues has become better, approximately 56% of American adults do not receive any treatment for mental illness. (2) One of the major reasons for this is the shortage of mental health professionals. According to a recent report published in the Forbes, hospitals, addiction centers, and behavioral health facilities are unable to recruit the number of psychiatrists they need. (3) There is a dramatic shortage of psychiatrists and mental health workers in the United States and the shortage is not just in rural regions but also in many urban neighborhoods as well. According to a study conducted by Ohio State University, half of the current mental health workforce is going to retire very soon which is going to create a significant shortage of psychiatrists. Although the government has taken all necessary steps to expand the psychiatrist workforce by 2025, it is still unclear if the shortage will be resolved through these measures. (4)

The above statistics clearly state that finding a psychiatrist near me is not going to be an easy task. You may have to wait for weeks to get an appointment and, even though you get through an appointment, you probably won’t get enough time and attention from a psychiatrist near me for anxiety. Due to an excessive rush of patients, most of the psychiatrists near me are under high pressure and some even end up leaving their patients clueless on how to take their life forward. If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any other form of mental disorder, it is very important for you to find the best psychiatrist near me who is not only interested in providing you the right medical help but also willing to counsel you and motivate you to actively take charge of your mental health. In this blog, we will provide you with some helpful tips on how you can select a top rated psychiatrist near me. But, before that, let’s learn more about the education qualification and the scope of practice of psychiatrists.

Who is a Psychiatrist


 

The American Psychiatric Association defines psychiatry as a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. (5) A psychiatrist is a medical professional who specializes in psychiatry. The psychiatrists near me are qualified to assess the physical and mental aspects of psychiatric problems and, accordingly, help their patient deal with them using medicinal and non-medicinal approach. Since they are qualified medical professionals, the psychiatrists near me can perform a full range of medical and psychological tests to detect the patients’ physical and mental health and come up with a treatment plan accordingly. Some of the common diseases and conditions that they treat are:

  • Neurodevelopmental disorders such as AHDH, autism spectrum disorder, etc.

  • Schizophrenia, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, and other forms of psychotic disorders.

  • Bipolar disorders

  • Depression and anxiety related disorders

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Identity disorders

  • Eating-related disorders such as binge-eating

  • Sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and restless legs syndrome

  • Behavioral disorders

  • Substance-related or addictive disorders such as excessive use of alcohol, drugs, etc.

  • Neurocognitive disorders such as brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease

  • Personality disorders such as emotional instability, antisocial behavior, etc.


To become a psychiatrist near me for anxiety and depression, a person has to first complete his medical school education and then, he/she has to apply for a 4-year residency program in psychiatry. The first year of the program usually involves working on patients with a wide range of medical illness. During the rest three years, the candidates learn to diagnose and treat various mental health issues using medicines and talk therapy. Once the candidate has successfully completed his residency program, he/she can apply for board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Just like all medical fields, board certification in the field of psychiatry is a voluntary thing and a psychiatrist near me may not prefer to get one. But, having a board certification indicates that the physician is committed to expanding his knowledge in order to provide best in class services to his or her patients. To remain board-certified, the adhd psychiatrist near me has to continue to participate in educational activities and clear continuing education exam every ten years. When you choose a board-certified child psychiatrist near me, you can be rest assured that he or she has the specialized skills and knowledge that is required to diagnose and treat various kinds of psychiatric disorders.  (6)

Along with board certification, the adult psychiatrist near me may do an additional residency program in any of the subspecialty of psychiatry such as:

  • Addiction psychiatry: Treatment of individuals suffering from substance-related disorders such as alcohol, drugs, etc.

  • Clinical neurophysiology: They are basically pediatric psychiatrists near me who focus on evaluation and treatment of central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous system.

  • Child and adolescent psychiatry: As the name suggests, they are also child psychiatrists near me who treat developmental, behavioral, and emotional issues of children and adolescents.

  • Consultation-liaison psychiatry: The best psychiatrists near me who have opted for this subspecialty treat patients with acute or chronic medical, neurological or surgical conditions that are getting affected due to their mental condition. For example; patients with HIV, traumatic brain injury, renal failure, etc. may also suffer from psychiatric disorders that, in turn, can worsen their health. The consultation-liaison of psychiatrists near me treat such patients.

  • Forensic psychiatry: These types of best rated psychiatrists near me are the ones who focus on using psychiatry with civil, criminal, and administrative law. They specialize in treating individuals involved with the legal system.

  • Geriatric psychiatry: The geriatric psychiatrist near me treats elderly people suffering from various mental and emotional disorders.

  • Hospice and palliative medicine: These affordable psychiatrists near me specialize in hospice and palliative care. They treat hospice patients suffering from life-limiting diseases.

  • Pain medicine: The chronic pain psychiatrists near me diagnose and treat patients suffering from acute and chronic pain such as cancer patients.

  • Sleep medicine: These are basically anxiety psychiatrists near me who are expert in diagnosis and management of clinical conditions related to sleep.


