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  SOUL HEALTH 
   PSYCHIATRY

FAQ's

Soul Health Psychiatry strongly believes in the importance of adjunct therapy and the behavioral changes that can be utilized to effectively live a healthy and productive life. This is ideal for those who are seeking to take a deeper dive into the root cause of their behaviors and thinking patterns. Soul health psychiatry does not currently offer therapy outside of brief supportive therapy which is weaved into medication management follow-up visits. Patients seeking such longer psychotherapy visits will need to obtain an outside referral for more intensive psychotherapy. Below you will find answers to additional questions that you may have when seeking an outside therapy referral. If you are new to mental health treatment, you might have noticed that providers have different scopes of practice and varioucredentials which can be difficult to discern. It is our goal to provide clarity to some of your questions.

Dr. Montalvo recognizes the interconnectedness between our mental and physical well-being. The mental health field often deals with multidimensional illnesses, making it challenging to determine the root cause of the problem through stand-alone psychiatric evaluation, therapy or lab testing. There are various laboratory tests used in psychiatry. These tests are used to help diagnose mental health disorders and monitor treatment outcomes. The list below include some of the common psychiatric laboratory tests that you may be asked to complete annually.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner?

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP's) are Advanced Practice Nurses with experience and training which allows them to assess/evaluate, diagnose, interpret lab results, prescribe medication and provide psychotherapy.

What are the differences between a nurse practitioner (NP, DNP) and a psychiatrist (MD, DO)?

Although a psychiatrist and a nurse practitioner can both diagnose mental health conditions, order and interpret lab results, provide psychotherapy and prescribe medication,  they differ in the path they took to obtain their education and training. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, a physician who went to medical school and then completed extensive training in psychiatry via residency and/or fellowship.  They hold a doctorate in medicine or doctorate in osteopathic medicine (MD, DO). A nurse practitioner started their career as a registered nurse (RN), has undergone years of training beyond a RN after returning to school to get advanced training and education to be able to practice independently. Depending on their specific path, they hold a masters degree as a nurse practitioner (NP),  a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) or both a masters and doctorate. They may have also completed a post graduate residency or fellowship. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners primarily focus on medication management (psychopharmacology), with the option to also provide psychotherapy.

What is a Psychotherapist?

It is any professional who is trained to treat people for their emotional problems with the use of psychotherapy. Dependent upon their academic degree, a psychotherapist can be a psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychologist, licensed mental health therapist or social worker.

What is a social worker with a LMSW or LCSW?

LMSW stands for ‘Licensed master of social work’ and LCSW stands for ‘licensed clinical social worker’.  They both hold masters degrees and social workers with either license can do an evaluation and psychotherapy.  The difference is in the training hours.  An LCSW requires more hours of clinical experience. All social workers with either license can do an evaluation and psychotherapy under the proper supervision. They do not prescribe medication.

What is a LMHC, LCPC or LPC?

The Licensed Professional Counselor group encompasses many different forms of licensed mental health professionals as licensure options vary greatly from one state to another. LPC certifications include: Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC), and Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). Regardless of specific acronym, these practitioners generally must hold at least a master’s degree in a counseling field and achieve passing scores on a licensing exam. They do not prescribe medication.

What is a Psychologist?

A  psychologist holds a doctorate as a Ph.D (Doctor of philosophy) or PsyD (Doctor of psychology), practices psychotherapy, and has training in neuropsychological testing. They typically do not prescribe medication (in most states).

Why do I need bloodwork drawn?

Common Lab tests in psychiatry

COMPLETE BLOOD COUNT (CBC)- A comprehensive analysis of the cellular components of the blood. This routine blood test can detect conditions like anemia or infection that may masquerade as psychiatric disorders or exacerbate symptoms. The CBC is one of the most frequently ordered laboratory studies, offers your provider valuable insight into their patients’ overall health and helps to discern biological contributors to mental distress.

COMPREHENSIVE METABOLIC PANEL (CMP)- is commonly used as part of a routine checkup. It can provide information about your overall health.

THYROID FUNCTION TESTS (TSH)- It measures thyroid-stimulating hormone (T3 and T4). They measure the level of the different thyroid hormones in your blood. Deviations from normal baseline levels can have consequences, including hypothyroidism. Depression, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties are a few of the potential manifestations of dysfunctional thyroid hormone regulation.

LIVER FUNCTION TESTS (LFT)- The liver metabolizes many medications used in psychiatry, including antidepressants and antipsychotics. Thus, monitoring liver function regularly in patients receiving these types of medications is crucial. LFT's can also help to detect liver damage before it becomes severe. The tests can also reveal the underlying reasons for symptoms like fatigue, loss of appetite, and nausea.

KIDNEY FUNCTION TESTS (eGFR, BUN, Creatinine)- A comprehensive diagnostic assessment for mental illness involves evaluating psychological factors and physical health conditions that could exacerbate or mimic psychiatric symptoms. For example, issues with kidney function, such as poor filtration or inadequate fluid balance, have been associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety. By monitoring markers of kidney, your provider can identify any underlying physiological contributors to or complications of a patient’s mental disorder.

HEMOGLOBIN A1c TEST (HbA1c)- Screening for diabetes

HCG- pregnancy test

VITAMIN AND MINERAL DEFICIENCY TESTS

Essential vitamins and minerals are critical building blocks for brain and body health. Vitamin and mineral deficiency may worsen symptoms of mental illness or altered mood and cognition. Deficiencies in folate or vitamin B12, crucial for neural health,  and can manifest as depression, cognitive impairment, and persistent tiredness. Similarly, low levels of zinc, magnesium, and iron – minerals that support a stable nervous system, have also been linked to anxiety and depression.

TOXICOLOGY SCREEN-Toxicology screening is another common lab test used in psychiatry. Toxicology testing can determine if a person has drugs or toxins in their body. Certain types of substance use, such as cocaine and amphetamines, can cause mood swings, irritation, and psychosis. Similarly, alcohol abuse can lead to symptoms of depression or anxiety. Therefore, identifying substance abuse through toxicology testing is crucial to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

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