"I approach each patient as a another physician involved in their healthcare. Psychiatry is a medical specialty, just as cardiology and internal medicine are. As such, psychiatric diagnoses--from common ones like depression and anxiety disorders, to those less prevalent like, schizophrenia--require the same degree of attention as "medical" illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes do in diagnostic formulation and establishment of a treatment plan. After all, the brain is an organ just as the heart and lungs are. There should be no shame associated with treating the brain, just as there isn't any with treating the heart.
At Pasadena Neuropsychiatry, we believe psychiatry is as necessary to good health as any other medical specialty--it should not be categorized as an optional 'add-on' coverage and should be accessible to all who need it as was the intention of the federal mental health parity law of 2008.
In addition to access, integration of care is another key component of our practice. With coordination of care with other treatment team members, such as primary care physicians and specialists, we strive to integrate psychiatry into a patient's overall healthcare, with the goal of having a "continuum of care" as opposed to silos of care.
As a physician specializing in psychiatry, my goals are simple and have remained unchanged during my career, regardless of the practice setting and acuity of care:
Follow evidence-based medicine to ensure patients have access to the safest and most effective treatments.
Empower patients. This isn't 'my treatment plan'. This is our treatment plan. The more patients understand about their health--from the role of genetics in disease risk to the mechanism of pharmacology with a given medication, the stronger the partnership can become between a physician and a patient.
Reduce the stigma of psychiatry by empowering patients with knowledge. It is important to reclaim 'psychiatry' and normalize it in the context of misused terms, from 'mental illness' to 'behavioral health' with the latter suggesting volitional control over symptoms and diagnoses. The official name of the specialty as certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties (which governs the American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology), is "Psychiatry", a medical specialty, right there along with pediatrics and family medicine. The brain is indeed connected to the other organ systems in the body.
Torie Shatzmiller Sepah, MD