Psychiatric Evaluation & Medication Management
Psychiatric evaluation and medication management is a treatment modality for mental health conditions. Evaluation and medication management are usually carried out by psychiatrists or, in many states, psychiatric nurse practitioners. These medical professionals have specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. They can prescribe medication - sometimes also referred to as pharmacotherapy - and often also provide counseling.
Choosing the right treatment can be confusing, given the availability of modalities and how differently people and problems can respond to them. Read on to learn more about psychiatric evaluation and medication, and explore whether this could be a good fit for you. Remember also that, before deciding, it’s important to explore the options with your mental health professional or primary care doctor.
What can psychiatric evaluation and medication management help with?
Medication management can be an effective treatment, or component of a treatment plan, for a range of symptoms of mental health conditions, such as:
Structure of psychiatric evaluation and medication management sessions
The first session with your psychiatrist (or psychiatric nurse practitioner) will usually involve a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation. As the aim is to assess your mental health, your provider is likely to ask questions about your history, family, symptoms, and feelings. This information is used to form an opinion or diagnosis, which can then guide the most appropriate treatment plan, which does not always involve medication.
If it is considered a good treatment option for your needs, your provider may discuss the role of medication. They will explain why and how it works, side effects, and how it should be taken. You have the opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of taking medication and can then make a decision together about how you will proceed.
It’s very common for treatment plans to involve psychotherapy in addition to medication. Therapy is often delivered by a different provider, but you can check to make sure that all providers involved in your care communicate regularly about your treatment.
Regular follow-up sessions are arranged in order to review and manage your medication. These appointments are usually briefer, intended to monitor the effectiveness of the medication, check for any side-effects, and adjust the dose or change to a different medication as needed.
Does medication management work?
Research shows that medication forms an effective component of a treatment plan for many conditions. However, different kinds of problems respond differently to the various treatments; and not all people or mental health conditions need medication. When pharmacotherapy is used, it is often in conjunction with evidence-based psychological therapies. More research is needed to determine the most effective combinations of these treatment modalities (1).
How does medication management work?
The way each medication acts to affect symptoms of different mental health conditions varies widely and differs from person-to-person. It is best understood through discussion with your provider and further reading based on your diagnosis, the medication prescribed, and your unique needs.
Length and frequency of psychiatric evaluation and medication management
You’ll continue to be reviewed by your provider for as long as you continue to take medication. The frequency of your appointments may decrease over time as your symptoms improve.
What to look for in a provider for psychiatric evaluation and medication management
There are several factors to keep in mind when selecting a provider, including:
Type of mental health professional
With so many different provider types available, it can be difficult to decide which type of mental health professional to see. If you are considering including medication in your treatment plan, it’s important to see a psychiatrist (or, in most states, a psychiatric nurse practitioner), as these mental health practitioners are able to prescribe where others are not.
Look for a provider who has experience treating people with the particular concern you’re seeking help for; that might be depression, PTSD, addictions, or adolescent psychiatry, for example. Providers often include this information in their biography on their website or online profile.
The most important thing is to look for a currently licensed provider. This ensures that your provider has completed the appropriate level of education to practice. All providers on Zencare have already been vetted.
Consider whether you’d like to work with a provider for medication management only (and perhaps see a therapist for psychological therapy separately), or whether you’d like to see a provider who offers both medication management and psychological therapy.
The trusting relationship between you and your therapist, known as the “therapeutic alliance” can have a huge impact on the efficacy of therapy. It’s important to work with someone you trust and feel understood by, particularly if you are also going to participate in psychological therapy (and not just medication management) with your provider.
The best way to judge how you might feel about a provider is to ask for a preliminary phone call. Try to speak to a few different providers before deciding.
Find therapists specializing in psychiatric evaluation and medication management
Find therapists who specialize in psychiatric evaluation and medication management on Zencare. Search by insurance, fees, and location; watch therapist introductory videos; and book free initial calls to find the right therapist for you!
Sources and references
- (1) Huhn, M., et al., 2014, “Efficacy of pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy for adult psychiatric disorders: a systematic overview of meta-analyses”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24789675
- American Psychological Association, “How do I choose between medication and therapy?”. Accessed online February 2020 at https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/medication-or-therapy
- North Lakes Community Clinic, https://northlakesclinic.org/psychiatric-medication-management/