Psychiatrist versus psychologist


 

Since the job descriptions of psychologist and psychiatrist often overlap, people find it hard to decide which one they should choose. Although both of them work towards improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of their patients, the scope of their treatment varies widely. The adolescent psychiatrist near me is a trained medical doctor. He is authorized to prescribe medicine as and when required. The psychologists, however, focus entirely on psychotherapy. They are not licensed to prescribe any form of medicine to the patients. They can only use talk therapy to treat the emotional and mental suffering of their patients. Psychologists are, however, qualified to conduct psychological testing to access a person’s mental state and determine an effective course of treatment.

Both psychiatrists near me and psychologists near me are trained to practice psychotherapy i.e. a kind of approach that requires them to talk to their patients about their problems. However, the psychologists evaluate the behavior of the patients closely and, accordingly they will come up with a treatment plan including counseling to help patients feel better. The psychiatrists near me also use talk therapy, but, they have an extensive knowledge of biology and neurochemistry. So, along with psychotherapy, they can prescribe medicines that can make the patients feel better.

The best psychiatrist near me has attended four years of medical school education and has completed four years residency program in psychiatry. The psychologist near me, on the other hand, have completed six years of university training in psychology and holds a masters or doctorate level of qualification in psychology. Although they call themselves doctor, they are not medical doctors in the true sense and they cannot provide you with any form of medical support.

Very often, people find it hard to figure out if they need a psychologist or if they should find a psychiatrist near me. If you are one of them, don’t worry. Both psychiatrist and psychologist will be able to help you, but if you are experiencing minor symptoms such as mood swings, minor anxiety, feeling lost, etc. you can first consult a psychologist and try a few sessions of counseling or any other therapy that he suggests. If his conventional methods fail, the psychologist will refer you to a psychiatrist near me. If you believe your symptoms are major ones, you can find a psychiatrist near me and consult him. He/she will talk to you about your medical condition and, may refer you to a psychologist, in case he believes you don’t need medication. In most cases, the psychiatrists and psychologists work together to help their patients live their life pleasantly. So, you can visit any one of them and be assured that you will be attended correctly.

How to find a psychiatrist near me


 

Get references


 

As mentioned above, psychiatric problems have become very common these days. So, getting a reference for a local psychiatrist near me isn’t going to be much difficult for you.

  • Don’t be shy to ask your family members and friends for references. A lot of us want to hide our mental problems from our near and dear ones. But, we need to understand that we can’t get healed without their help and support. So, feel free to talk to your family members, friends, and colleagues. Ask them if they have ever sought psychiatric help and how was their experience with their psychiatrist. Remember that everyone will have a different kind of experience with one specific psychiatrist near me. The experience depends on how comfortable the patient felt with the doctor and not specifically how well the prescribed medicines worked. A good psychiatrist near me will ask a lot of questions and will be willing to give a full appointment time instead of rushing through the appointments. He or she will make you feel comfortable, valued, and motivated instead of relying simply on medicines. If your known one had a positive experience with a specific depression psychiatrist near me, it is worth putting his name at the top of the list.

  • If you don’t want to get references from your family or friends, you can talk to your primary care physician. He should be having a good working knowledge of mental health specialists in your area and, therefore, he should be able to guide you.

  • You can also contact your nearby mental health center or local psychiatric associations for references. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) (7) and Mental Health Association (MHA) (8) are very supportive. You can contact them to get a list of all the psychiatrists near me.

  • The American Psychiatrist Association has an online search tool that can help you locate the best psychiatrist near me. (9)

  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry also has a similar search tool that can help you locate nearby mental health professionals. (10)

  • There are many other online tools and websites that offer an extensive list of adult and child psychiatrists near me. We, however, suggest that you must trust credible sources such as government websites. The private websites do have a lot of listings but the information mentioned there is often unverified.

  • You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of all the psychiatrists near me that are within their network. However, remember that your insurance company may not have networked with a psychiatrist that is trained and experienced to handle cases that are very similar to yours. So, do not consider insurance coverage as your primary selection criterion.


Verify credentials


 

No matter who has referred you to a specific psychiatrist near me, do not ignore verifying his or her credentials. As mentioned above, to become an adult psychiatrist near me, a person has to complete a 4-year residency program in psychiatry after graduating from a medical school. During this residency program, they learn various aspects of psychotherapy and are also trained to diagnose and treat patients who require medicines. Most doctors proudly display their degree, license, and certifications in their clinic as well as on their websites. You can simply walk into that clinic and ask the staff to show you these credentials. If possible, look for board certified psychiatrist near me. Although board certification is not mandatory, it does indicate that the physician has undergone a rigorous specialty examination. Board certification also indicates that the physician is committed to lifelong learning.

