What is psychiatry?
Psychiatry is a medical field focused on diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions. These include common conditions such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders to more complex neurodevelopmental diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism (ASD) or disorders affecting the perception or cognition.
Myth: The Psychiatrist only prescribes medication
Fact: The medication is only a small part of the puzzle. A psychiatrist is often equipped in providing holistic treatment: therapy, diagnosis and methods to prevent mental illness. In some cases, a non-medication approach may be preferred. Being a medical trained doctor, the psychiatrist has a good understanding on how physical and mental health are connected.
To achieve the best results, the psychiatrist is utilising the biopsychosocial model, this involves addressing biological, psychological and social factors.
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor who will have spent 5-6 years obtaining a medical degree. Obtaining the degree, is only the first step as the practitioner needs to enrol in further training for at least another 6-8 years. Therefore, in the U.K it takes a psychiatrist approximately 14 years* or more to become recognised as a specialist or a Consultant Psychiatrist.
During this time the practitioner needs to accumulate experience in different organisations, achieve set competences and pass the Royal College of Psychiatrists membership exams. *Please note in some situations in particular for psychiatrists receiving training in different healthcare systems may have a different training path. For up-to-date guide on how to become a psychiatrist, visit The Royal College of Psychiatrist - How to become a psychiatrist (rcpsych.ac.uk)
What conditions a psychiatrist can treat?
A psychiatrist is trained and well equipped to treat most if not all the mental health conditions. When it comes to the ability for the psychiatrist to take on a particular case, it resumes to the setting of a service: outpatient clinic, hospital, levels of risk and other factors. A list of the common conditions diagnosed by a psychiatrist: anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, neurodevelopmental conditions, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders and many others.
- sleep disorders: circadian rhythm disorder, narcolepsy, insomnia, restless legs syndrome
- eating disorders, binge eating
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- personality disorders
- autism (ASD)
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- and much more
Depending on the level of training and expertise, psychiatrists can be well knowledgeable in diagnosing and treatment of ADHD, including were necessary associated conditions. People diagnosed with neurodevelopmental conditions may also be suffering from an associated condition in their lifetime. Therefore, having the ADHD assessment with a private psychiatrist may be helpful for your continuity of care, seeing the same specialist without the need to repeat your story.
Psychiatrists can obtain expertise in ADHD during their specialist training, by attending special interest clinics, training courses or part of their annual personal development plan.
ADHD Psychiatrist specialist expertise:
Psychiatrists have extensive training in diagnosing and treatment of mental health conditions, including ADHD. They often conduct comprehensive assessments, mental state examination to accurately diagnose the specific type of ADHD and rule out or confirm associated conditions. The psychiatrist can put together a holistic plan, recommending therapists, coaches, and other professionals to achieve optimal results. We think having a comprehensive assessment and report is essential, as this provides you for many years to come with good evidence of your diagnosis. To find out more about our approach to diagnosis, visit the dedicated page Adult ADHD assessment.
Starting medication is a personal choice, since some cases may not need this treatment. Being a medical trained doctor, psychiatrists can prescribe optimal medication for ADHD and where necessary understand different interactions minimising side-effects. Ongoing monitoring of the treatment for ADHD is essential, since the person receiving treatment may encounter different challenges throughout their life. Depending on your particular case, a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD can advise when medication is not indicated.
Therapy and coaching
Beyond prescribing medication, where appropriate, psychiatrists specialising in ADHD can offer tailored therapy and coaching programs addressing your specific needs. This means you're not just receiving a one-size-fits-all treatment, but a collaborative journey towards a better quality of life. Depending on the level of expertise and client preferences, a psychiatrist can support you with interpersonal psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive analytic therapy or coaching.
ADHD often comes with associated mental health conditions like sleep problems, anxiety, binge eating, depression, ASD or other mood disorders. Possibly in the future, you may experience stress, burnout or other mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are ready to manage a vast array of mental health concerns, addressing underlying conditions alongside your ADHD.
