SAN ANTONIO — Here in San Antonio, thousands of people take psychiatric medication, but a large percentage of those may not understand why.
"Their clients often ask them questions they see them every week, they trust them, they feel comfortable with them, and often times now, they don't see their doctors very long," psychiatrist Dr. Harry Croft said. "That leads to lack of information about their medication." Croft launched the new program in late July.
The Director of Clinical Services for San Antonio Behavioral Hospital, therapist Mary Szczepanski Bohne, said it's not just the lack of information, but also a shortage of psychiatrists. "We've lost 26 psychiatrists in the last five years, and we are so underserved. It's an enormous issue," she said.
That lack of psychiatrists, or those that don't take a patient's insurance, leads to primary care physicians having to dive into a world of psychiatric medication they aren't comfortable with. In fact, 80 percent of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by non-psychiatrists.
Zoloft was originally prescribed as an anti-depressant, but now it has been found to help people with anxiety disorders and panic disorders. That's something therapists may not know.
That's why Dr. Croft held this pilot seminar to boost awareness of the issue. Here's what participants said after the event. One told us, "This information can be of real value to therapists who want to help their clients most efficiently."
"Loved the online resources; access to scales, how to address side effects with clients, and use of generic names," another said.
Szczepanski Bohne stressed the importance of online resources like Web M.D. and Mayo Clinic for therapists needing valuable information. "It's important for the therapist to understand the medications, what they are used for, what their side effects are," she said.
But with this program to spread awareness of the disconnect, Dr. Croft hopes to change that nationwide.