Once you have gathered all the information regarding the christian psychiatrist near me whom you want to consult, it’s time to cross-check the information. Thankfully, this isn’t as difficult as it sounds. The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Psychiatric Association has online verification tools that can help you find out if the physician you have selected is licensed and certified. (11) (12)

Consider his practice area


 

Psychiatry is a vast field and most part of it involves counseling the patients rather than relying completely on medicines. The counseling or psychotherapy approach varies differently on case to case basis. So, there cannot be ‘one size fits all’ formula. Therefore, it is very important for you to find a psychiatrist near me who specializes in treating the conditions that are very similar to yours. If your child is suffering from anxiety, you need to take him to a child psychiatrist near me and not just any psychiatrist. A child psychiatrist is specifically trained to deal with children. He or she knows how to talk to the little ones and extract the information that is bothering them. They know how to counsel children, specifically the ones that are too adamant or too difficult to deal with. Similarly, if your elderly family member is feeling depressed because of his or her illness for whatsoever reason it is, you need to contact a geriatric psychiatrist near me. They specialize in offering psychotherapy and medicinal help to elderly patients and the ones who are suffering from life-limiting diseases. There are psychiatrists who specialize in treating people with alcohol and drug abuse. The bipolar psychiatrist near me specializes in treating bipolar disorders. The adhd psychiatrist near me is highly experienced in treating patients with attention deficit disorders. Choosing the right mental health physician who specializes in offering the specific service that you require can make a lot of difference to the quality of treatment that you receive.

Consider his/her gender


 

One of the biggest reasons why people hesitate to go to a psychiatrist near me is that they don’t want to or they don’t feel comfortable to share their personal story with a complete stranger. Comfort is one of the biggest factors that you need to consider while choosing a psychiatrist near me, because if you don’t feel comfortable, you won’t be able to share your feelings and concerns. Since psychotherapy i.e. talk therapy is a major part of any psychiatric treatment, you need to choose a physician with whom you will feel as comfortable as you would feel with your friend. This is the reason why considering the gender of the physician is crucial. If you are depressed due to your husband’s infidelity, you would probably feel more comfortable in talking to a female psychiatrist near me, assuming that she would be able to understand your feelings and concerns better than a male psychiatrist. Similarly, if you are a male suffering from bipolar disorder, you would probably find it hard to explain your feelings to a female psychiatrist near me. Please note that the gender of the psychiatrist isn’t going to affect the quality of treatment you would receive. It is the comfort level that matters the most while receiving psychiatric treatment.

Schedule an initial appointment


 

If you have followed the above-mentioned steps, you would probably be having only one or two names in your list. Now, it’s time to meet them and finalize the one who, you believe, is going to be the best fit for you. An initial appointment with them will help you evaluate your comfort levels with the doctor. Reach for your appointment early and talk to the other patients waiting there at the clinic. Ask them how their experience is with the doctor. Find out if he or she takes genuine concern in the patient’s health. Ask if he entertains all the questions and concerns of patients. If you get a positive response from the other patients, there are high chances that this specific psychiatrist near me is going to be the best fit for you too.

During your meeting, do not hesitate to ask questions no matter how dumb they sound.  When it comes to psychiatric treatment, no question is a dumb question and no feeling is a dumb feeling. If you feel uncomfortable, the psychiatric should help you feel comfortable and confident. He should validate your feelings and should be willing to address all your concerns. The first meeting is going to be a long one since the psychiatrist would want to get all possible information from you so that he can come up with a step by step treatment plan for you. Do not expect a prescription during your first meeting. The psychiatrist will initially try counseling and would suggest you medicines only when he or she feels that psychotherapy is not enough.

Even if you are visiting the best psychiatrist near me, do not expect to walk out of his clinic with the perfect solution to your mental illness. It takes time to recover from mental illness. Moreover, the physician will keep changing the treatment plan frequently depending on your response. So, be patient with the doctor and give him enough time instead of looking for a change very quickly. We hope we have provided you with all the necessary information that you may require to choose a psychiatrist near me. For more such helpful information, keep reading our blog.

References and Citations

  • gov. (2018). Data and Publications - Mental Health - CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/data_publications/index.htm

  • Mental Health America. (2018). 2017 State of Mental Health in America - Report Overview Historical Data. [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/2017-state-mental-health-america-report-overview-historical-data#Key

  • com. (2018). Psychiatrist Shortage Escalates As U.S. Mental Health Needs Grow. [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2018/02/25/psychiatrist-shortage-escalates-as-u-s-mental-health-needs-grow/#638391f81255

  • Satiani A, e. (2018). Projected Workforce of Psychiatrists in the United States: A Population Analysis. - PubMed - NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29540118

  • org. (2018). What Is Psychiatry?. [online] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-psychiatry

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. (2018). How can I find out if my doctor is a board-certified specialist?. [online] Available at: https://www.abpn.com/check-physician-status/general-public/

  • Recovery, Disorder, G., Someone Who Looks Like Me, P. and Someone Who Looks Like Me, P. (2018). NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. [online] NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. Available at: https://www.nami.org/

  • Mental Health America. (2018). Mental Health America. [online] Available at: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

  • psychiatry.org. (2018). [online] Available at: http://finder.psychiatry.org/

  • org. (2018). Find a Physician. [online] Available at: https://www.aacap.org/aacap/Member_Services/Find_A_Physician.aspx

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. (2018). Search for an ABPN Board Certified Physician - American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. [online] Available at: https://www.abpn.com/check-physician-status/search-board-certified-physician/

  • org. (2018). State Licensure. [online] Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/telepsychiatry/state-licensure