Long term support by your side
Since ADHD is a lifelong condition, to manage it effectively requires ongoing support. A private psychiatrist can provide regular follow-ups, monitor your progress, adjust treatment plans as needed, so you can navigate life's challenges with ADHD. A specialist psychiatrist can liaise with your GP and other professionals throughout your lifetime and offer expert guidance in overcoming health challenges. Recent research indicates that people suffering from ADHD may be at higher risk of developing cardiovascular conditions and may be more prone to develop other conditions.
How do I get to see a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD
In the NHS
Your GP would need to refer you to a local ADHD specialist service. However, depending on the waiting times, staffing levels this may not always be possible and instead be seen by other professionals: nurse, psychologist, pharmacist or independent prescriber. Some of the GP surgeries may have arrangements with private NHS providers via the Right to Choose programme. Some of the services may provide psychiatric assessment, whilst other may be able to support offering non-medical assessment and prescribing. Each locality has different structured ADHD services and support, to find out more about the options available in your area it is recommended checking with your GP.
Choosing to see a psychiatrist privately it is usually the fastest and easiest option when seeking specialised support. We are accepting new patients living in London or in the U.K. without a GP referral. However, if possible, it is recommended to speak with your GP before booking your consultation since this improves the prospects in obtaining shared care in the future. By going private, you are in control towards deciding your psychiatrist aligning with your specific needs. While private ADHD care offers numerous advantages, the cost can be a significant barrier for many individuals.
Please note: We consider accepting new patients via self-funding route, or with certain private medical insurance providers. Some private medical insurance providers may not cover ADHD, or the specific private psychiatrist fees. Therefore, it is recommended contacting your provider before arranging an appointment.
What happens during an assessment?
For most people attending their first appointment with the psychiatrist can be anxiety provoking. The duty of a psychiatrist is to help people, understand their needs and offer support towards a better quality of life. Your psychiatrist is there by your side to listen your story, provide you with valid information so you make the best-informed decisions.
During your appointment your psychiatrist will understand your mental, physical health and social factors by asking:
- about your journey to come and seek support
- general questions about your current life, goals and thoughts
- understanding your specific path from birth until present, necessary for an accurate ADHD diagnosis
- where applicable, understand your past mental health problems
- conduct specific testing for ADHD such as completing the DIVA-V questionnaire
- provide psychoeducation, so you can learn accurately about your condition
- discuss treatment options such as therapy, lifestyle changes, or if appropriate medication
- liaise with other professionals such as your GP to ensure continuity and shared care
After the appointment, the psychiatrist will put together a comprehensive report, so you have good evidence of your problems and a plan moving forward.
Control every aspect of your private care
How to find a private ADHD psychiatrist?
It is often overwhelming to find the person you connect with. There are a few options available:
- search for them online and compare their services and profiles
- check out their availability, psychiatrists may not always be able to take on new cases
- see if your private insurance is accepted, or consider if self-funding can be an option
You decide on every step of your care with the help of a private psychiatrist.
Living in London or in the U.K?
Dr Stefan Ivantu is a Private Consultant Psychiatrist, specialising in the diagnosis and treatment of Adult ADHD. He works full-time in his independent ADHD Specialist clinic providing appointments in London and video consultations in the U.K. To find out more about his services and expertise:
Hyperactive Child Syndrome and Estimated Life Expectancy at Young Adult Follow-Up: The Role of ADHD Persistence and Other Potential Predictors - Russell A. Barkley, Mariellen Fischer, 2019 (sagepub.com)
Disclaimer: The information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, and information, contained in this article is for general information purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional. Information about mental health topics and treatments can change rapidly and we cannot guarantee the content's currentness. For the most up-to-date information, please consult your doctor or qualified healthcare professional. For more information, you can check the Royal College of Psychiatrists (rcpsych.ac.uk)