What is the difference between a psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist?

Psychotherapists are trained counselors who treat persons with emotional symptoms with counseling or psychotherapy. A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology. A psychiatrist has a doctor of medicine degree and specializes in psychiatry following medical training. A psychiatrist is the only psychotherapist who can prescribe medication. A psychopharmacologist is a psychiatrist who specialized in the use of medications to treat emotional symptoms. Psychopharmacology is simply the study of how medications affect the mind and thinking processes.


If I go to a psychiatrist, does that mean that I am mentally ill?

"Mentally ill" is a term usually reserved for those with severe emotional disturbances such as schizophrenia. Many individuals consult with psychiatrists for medication and therapy for transient symptoms such as stress, depression and anxiety. Most individuals in treatment with a psychiatrist are able to function normally in their everyday life and in society.


Does our team always prescribe medication?

No, not every patient is a candidate for medication. Dr. Hubbard or Rizwan Khan, PAC will conduct an evaluation and diagnose your symptoms. For some patients medication alone is warranted to alleviate their symptoms. If your condition warrants psychotherapy alone or another form of treatment, you may not need medication. However, some patients benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Some patients who have experienced inadequate relief from medication or significant side effects from medication may want to consider TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), a noninvasive, highly researched form of treatment for depression with no significant side effects. TMS is covered by most insurance plans including Medicare and Tricare.


If I undergo TMS therapy will I be able to stop taking my antidepressant medication?

Most patients continue to take their medication while undergoing TMS treatment under the supervision of their doctor or psychiatrist. When you are finished with TMS treatment, your doctor will assess your progress and you may be able to reduce your medication slowly. Some patients ultimately discontinue their antidepressant medication after TMS under the care of their doctor. Others continue their medication with a significant decrease or remission in depressive symptoms that they did not experience with their medication alone before TMS. It is dangerous to stop antidepressant medication suddenly.


What should I do if I’m interested in TMS but not ready to make an appointment with the psychiatrist yet?

Dr. Ann Wycoff, our licensed psychologist, will see you for a complimentary consultation to explain what TMS is, how it works, what the research shows, and what the procedure entails. She’ll also assess your symptoms, your medication history and your expectations to help you understand if you are a good candidate for TMS. Twelve years of research (including Yale, Harvard, The Mayo Clinic etc.) show that 50-65% of patients experience a significant reduction in depressive symptoms with TMS. Based on our statistics, we are currently seeing a 71% rate of remission in depressive symptoms for patients treated in our office. This statistic is subject to change as we are constantly measuring our patients' progress. The effects last at least one year for the majority of patients. If you and Dr. Wycoff determine that you are a good candidate for TMS we will schedule a 30 minute appointment with Dr. Hubbard to assess you, as only a physician can write the prescription for TMS.


Is information that I provide to our team confidential?

All information provided to a member of our team is confidential and can only be released with your written consent. The only exceptions to this are in the areas of child abuse, elder abuse, or threats of homicide.


Are our team's services covered by health insurance?

Our services are covered by most commercial health insurance plans in addition to Medicare and Tricare. Please have your health insurance information at hand when you call to schedule an initial evaluation. Our staff will then check your benefits.


How long is my first appointment?

Your initial evaluation will take about 30 minutes in most instances. If our team believes that you will benefit from medication and if you desire to try medication, we will write a prescription at that first visit. Follow-up visits are typically one month later and usually last for 15 minutes. If our team needs more time in your particular instance, we will arrange for additional time with you.


Do some emotional symptoms have a "physical" basis?

Many emotional symptoms in depression and anxiety disorders occur when the levels of certain brain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin or norepinephrine, drop below effective levels due to stress or other causes. Our current antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications help restore the natural balance of these neurotransmitters and are not addicting or habit forming.


How do I reach Dr. Hubbard or his staff?

We are available by telephone at (619) 795-7434 on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. When we are on the telephone, you will get voice mail. It may be necessary for you to leave a message and we will return your call the same day. Most of the time we are able to schedule an appointment within 24 hours of your call. If you choose to see our Psychiatric Physician Assistant, we can usually schedule an appointment within 24 hours of your call. If you choose to see Dr. Bruce Hubbard you may have a longer period before an appointment is available.