Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can do a psychiatric evaluation and prescribe medications for psychiatric conditions.
For the first appointment, patients usually meet with the psychiatrists for 1-1 1/2 hours. This is an evaluation and diagnosis appointment. Once an evaluation and diagnosis has been made, the doctor may prescribe medication. The patient will then usually see the doctor every 4-6 weeks for a “med check” appointment. Sometimes the patient will meet with the psychiatrist’s nurse instead of meeting with the psychiatrist for the med check appointment.
Psychiatrists usually do not do psychotherapy- that is, they usually do not meet frequently with the patient to discuss his or her problems. The psychiatrist focuses on physical symptoms and the effect of the prescribed medication. Often psychiatrists will refer patients to an outpatient psychotherapist who will meet more frequently with the patient to discuss problems.
Medications prescribed by a psychiatrist usually must be taken regularly (usually daily) for a long period of time. It is important that the refugee client understand that the medication will not immediately make them feel better, but that it builds up in their body over time. It is very important that the refugee patient understand that they must take the medication exactly as prescribed by the doctor. This is often a problem for refugee patients who are not familiar with treating psychiatric symptoms with psychotropic medications. It is important that the refugee patient understand that the sudden discontinuation of a psychotropic medication can result in a serious symptomatic reaction.
Fatma Reda, M.D., Arabic speaking
Dr. Karen Ta, Vietnamese speaking