Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time can be quite daunting and many people are unsure what to expect. Here are some of the questions which I am frequently asked, to help ease you into your first appointment.
1What does a Psychiatric evaluation involve?
- An initial psychiatric assessment is like a first consultation with any medical specialist. However, in the case of psychiatry, we take a bit longer to get to know you so that we can ascertain what your unique challenges are.
- The first consultation is likely to take approximately 90 mins
- During this time, I will ask a series of questions regarding your current difficulties, early life development, social, cultural, academic and occupational areas
- You do not need to worry about not having anything to say, I will ask questions which guide you so that we can work together to establish a therapeutic relationship as well as the best management approach
2How is seeing a psychiatrist different to seeing a psychologist?
- A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has a specialist degree in the management of brain disorders. These brain disorders typically impact a person’s moods, behaviours, perceptions, cognitions and other bodily functions. Medical management may include but is not limited to the use of medications, certain psychotherapeutic techniques and environmental modification. As medical doctors, psychiatrists are allowed to prescribe medication.
- A psychologist studies normal and abnormal mental states by observing and interpreting how people relate to one another and their environments. They evaluate and manage any difficulties with the use of extensive psychotherapy and behavioural interventions. A psychologist however is not allowed to prescribe medication.
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists work best together as part of a multidisciplinary team and may often refer to or discuss patient management with one another. Other important professionals in a multidisciplinary team may include: Occupational Therapists, Speech/ hearing therapists, Neurologists, Dietitians and many other medical/ allied professionals.
3Will I have to take medication and if so, will it be forever?
- Not all psychiatric disorders require the use of medication
- Sometimes psychology, lifestyle/ dietary modification and other non-chemical interventions can be used to manage psychiatric disorders
- If medication is advised, the indications, alternatives and potential side-effects will be discussed with you on a case by case basis
- In some psychiatric conditions lifelong medication may be necessary to control or to prevent recurrence of the underlying disorder, however not all psychiatric conditions require medication to be taken long-term
4Does having a psychiatric disorder mean that I am “crazy”, undisciplined or weak?
- No, it does not
- Psychiatric disorders arise from chemical inconsistencies in the brain. This is likely due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors
- Having a psychiatric disorder is similar to having a medical condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure and may often be associated with or predispose patients to the development of other medical conditions
5How do I claim back from medical aids?
- Dr Lownie is currently not contracted to medical aids but she is registered as a specialist with the medical aids
- She runs a cash practice, meaning that we ask you to settle your account at the time of your appointment and then submit the claim for reimbursement
- Dr Lownie will provide you with all the necessary invoices and ICD 10 codes for you to claim back from your medical aids, should you wish to do so
- This will be discussed in greater detail with you at the time of booking and during your appointment