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Who is a psychiatrist? What is psychiatry?

Psychiatrists are physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses.  They complete medical school and pass the same courses and licensing exams as other physicians. As part of their evaluation of patients, psychiatrists are one of only a few mental health professionals who may prescribe psychiatric medications, conduct physical examinations, order and interpret laboratory tests and may order brain imaging studies such as MRI and CT scans.

If you are taking psychiatric medications (for depression, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia...), psychiatrists have the medical background to explain to you the risks and benefits of those medications and any potential interactions with other medications you are taking. For example, there are medications that can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills or medications that may be harmful to the fetus if you are pregnant.

How can a psychiatrist help me?

First, a psychiatrist should do an evaluation with you, inquire in depth regarding symptoms which you are seeking help for, and determine the severity of your symptoms and how they are interfering with your goals, relationships, work, school, and quality of life. Then, your psychiatrist should go over different treatment options with you. Therapy and/or medication may be recommended to you, depending on the severity of your symptoms and how disruptive they are to your life.

Since psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can also make clinical judgments as to whether you may have a non – psychiatric medical condition that may be causing your symptoms. For example, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, or anemia may all cause fatigue & low energy, which are two common symptoms of depression. Psychiatrists can also assess whether or not your current medications may be interacting in such a way as to cause anxiety, insomnia or irritability.

Do I still need to see a therapist if I see a psychiatrist?

This will depend on a case to case basis. Often time therapists are an integral part of your progress. A therapist is a person who can help you recognize behaviors and reactions you have that may not be working for you. A therapist can help guide you through difficult situations and teach you coping techniques that match your personality. They are also there to help you gain insight into your situation.

What will the first visit be like?

On your first visit, we will explore your symptom in details. Here are some examples of questions regarding your symptoms you may be asked: what triggers them (if anything), how often do you get them, how long do they last, how severe are they, what problems are they causing in your life. I also believe that other aspects of your life are an important part of the "big picture", for example, your support system, your environment, and your job. I will explore some of those areas with you, to the degree that you are comfortable.

At the end of the visit, I will discuss with you what I think is going on. I will discuss the various treatment options. If any medications are recommended, I will explain the risks and benefits and why I think it may help you.

How can I prepare for the first visit?

You do not have to do anything special to prepare for the visit. You may want to write down any questions you would like me to answer, as you may forget them during the session. Please come 30 minutes prior to the initial visit to fill out some basic paperwork.

Please bring all your pill bottles of the medications that you are currently taking.

Please bring the completed new patient packet, insurance card(s) and Power of Attorney documentation (if applicable) in order to process this information.

Elderly or special needs patients should be accompanied by a family member or guardian to ensure that an accurate history and account of patient problems are represented.

When are medications needed to treat my condition?

Each person has his/her individual circumstance. Whether or not medication would be helpful will depend on many factors that you and I will discuss. For example, it will depend on the severity of your symptoms and how much they are interfering with your areas of functioning (work, relationship, family, school).

How often will I have to return to see the psychiatrist?

Assuming you will be taking medication, the medication should be monitored more closely at the beginning to make sure you are not experiencing uncomfortable side effects. At first, depending on how well the medication works for you, the follow-up visits may be every week to two weeks. When your symptoms are well controlled, we can consider meeting less frequently. Many of my patients return for a visit once every 1 to 2 months if they are doing well on their medication.

How do I find the right psychiatrist for me?

The bottom line is really whether or not you feel the psychiatrist cares about you and listens to you. You should trust your instincts. There are some key points to keep in mind. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you feel the psychiatrist is listening to you?
  2. Do you feel the psychiatrist is compassionate?
  3. Does the psychiatrist have the right credentials and qualifications?
  4. Does the psychiatrist explain to you the diagnosis that you have been given?
  5. Does the psychiatrist explain the rationale why a certain treatment was chosen?
  6. Does the psychiatrist take the time to explain the benefits and risk of the treatment?
  7. Does the psychiatrist give you a chance to ask your questions?
  8. Do you feel comfortable with the psychiatrist?
  9. Does the psychiatrist return your calls in a prompt manner?
  10. When you have concerns, does the psychiatrist address them?
  11. Does the psychiatrist keep you waiting for an unreasonable amount of time?

What about payment information?

Most major insurances are accepted.  Contact our office to find out whether we accept your insurance or not.  “Self pay” rates can also be obtained by calling the office. As a courtesy to our patients, we submit claims for up to two insurance companies.  It is the patient’s ultimate responsibility to pay any deductible amounts or any other balance not paid by your insurance company.  It is recommended that you call your insurance company so that the limits of coverage are fully understood by you.

Co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles that are not made at the time of service will incur a non-payment fee and follow-up appointments can not be scheduled.

Billing personnel are available Monday through Friday 8:30 am through 5:00 pm.
and can be reached at 1-800-599-7183.

How can I get medication refills?

Medication refills can be obtained during office visits or by calling with your specific request and pharmacy number.  Please allow atleast 24 hours to process this request. However, controlled substances such as Ritalin, Focalin, Adderall, Metadate, Dexedrine and Concerta can NOT be called, faxed or given in 90 day mail order quantities due to State and Federal laws.  Due to the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency regulations, controlled substance prescriptions cannot be refilled on nights, weekends, or holidays when we do not have access to the patient charts.

What kind of payments do you accept?

Payments can be made with cash, check, Visa, American Express or Mastercard.

What is your training background? Can I look at your profile or credentials?

Please see the About Uspage.

What services do you provide?

Please see the Servicespage.

How do you structure sessions?

The initial evaluation is usually about 45 minutes duration.  For adults, in initial sessions we ask questions about what you would like me to know about what is bringing you in, your life, and family.  For children, typically I meet first with the parents or family and discuss the symptoms, developmental history, school performance etc.  Subsequently I meet with the child.  Followup visits can last anywhere from 15-45 minutes.

What kinds of ongoing education and trainings do you do?

I regularly participate in educational and training activities related to the services I provide.

Are you open to feedback from me regarding the kind of psychiatrist/therapist that I want, that works best for me?


How I can reach you?

For any patient questions or concerns contact our office. Details in the contact us section link above or the homepage of the website.  All calls are “triaged” or answered by Dr. Morthala and will be returned before the end of the business day.

For emergencies during evenings, weekends, holidays, and after hours please call 911. All other calls made during evenings, weekends, holidays, and after hours will be returned promptly the next business day.