The Harder Road – A Psychiatrist in Austin Takes Mental Health Conditions Seriously

We recently made a change to our website.  It may seem small—it’s only five sentences—but the implications are huge.   We added the following words to our new evaluation appointment request form, with the goal of shaping prospective patients’ expectations about how we practice mental health care:

“For your safety, we have a formal evaluation process for stimulant medications.  It starts with an initial consultation.  Your clinical provider will decide whether to start a treatment relationship with you for ADHD. We are unlikely to prescribe medications on your first visit.  Please check the box below and inform the office staff of your goals when scheduling your initial consultation.”

Why the change?  And why do we feel a need to explain? We have seen an increase in the number of mental health patients searching for stimulant medications like Adderall to treat ADHD symptoms, and we believe in beginning all new relationships with clear communication and boundaries.

It has become common for prospective mental health patients to contact us with very urgent, defined expectations about their medication, often based on media information or their previous mental health care provider’s decisions.

Frequently, the prospective mental health patient will be upfront with their ADHD diagnosis and the correct dosage to treat ADHD, insisting on being given a prescription because their previous provider’s prescription has run out. 

Its A Different Time For Mental Health Therapies

It’s been a hard past few years for those seeking therapy, and we can’t blame anyone for having expectations about managing and preventing anxiety and ADHD symptoms. It’s difficult to find psychiatrists that will give great therapy, especially if potential patients have spent any time online trying to research mental health disorders.  As this article points out, “Before the pandemic…[mental health professionals] had to see a patient in person in order to prescribe a controlled substance.”

Those rules were relaxed under the COVID-19 public health emergency, opening the door to…telehealth companies. They advertised heavily on platforms like TikTok and made it easy for people to get a diagnosis and medication for conditions like ADHD. Some practitioners working for the platforms say they made it too easy and that they felt pressure and stress to prescribe medications. 

Mental Health Disorders & Treatments by Online Mental Health Professionals.

One telehealth startup that offers treatments is called Done.  Done markets “ADHD treatment, done right.”  They offer a one-minute assessment for treatment, a 30-minute same-day treatment appointment, and “online visits, worry-free refills for medication, and 24/7 care.”  Unfortunately, Done and Cerebral, another example of a telehealth company offering therapy, are now under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Maybe it’s not so easy for a time-bound therapist to focus and assess symptoms, prescribe medication, and offer great therapy in just a matter of minutes!

This medicine isn’t candy!  Stimulants for patients suffering from ADHD are designated as controlled substances, with serious side effects and medical risks.  Medical professionals and therapists have valid concerns about the medical side effects, misuse, overuse, and diversion of stimulants to individuals who are not under the care of a medical doctor.

Further, there is considerable discussion that diagnosing ADHD in adults is difficult and often incorrect. There can be significant overlap of ADHD with other mental health diagnoses.  Just because someone takes a short assessment doesn’t mean they can stop there, if they want their mental health treatment to work. Behavioral therapy is often complex and can take time and trying out different treatments.

A Sensible Approach To Mental Health Conditions

What we promote is a bio-psycho-social approach to mental health care that is a multi-disciplinary approach to one’s mental health.
At Pondworks Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, we do far more than the average Austin psychiatrist by;
a) addressing the whole person
b) And taking the appropriate amount of time for each individual.

This leads to a more accurate diagnosis of the problem (or problems) at hand and eliminates unnecessary risks in therapy.  You are more satisfied with your therapist and also more confident about the treatment (or taking your treatment record to a new doctor, should you move on).  Pondworks Psychiatry & Psychotherapy is eager to help people who want safe, sustainable, lasting change and improvement wellness. Effectiveness in a patient’s ADHD treatment is what we at Pondworks Psychiatry & Psychotherapy strive for with all of our patients.