10 Reasons to Stay Out of the Psychiatrist’s Office

There is a myth going around that doctors want as many patients as they can gather, so they can make a lot of money off of them. In truth, most doctors have too many patients already. Far too many to truly help. They have too much work, and not enough time to do it. The health care system is overloaded, with too much utilization and too many people in need. In truth, your healthcare professionals would be pleased if more of you could stay healthy and stay home from the doctor’s office. This is especially true in psychiatry, where the need is far greater than the availability of services. Psychiatrists are spread too thin, and too many patients get left without the care they need.

In reality, psychiatry serves too many of the wrong folks. Many of the sickest people don’t get the care they need, and the “worried well” get too much mental health care.

Here are 10 reasons NOT to go see a psychiatrist:

1.     You’re looking for a quick fix.

Most psychiatric treatments don’t alleviate symptoms within a matter of days. Expect mental health treatments to take weeks, or even months, to make things better.

2.     Psychiatry is your first stop to assess a problem.

For depression, anxiety, or child behavioral problems, the first stop is often better made at the primary care doctor or a counseling professional.

3.     Your problem is mild.

Primary care or counseling may be better for treating your milder symptoms. Psychiatric medications are developed for use in moderate to severe mental health disorders. Treatments for milder symptoms lack evidence. You may receive care intended for a more serious problems than the one yoy have, and if you do receive prescription medication, it may not have research to support its use in cases like yours.

4.     Psychotherapy (counseling) may work just as well.

Most research studies show that counseling works just as well as medications for some (but not all) diagnoses. Schizophrenia is best treated with meds, but depression responds well to psychotherapy and may not require prescription meds at all.

5.     You have general health problems that are unresolved.

If your health is out of whack, you may need to get that in order first. Common conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure can lead to anxiety and depression. Many physical conditions (like thyroid disease) can cause mental health symptoms, and unless your other conditions are treated, mental health treatment may not work well.

6.     Wait times of 2-6 months to get an appointment for an assessment.

Because psychiatry is a shortage specialty, it can take a long time to see the doctor. If your problem is likely to worsen or resolve over a few months, you might want to see a generalist first instead.

7.     To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Psychiatrists prescribe psychiatric medication. If you want a diagnosis, but you may not be willing to take a medication, you may be better off seeing a psychologist for diagnostic testing first. If you see a psychiatrist, it’s rare that you’ll walk away without a written prescription for a medication in hand.

8.     You have been on the same medication for a long time without any need for change, and your primary care doctor is willing to prescribe your medication.

If your needs are clear, straight forward, and met with a plan you are already following, you may not need a specialist. Ask if your primary care can fold your mental health treatment in with the other treatments she provides.

9.     Psychiatric medications have a long list of side effects and problems.

Psych meds can be life saving for serious mental illness, but it’s no secret that meds are sometimes overprescribed for milder conditions. The risks of side effects may outweigh the benefits of taking prescriptions in your case.

10. Polypharmancy (the practice of stacking medicines on top of medicines) is a growing problem in the field of mental health care.

Whereas a general doctors are more apt to keep your treatment simple, specialists may be more comfortable with complicated mixtures of treatments. Perhaps you don’t want to start out with a professional who makes treatment complicated.

Posted on February 27, 2017 .