Medication Services for
Mental Health Conditions
PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATION SERVICES IN
The Behavioral Wellness Clinic offers prescription services, including diagnostic assessments and medication evaluation and management for a variety of mental health conditions. Our psychiatric nurse practitioner, Dr. Sarah Schirmer, DNP, is very experienced and knowledgeable. Although she prescribes medication, she also enlists a holistic approach to the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Dr. Schirmer, DNP uses a variety of assessment techniques, therapy and education to help her clients understand their diagnosis, treatment options and health behaviors to improve overall mental health and a sense of well-being.
The initial appointment is one hour, and after that regular medication management appointments will take about 20-30 minutes. Attention is paid to current symptoms, stressors, life events and other health related issues, depending on each patient’s needs, concerns and questions. When necessary, Dr. Schirmer, DNP may order labs or other types of tests such as psychological testing, neurological testing, or sleep studies. Based on individual goals, there may also be discussion about diet including vitamins and supplements, caffeine, alcohol and other substances, exercise, social life, and spirituality.
When needed, medications can be a powerful tool in the treatment of many types of mental disorders. There are many different types of psychiatric medications that are used to treat mental disorders. As a group, these medications are known as psychotropic drugs. Sometimes, medications that are needed for other health conditions may also be used to treat symptoms of certain disorders or to boost the effects of a psychotropic medication. The most commonly prescribed psychotropics include:
- Antidepressants / Anti-obsessional drugs
- Antipsychotics / Neuroleptics
- Mood stabilizers
- Sedatives / Anxiolytics
We are dedicated to reaching underserved communities, and so we provide psychiatric services beyond Louisville. Dr. Schirmer sees patients online throughout Kentucky and Indiana.
WE DO NOT ACCEPT INSURANCE
We do not take any kind of insurance, nor do we accept Medicare, Medicaid or Passport. We do provide our patients with a customized receipt at the time of your visit that will allow you to file a claim with your insurance, should you decide to seek reimbursement on your own. Among those who chose this route, many receive a fair amount of reimbursement back from their insurance company. More about our fees and payment options.
DID YOU KNOW?
IMPORTANT PRIVACY NOTICE
Some clients choose not to file with their insurance company to protect their privacy. Self-pay protects your mental health information from being stored with the Medical Information Bureau (MIB Group), an insurance membership organization that shares people’s health information among its corporate members. Over 500 insurance companies in the US and Canada are part of this organization. Like a credit report, individuals can obtain a free copy of their MIB consumer file once a year.
When providers contract with insurance companies, these contracts require us to release your medical record to the insurance company — even if you did not want them involved. In order for us to be reimbursed, the insurance company would require our doctor to give you a mental disorder diagnosis — even if you do not have a mental health condition — and that information is submitted to the insurance company. This information may then be deposited with the MIB Group. Many clients don’t bother filing with insurance because they realize they can see our medical providers for a full year for less than the cost of a cable TV plan and maintain their privacy.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MEDICATION
Medications do not typically cure mental disorders but they can reduce symptoms and thereby improve one’s ability to function and succeed in obtaining a higher quality of life. Unfortunately, there are common misconceptions about psychotropic medications.
The following are answers to frequently asked questions.
WILL THESE MEDICATIONS CHANGE MY PERSONALITY?
No. Medications do not change one’s personality. They may change how one feels and behaves. For example, when anxiety is reduced a person can think more clearly, be more productive, and relax more easily. Medications may also cause side effects. Most side effects are mild and resolve shortly after one’s body gets used to having the medication in its system. If side effects are persistent or severely uncomfortable then your your psychiatric provider should be informed so that either the dose can be adjusted or the medication changed. Everybody’s body is different. This is why is it important to keep regular visits with your your psychiatric provider who will assess safety and ongoing necessity for the medication. However, if you find that you do not like the way you feel on a new medication, you can always simply stop taking it.
ARE PSYCHIATRIC MEDICATIONS ADDICTIVE?
Most psychotropic medications do not cause addiction. Addiction is a psychological need or excessive desire for something that produces a sense of escape, euphoria or a “high.” When somebody is addicted to something, that person will do whatever it takes to ensure that he or she has that thing that produces the euphoric effect. When medications are used as prescribed, even those that have the potential to be abused, it is very unlikely that addiction will occur.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF THESE MEDICATIONS?
Every medication has its own specific potential for side effects. Depending on what you have been prescribed, your your psychiatric provider will instruct you about the most common or serious side effects of that particular medication. If you have questions about your medications, do not hesitate to ask your your psychiatric provider who can give you the most accurate information and help you decide if the side effect is serious enough to do something different with the medication, such as a dose adjustment or discontinuation. Your pharmacist is also a good source of information about side effects. It is important to always consult your your psychiatric provider before you stop taking your medication as symptoms can sometimes worsen with abrupt withdrawal of the medication.
ONCE I START MEDICATION, WILL I EVER BE ABLE TO GET OFF OF THEM?
This is a complicated question because each individual is unique. In general, it is recommended that people stay on medications for at least 9-12 months after symptoms have resolved. Some patients need to stay on medications longer. This is an important conversation to have with your provider and another reason why ongoing medication management is necessary to determine whether or not medication is indicated. The good news is that for many types of disorders, such as depression, PTSD, OCD, and anxiety conditions, therapy can eliminate the need for mediciton.
CAN MY PRIMARY CARE PROVIDER PRESCRIBE PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS?
Yes. Primary care providers do prescribe psychotropic medications. However, many primary care providers recommend that a specialist manage this type of medication. Psychiatric providers have specific expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Psychotropics are a complex group of medications with many nuances that take prescribing beyond a science into an art. Just like someone with heart problems sees a cardiologist or someone with diabetes sees an endocrinologist, someone with a psychiatric disorder should see a psychiatric specialist.
Call us to schedule an appointment today.