How to tell if your Psychiatrist is a Quack

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"How to tell if your Psychiatrist is a Quack"
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I worked in mental health for a good percentage of my career.  I've worked as a mental health technician (grunt worker) and in the social services department (assisting with placement).  I've known a lot of psychiatrists over the years.  It's very important for the layman/reader to understand, specifically, what a psychiatrist is (as opposed to a psychologist, therapist or counselor).  A psychiatrist is a medical doctor.  (S)he went to med school and took specialty classes geard toward psychology/behavior.  If you want a psychiatrist because you "want someone to talk to," you're going to the wrong person.  (There is an exception.  There ia a very specific kind of psychiatrist-Freudian trained-called a psychotherapist.  They will talk to you-for years and years.  It's kind of a racket.)  If you think just taking a pill will cure your problems, then perhaps a psychiatrist is the person you need.

Now, how do you know if your psychiatrist is a good one and not a quack?  Psychiatrists have a habit of putting you on some kind of medication, and they usually do it pretty quickly.  For my money, a good psychiatrist will begin by having you have a full physical.  Often times, a person who is having symptoms of behavioral health problems may be having some sort of medical problems.  The solution may be as simple as a change in diet, increased exercise or a change in sleeping patterns.  When one feels good physically, it is typical to feel better, mentally-and vice versa.  If a psychiatrist doesn't insist on a full physical before prescribing medication, you may want to change psychiatrists.

I should rephrase exactly what I mean by a psychiatrist who prescribes meds without a full physical.  (S)he may, or may not, be a quack, but a psychiatrist who talks to you for fifteen minutes (which would be considered long for most psychiatrists) and then gets out the prescription pad is using rote technique, and not individualizing treatment for the patient.  (S)he can always say, if the prescription doesn't work, "This isn't an exact science," as (s)he writes a script for something else.  This is a doctor who wants to get you in and out and wants to get on to the next patient.  More patients.  More money.  Does that make one a quack?  That's up to you to decide.

A psychiatrist is like any other medical doctor.  There are good ones and bad ones.  If you're at the point where you're questioning the value of your psychiatrist, it might not hurt to look elsewhere.  This person may or may not be a quack, but if you're not comfortable, it may be time for a change anyway.  It never hurts to get a second opinion. 

More about this author: Paul Schingle

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