General care practitioners can diagnose and treat more than just physical maladies. Four common mental illnesses—depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and Alzheimer's—are commonly identified and treated under the care of a general practice physician.
General practice physicians treat approximately 70% of Americans suffering from depression. They diagnose the disease, prescribe and manage anti-depressants, and monitor patient progress. General care practitioners often refer people with severe depression to a mental health professional, but for mild symptoms, general practitioners are usually willing and able to assist a patient.
Often, depression is associated with other mental illnesses, like generalized anxiety disorder. Thus, even though a patient should bring up suspected depression with a general practice physician, the doctor might diagnose the patient with another illness.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
General practice physicians are also qualified to diagnose and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD are similar to the symptoms of other psychological illnesses, such as bipolar disorder and depression; as a result, ADHD is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.
General care doctors are often unaware of the specific nuances associated with the disorder, so many people that genuinely suffer from ADHD are treated for other disorders. Patients incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD often struggle as well because the underlying condition is left untreated.
The process used for diagnosing ADHD has improved greatly, and general practice physicians are better equipped to identify and treat the disease because of these checklist-like evaluations.
Certain anxiety disorders can be effectively treated by a general practice physician. Like anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications have fewer side effects than they once did, so general care doctors can prescribe them without many of the risks that once existed.
General practice physicians are very effective at diagnosing anxiety disorders because they can rule out other potential physical conditions that cause similar symptoms. For example, a patient who suffers from panic attacks will experience chest pain, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. A general practice physician can perform certain tests to rule out potential heart conditions that might be causing the symptoms instead of the suspected anxiety disorder.
Many kinds of dementia can cause memory loss, declining cognitive functions, and confusion. Thankfully, a general practice physician is able to perform specific tests, like brain imaging and even blood tests, that can help determine if Alzheimer's is behind these symptoms. General care practitioners are often in a better position than mental health professionals to diagnose this condition because they have access to such a vast array of medical tests.
A general care practitioner, such as Friedrich Tomas J MD, who is familiar with the patient is also able to identify changes in the patient's state of mind and whether these changes are age-based or the result of Alzheimer's.
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